Capital Region Legal News

Thursday, June 16, 2016

State's Adirondack Purchases Raise Land Use Questions

What affect does the use of motor vehicles have on property values in the Adirondacks?

New York State continues to add property to the state Forest Preserve in the Adirondacks. The preserve is situated in Essex County and the state recently purchased 22,000 acres, referred to as the Boreas Ponds tract. This part of the forest, once owned by the Finch Pruyn paper company, was subsequently acquired by The Nature Conservancy which sold the tract to the state for $14.5 million.

According to the Times Union, the governor reportedly said the purchase is "one of the most important additions ever made to the state Forest Preserve." And the deal has not gone unnoticed by Adirondack preservation advocates who are calling for the tract to be made motor-free.  The overarching issue is how the land will be classified by the Adirondack Park Agency, which is slated to begin a review this summer to determine what uses the tract's natural resources will be able to withstand.

If the Boreas Ponds Tract is classified as wilderness, motorized vehicles would be banned, as it already is in large sectors of the preserve which stretches from the western North River Mountain Range to the Boreas Mountain Range in the east.

The Adirondack Council is calling the wilderness classification, citing a study by Clarkson University that found land near motor-free areas in the preserve sold for about 25 percent more than land near areas without a ban. The study, based on an analysis of more than 77,000 property sales in the Adirondack region rover a ten-year period, found that property within a half-mile to 6 miles of designated wilderness, was valued at a premium. The Council contends that wilderness designations have a positive economic impact on Adirondack communities.

Currently, about 45 percent of the 2.5 million acres in the Adirondacks owned by the state is designated as wilderness. If the ADA deems the new tract to be wild forest, however, motorized uses would be permitted, such as vehicles, snow mobiles and float planes. This would also lead to the development of roads, bridges, parking lots and mountain bike trails.

On the other hand, some believe that property values in wilderness areas of the Adirondacks do not translate to long-term economic success. They argue that the area is not seeing job creation or economic growth and that people are leaving the area. In short, the question as to what drives value in the Adirondack region remains unresolved. In the meantime, if you need advice regarding land use and zoning issues in the region, you should speak with the attorneys at the law firm of Ianniello Andersen, PC.

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