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APA Ruling Against Couple in Royal Anchorage Estates Subdivision Reversed


Lake Placid, New York

June 2, 2010

Judge Richard B. Meyer Reverses Adirondack Park Agency's Enforcement Decision Against Royal Anchorage Estates Home Owners
Decision Sets Precedent on APA Rule Interpretation and Enforcement Practices

Yesterday, in a 16-page Decision, Acting Supreme Court Judge Richard B. Meyer reversed the Adirondack Park Agency's ("APA") administrative enforcement determination mandating Joseph and Patricia Zelanis (1) to reduce the size of their home in the Royal Anchorage Estates subdivision, (2) to record a deed restricting the use of their home to no more than three bedrooms, (3) to connect to a common sewage system, and (4) to pay a $5,000 civil penalty to the APA.

The Decision is of significant importance as it sets a judicial precedent for the entire Adirondack State Park that prohibits the APA from applying newly enacted regulations on uses or structures preexisting the adoption of the regulation; especially those in subdivisions previously approved by the APA. Moreover, the Decision prohibits the APA from relying on "unwritten agency practice" to interpret a regulation or law. Judge Meyer stated in his Decision at page 8, "An administrative agency may not regulate under the guise of interpretation [citations omitted] and 'past agency practice is not binding precedent' [citations omitted]."

The Decision also calls into question the APA's procedures and practices to amend subdivision permits. In this proceeding, the APA offered no evidence that it had properly amended the original subdivision permit to require lots in the Royal Anchorage Estates subdivision to connect to the common sewage system.

Also, the Decision prohibits the APA from ordering landowners to remedy an APA violation where the APA Complaint doesn't provide any notice of such a violation. Finally, the Decision prohibits the APA from commanding landowners to restrict their use of their land without having the legal authority to do so. "An administrative agency may not amend a permit through the guise of enforcement especially when resort may be had to available procedures to amend or modify the permit," said Judge Meyer in the Decision at page 15.

A copy of Judge Meyer's Decision is attached in .pdf format.

For more information or questions, contact Matthew D. Norfolk, Esq. at 518.523.5555

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