Opposition to Township 40 Adk land settlement?

Racquette Lake NY (From Wikipedia/photographer DzikieKwiaty)

Racquette Lake NY. Photo: DzikieKwiaty, public domain

This morning, in my conversation with Martha Foley, I reported that the Township 40 land deal in the Adirondack hamlet of Racquette Lake is relatively uncontroversial, compared with the NYCO minerals deal in Lewis.

Both issues will be on the statewide ballot on Tuesday.

I think my description is broadly accurate.  There hasn’t been an organized campaign to stop Proposition 4, which would authorize the land swap in Hamilton County.  I haven’t received a single email or phone call about it.

But a listener emailed me this morning to argue that there are concerns and that there is opposition, which NCPR hasn’t (I think it’s fair to say) covered.

Here is the description of concerns on the New York League of Women Voters Website:

Opponents of the amendment argue that a legislative settlement would establish a poor precedent for other private land ownership disputes in the Adirondak Park, inviting an endless stream of private bills and constitutional amendments. They argue that similar land disputes have been resolved via the judicial system and that that is the appropriate vehicle to settle such disputes because it provides transparency and an independent authority, which they say the proposed process does not. In addition, they claim that the fees to be collected from the occupants is greatly less than the accessed worth of the land and will not be sufficient to acquire comparable or better land to be added to the forest preserve, thus delaying the private parties’ clear land title until the town government and state government can agree upon a land purchase.

A similar account of the objections occurs on the NY Public Interest Research Group website.  But as far as I can tell neither organization is actively opposing passage of Prop 4.  They’re just outlining concerns and arguments.

Meanwhile, a huge range of organizations, editorial boards, political leaders and activists — including some who have opposed the NYCO Prop 5 land swap, are actively backing the Township 40 swap.

I’ll update this if I find any groups or activists who are working to urge opposition to Prop4.  I hope readers will also chime in if they know of organized opposition.

Opponents of the amendment argue that a legislative settlement would establish a poor precedent for other private land ownership disputes in the Adirondak Park, inviting an endless stream of private bills and constitutional amendments.

They argue that similar land disputes have been resolved via the judicial system and that that is the appropriate vehicle to settle such disputes because it provides transparency and an independent authority, which they say the proposed process does not.

In addition, they claim that the fees to be collected from the occupants is greatly less than the accessed worth of the land and will not be sufficient to acquire comparable or better land to be added to the forest preserve, thus delaying the private parties’ clear land title until the town government and state government can agree upon a land purchase.

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13 Comments on “Opposition to Township 40 Adk land settlement?”

  1. Paul says:

    The support and opposition to these two amendments is really fascinating. Some folks oppose prop 5 (the NYCO one) on the grounds that it sets a precedent where an amendment to article 14 will benefit a private entity. Yet they support prop 4 that does the same thing on principal? Take away what the plan for how to use the land as part of the consideration and it all falls flat on its face.

  2. Pete Klein says:

    Let me see if I get this right.
    Some people think the land in Raquette Lake that has homes, business and a school on it would be a valuable addition to the “Forever Wild” Adirondacks?
    It’s “concerns” such as this that cause Adirondack residents and property owners to worry there are those out there (way, way out there) who would just love to kick every human out of the Adirondacks.
    With that attitude, what’s next? Rip up all the roads so only a few can venture into a man made wilderness?

  3. dave says:

    “They argue that similar land disputes have been resolved via the judicial system and that that is the appropriate vehicle to settle such disputes because it provides transparency and an independent authority, which they say the proposed process does not.”

    I find that to be a pretty compelling argument, in general.

    But my understanding of this particular issue is that the judicial system has been especially burdensome and unable to resolve the dispute in what almost everyone agrees is a reasonable amount of time, or in an acceptable way.

    And Prop 4 is a swap to benefit a Township, a group of citizens/residents. Prop 5 is a swap to benefit a mining company. I know it is possible to bog the conversation down in hypotheticals (“what if one of those residents turn around and sell their land to a mining company!”) but I think most people understand there are fundamental differences between these two proposals.

  4. Mitch Edelstein says:

    Please note that 3 of the 216 parcels in the Township 40 compromise belong to the local Fire Dept and School District. Also the story should highlight that the landowners have been paying taxes on the land for decades or more. This amendment is about fairness not precedent. Does anyone want to say that getting a constitutional amendment through two consecutive sessions of the NY State legislature and then passed by the voters of the state is easy.

  5. Will Doolittle says:

    There is already precedent for amendments of this sort to benefit private interests, as well as public interests, which is what both of these proposals do. Prop. 4 and Prop. 5 are different in details, but broadly similar in that both allow private interests to benefit at the expense of the state in exchange for additions to the Forest Preserve.

  6. Paul says:

    “but I think most people understand there are fundamental differences between these two proposals.”

    Dave, I agree there are differences. But I think that the fact that both will benefit a private entity is a fundamental similarity. My hypothetical was simply to illustrate that in the future (the focus of something like Article 14) we have no idea what a private entity will do with the land (much of it lake front property) once they have clean title. I am voting yes on this proposition not because of the “possible” benefits (note in this proposition it is only “likely” that the Marion River Carry property will be a acquired so we really have no idea what we are getting) to the state but because I think these folks should get a break.

  7. Paul says:

    In the town where I live we now have a BJ Wholesale Club on land once owned by our Fire Dept (I go there often). None of us have any idea what the future may hold.

  8. Paul says:

    I also am familiar with a mining operation that runs from (about) a 10 acre parcel of lake-front land. I looked at a parcel of land for sale that is one of these disputed parcels about 15 years ago. It was 8 acres on the lake. Once these titles are cleaned up it should allow more development on these parcels as financing becomes more available Getting a mortgage here must be difficult if not impossible. The land I looked at with setbacks and lot width restrictions probably could have 6 or 8 single family dwellings permitted on it. Once this is cleared up it should be good for Racquet Lake.

  9. dave says:

    You can keep suggesting that a school and a fire department and residents of a township are the same thing as a mining company, if you want…

    I’m just not buying the comparison.

  10. Will Doolittle says:

    I haven’t seen anyone suggest that the landowners in Raquette Lake are the same thing as a mining company. But they are both private interests that will benefit from a proposed constitutional amendment involving state land. In that they are similar.

  11. Paul says:

    I have already voted yes for this.

    Dave, a school and a fie dept are not the same as a mine true. But private property is private property and it can be used for anything that the owner can legally do with it (remember there are 216 parcels here many of them on the lake that have nothing to do with the school or fire dept.). Also, when considering Article 14 we should look to the future not focus on what is there now.

    Environmental groups supporting a proposal that is aimed at improving the possibility that land can be developed (or further developed) is interesting to see.

    Brian Mann said it well here in an earlier article:

    “People are really relieved that their community might finally be free of this terrible dispute that has complicated land sales and economic development.”

  12. Paul says:

    If you look at the maps you will see that this contains a lot of valuable water front real estate. This amendment should immediately raise the value of these lands for the land owners. The land is also surrounded by Forest Preserve land. Some of these are the perfect place for a smaller version of the Adirondack Club and Resort, and being on the water it might even be a success!

  13. John Warren says:

    There is not one single source noted here.

    It’s all “they argue” and “they claim”.

    There is no they. If there is, then identify them.

Comments are closed.