N. Eric Johanson - A Letter to the Adirondack Park Agency
N. Eric Johanson
Resort would drastically fragment the wide areas that it sprawls across
By N. Eric Johanson
September 28, 2011
Agency Members and Designees:
I am writing to you regarding the Adirondack Club and Resort development application that is now in front of your board.
I should start by saying that I very much appreciate the need to revitalize the economies of our Adirondack towns, and believe that carefully planned and respectful development can be one of many tools with which to do this.
It is critical, however that any development be compatible with the conserved character of the Adirondack Park, because it is this character that provides the Park’s fundamental value, both economic and of the spirit. The best examples of such development are represented by the conservation design work of Randall Arendt, who I believe many of you are familiar with.
In contrast, the designers of the ACR master plan failed to consider basic conservation design principles in their plan, particularly in the handling of the back country lots. The current design would drastically fragment the wide areas that it sprawls across. My son conducted a very general analysis of ACR as part of his thesis research and I have asked him to also look into the budgetary impacts of conservation design. A page from his thesis is attached, showing very conceptually how sprawl could be mitigated.
While I have many other issues with the development, for this fundamental reason above I oppose ACR, and strongly request that the board deny the application or anything resembling its current configuration. The ACR plan:
- Is not in keeping with the intention of the Resource Management zone
- Is not in keeping with the concepts of conservation design
- Is not in keeping with the character of the Adirondack Park
- Drastically fragments the land that the APA Land Use plan is meant to protect
To its long term detriment, much of our country is slowly selling itself to fragmentary development. We in the Adirondacks, however, with our unique system of regional planning have an opportunity to take the higher road, and conduct our planning in a way fully respectful of the deep value of the Park and grow an economy based on that precept.
I see ACR as having the potential to set a critical precedent, and strongly believe that to allow the fragmentation that ACR represents to begin at this scale will bring a slow but definite deterioration of our Park’s character, and therefore its fundamental value.
To give you my background in the Adirondacks, I have owned property in the Adirondacks for over 60 years, and currently own and sustainably manage just under 14,000 acres. I have served on the board of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks for over a decade, was given the Zahniser Award for Conservation by Protect the Adirondacks in 2010, and currently serve on the Advisory Board of Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve. As my “day job,” I own and actively run an international electronics business, so I am no stranger to economic growth and finance.
Conservation and economic growth need not be mutually exclusive. It is no development in general that I oppose, but the fragmentary manner in which these developers have approached the site. I would like the developers of ACR to respect the character of the Park and come forward with a solid conservation design that we can all stand behind. To date, however, I have not seen ample effort on their part to do so.
In closing, I understand you are in a difficult position, with many citizens asking for something to bolster local economies and claiming that the APA is blocking progress. However, by denying the fragmentary ACR project, the APA would in fact be protecting what provides the underlying value of the Park, its wild and conserved character. I hope you see fit to do so.
N. Eric Johanson
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