Property Rights Foundation of America®
Founded 1994

Proposal for a Single-Family Log House
on Lens Lake Road, Stony Creek

Staff Presentation to the
Adirondack Park Agency Commissioners
Photos by Peter J. LaGrasse

During 2000, Michael Black, a developer in Long Lake applied to the Adirondack Park Agency to build an individual single-family log house on 7.9 acres of land between Lens Lake Road and Lens Lake in Stony Creek. The project is known as "Cold Brook Properties." After a year's delay caused by the APA's requirements for additional information from Mr. Black, the APA staff deemed the permit application complete.

The staff had met with the permit applicant—and his neighbor, who opposed the project—several times. They required a great deal of technical information as well as changes to the design to move the house over 300 feet from the lake shore. Mr. Black paid for an elaborate survey and site plan, as well as engineering, biological and architectural studies. The project review officer presented a slide show to the APA Commissioners at their regular official monthly meeting on August 9, 2001. During the lengthy discussion, the staff explained the issues of concern to them and pointed out that the applicant had moved the house site back so far from the lake that he would not have a lake view, but that they might want to move it back even further.

The staff said that they had determined that the project would have no effect on the lake's water quality, any wildlife resources, or wetlands. Although the law does not give them the power to require that houses be hidden from lakes or roads, that became their major consideration. They did a visibility test with balloons hovering far above where the corners of the house would be to help them evaluate whether the house would be visible from the lake. They said that it would be invisible except perhaps during winter. An owner of a camp in the Livingston Lake Club, which is on the lake of that name to the south in the same chain of lakes, where the neighbor who opposes the house is a camp owner, presented them a photograph of the entire area from nearby Spruce Mountain. At the Commissioners meeting, the staff showed a slide of this photo and raised the issue of whether the house would be visible from any mountain top.

The commissioners were convinced to require that the single-family house proposal go to a public hearing, although this would certainly move the construction of the house one year away, at the earliest and cause the applicant a great deal more expense, especially for attorneys' fees. During the past ten years, with one exception, the APA has required public hearings only for major projects. Keith McHugh, a man from New Jersey who had been in negotiations with Mr. Black for the property and paid for some of the studies that the APA required, bought the land just before the first public hearing, which was held in October.

- Carol W. LaGrasse, October 13, 2001

Area map of proposed house on Lens Lake

At the Adirondack Park Agency Commissioners' official meeting on August 9, a staff member presents a slide of a map to explain where the land is located on which a log house proposed for a 7.9 acre parcel on Lens Lake in the town of Stony Creek would be built. The private land is shown green and the State-owned land is gray.

Lens Lake

Thomas Saehrig, an Adirondack Park Agency project review officer, explains the photo taken from the lake during the balloon test to determine whether the house to be located 300 feet back from the shore would be visible from Lens Lake. The balloons, which are far above the actual ridge of the proposed house, can just be seen floating in the air above the forest between the house and the lake.

Artists's rendition of log house

A slide of the architect's rendering of the proposed house that Keith McHugh has asked the APA for permission to build in the town of Stony Creek. The APA required elaborate drawings for the single-family house.

Site plan

A member of the APA staff displays a slide to explain an expensive site drawing, with details of topography usually reserved for large commercial projects. Keith McHugh had to commission this survey and engineering design work for his application to build a single-family house. After the staff's slide show and another staff presentation the next day, the full APA Commission voted to also require a public hearing about the application.

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