Developing a Business in the Adirondack Park Commonly Asked Questions
An important part of planning a new business involves identifying the need for development and operating permits from both State and local governments. As with other aspects of business planning, knowing early on what permits are required and what specific information needs to be submitted with permit applications is the best way to protect against unnecessary expenses later on.
If you are locating in the Adirondack Park, a regional project permit is always required for new industrial and commercial uses, except in Hamlet areas where permits are not usually required.
The following are answers to the most common questions asked by people thinking about opening a business in the Adirondack Park. Typical questions to the Park Agency include:
What is the Agency's regulatory role?
For private lands within the Adirondack Park, the Adirondack Park Agency Act specifies six different land use areas and the types of development which are compatible in each. The Act classifies Adirondack land according to its ability to support various kinds of development. While business development is not prohibited in any of the six land use areas, the Agency's regulatory role, through its development permitting process, is to determine the ability of sites within specific land use areas to accommodate well defined projects.
Does every industrial and commercial project require a permit from the Agency?
Yes, but there are exceptions. In Hamlet areas, industrial and commercial projects usually do not require permits from the Agency. In Hamlets, permits are only required: 1) if proposed new structures are to be over 40 feet in height; 2) if wetlands are involved; or, 3) if a project involves over one hundred lots or units (as in the case of a hotel). Outside hamlet areas, Agency permits are always required for new industrial and commercial projects. A greater than 25 percent expansion of a business outside of a Hamlet (as measured from its size in 1973) will also require an Agency permit.
What if I want to work out of my home?
An exception to the permit requirement for business activities outside of Hamlet areas applies to activities conducted in a manner that is "incidental and subordinate" to the residential use of one's property. For a home-based business to not require a permit from the Agency, it would: 1) need to not change the residential character of the site; 2) it would need to have no more than two outside employees; and, 3) it would have only minimal signage. Whether a specific activity qualifies as a non-jurisdictional home-based business is a decision made by the Agency on a case-by-case basis.
How do I find out if I need a permit?
Contact the Agency by letter or phone. You will be asked to provide a description of your project, its proposed location, and other details. Agency staff will then be able to determine whether it will require a regional project permit.
If a permit is required, what is involved?
There are Class A and Class B regional project permits as defined in the APA Act. While the Agency issues all Class A and B project permits, if a project is to be located in a town with an Agency approved local land use program, Class B projects will typically be reviewed and permitted by that town.
Agency staff will give you application materials for projects it will review. A project review officer will be assigned to your project and will explain the project review process. Staff is available to meet with you at the Agency or at your proposed site.
How does the Agency decide whether to grant a permit?
Agency staff evaluates the ability of the development site or building to accommodate the proposed activity without significant environmental effects. The proposed activities, site development features, character of the area, and other factors will be used to determine if the project is appropriate as proposed or if the proposal will need to be modified. The Agency is required to determine whether a project will result in “undue” environmental impacts taking into account the project’s potential economic and other benefits.
How long does it take to get a permit?
Within 15 days after receiving your application, staff will notify you regarding whether the application is complete. If the application is not complete, staff will tell you precisely what additional information is needed. When the application is complete, the Agency has 90 days in which to approve the project and issue a permit, with or without conditions, or 60 days within which to notify you that a public hearing will be held before the Agency makes a decision. The Agency cannot disapprove any project without first holding a public hearing.
If there are no major concerns with your project, the review and approval process can usually be considerably shorter than the 90 day limit.
What other permits may be required?
The Adirondack Park Agency is not the only regulatory agency with responsibilities in the Adirondack Park. Many local governments have zoning and subdivision requirements which should be investigated. In addition, air and water discharge, solid waste disposal and other permits may be required from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and sanitary or other permits may be required from the State Department of Health.
Sagamore Hotel, Bolton Landing, NY
At the Park Agency, we encourage inquiries about your proposed business venture. Please feel free to call Agency staff at 891-4050 or write to us at P.O. Box 99, Ray Brook, New York 12977.
Further questions on business development in the Adirondack Park can be answered by the Agency’s Special Assistant for Economic Affairs, Dan Kelleher, who can be reached at 518-891-4050.