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The state agency that oversees private and public development in upstate New York’s massive Adirondack Park likely will change proposed regulations to limit seasonal campground occupancy.
Some 133 private campgrounds are located within the park, and a state park owners group – Campground Owners of New York (CONY) with 50 members operating facilities inside park boundaries – has taken exception to proposed rules to restrict visitors’ stays in private campgrounds to 90 days, and require units to be removed from the property after 120 days.
“We’ve had a tough time having an informative dialogue,” conceded John Banta, counsel for the Adirondack Park Agency (APA), created to oversee the six-million acre park, about half of which is in private hands. “Our intent is to allow units that are mobile to be on camp sites. How we want to get there, we’re not quite sure. But we want to protect the park.”
However, CONY Executive Director Bob Klos says his organization’s attorney believes APA is exceeding its authority. “They are trying to regulate seasonal camping, and to them a season is three months,” Klos said. “It’s unenforceable.”
The proposed rules are in limbo at the moment, undergoing internal state review before being formally submitted to the rule-making process for approval, which by itself will take four to six months.
Banta said the proposal may be revised before being submitted for approval, but declined specifics about what might be changed.
“We are concerned that we don’t scare or appear to be threatening anyone,” Banta said. He added that currently RVs are to be removed from a campground after 90 days to comply with regulations that allow only “transient occupancy” within the park. Additionally, current regulations restrict RVs in campgrounds from being longer than 35 feet, a rule that the agency has overlooked.
“Part of the regulations have been held in abeyance,” he said. “I don’t want to say that they haven’t been enforced.”
The pending regulations would permit units up to 45 feet, the maximum length for RVs to be allowed on New York highways.
“We thought we were liberalizing our regulations but the campground owners don’t seem to see it that way,” Banta said.
There also is a debate between campground owners and the agency on what constitutes permanent dwellings, which are regulated differently than campground sites with regard to health requirements.
Campgrounds that existed prior to creation of the park would be exempt from the new rules, but which campgrounds would be grandfathered also is a bone of contention that Banta would not discuss.
Legislation is expected to be introduced, Klos said, that would require APA to treat campgrounds inside the park just like parks anywhere else in New York.
“Every campground must have a permit from the state board of health, and nothing about that permit indicated the number of days they can operate,” Klos said.