Protect the Adirondacks filed a new lawsuit challenging the APA’s failure to require a Wetlands Permit, since the marina is located in wetlands, and challenges the APA’s new approval of a Variance for the marina

On June 15, 2023, the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) approved a variance application for a commercial marina located on Lower Saranac Lake in the Town of Harrietstown, Franklin County in two bays – Crescent Bay and Ampersand Bay.  The waters in both Crescent Bay and Ampersand Bay contain wetlands, and the project impacts the wetlands at both sites.  The project requires the construction of new docks, covered dock structures, pilings driven into the bed of the lake, as well as the dredging of wetlands – all activities involving wetlands – and as such, the project requires a wetlands permit from the Agency before these activities can take place.  However, the APA has abrogated its duty to apply the Freshwater Wetlands Act, the APA Act, and the APA wetlands regulations, and has given the green light for the project to proceed without a wetlands permit.

Click here to read the Petition and Complaint.


Ampersand Bay “Annex Site,” Lower Saranac Lake.


Crescent Bay, Lower Saranac Lake.

The failure to require a wetlands permit is particularly egregious given that the APA’s prior wetlands permit for this project site was overturned by the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division weeks before the Agency acted on the variance application.  On March 2, 2023, the Appellate Division, Third Department, in Thomas Jorling vs Adirondack Park Agency, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and LS Marina, LLC, annulled the Agency’s wetlands permit for the project because the Agency “incorrectly interpreted its wetland regulations.”  During the prior project review, APA assigned an incorrect, less protective value rating to the Ampersand Bay wetlands.  The Court found that the wetlands should have been evaluated using the value one rating, which is the most protected category of wetlands.

“Rather than review the project against the value one wetlands criteria, the APA staff and the applicant colluded during secret meetings to devise a strategy to conduct an end-run around the decision.  The APA failed to uphold its statutory duty to protect the natural resources of the Adirondack Park,” said Peter Bauer, Executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks.


Ampersand Bay.


Ampersand Bay, Lower Saranac Lake.

The variance granted by the APA authorizes the placement of covered dock structures within the shoreline setback area where structures are otherwise prohibited by Agency regulations.  The APA required a variance for the covered dock structures for one portion of the project, located in Crescent Bay, but failed to require a variance for the covered dock structures in another portion of the project, located in Ampersand Bay.  The APA’s issuance of the variance for structures in Crescent Bay failed to satisfy the variance criteria, and the failure to require any variance for structures in Ampersand Bay was arbitrary and capricious.

The lawsuit was filed in Warren County Supreme Court on August 11, 2023.