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January 6, 2011

ORDA director tapped to take over for DEC

(Continued)

RAY BROOK —

Look at overlaps

The analysis, he said, will include looking at points of overlap in state regulation.

"Whether it's the air program, the solid-waste program or forestry management, we have to look at it all. The state has been responding to new laws passed every year, and those regulations have to be met. But we have to look at the whole big picture and see if there's an easier way to do it."

The task, however enormous, is not impossible, he said.

"I'm confident that I'm up to the task, and I'm going to work with everybody to figure that out — work with the business community, local government and environmental folks. Let's face it, everybody's focus is to have a clean and healthy environment."

Local Government Review Board Chairman Fred Monroe said local government's biggest concern with a bare bones DEC is keeping enough manpower in place to carry out the mission.

"A big part of our economy is based on visitors who come to the Adirondacks. It would have been a real blow to us if they hadn't opened the campgrounds last summer," he said. "Another example is in the trails and other state facilities. If they're not maintained, visitors aren't going to come here.

"On the regulatory side, the local government view is that regulations are too burdensome.

"It would be more efficient to streamline and eliminate overlapping regulation between the Adirondack Park Agency, towns, the Army Corps (of Engineers), Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health, to name a few. The worst thing is that there are conflicts: To satisfy one agency, you can't satisfy another because they have opposing rules."

Changes

Bill Farber is chairman of the Adirondack Partnership, an organization cooperating with local governments to coordinate state agency rules that are often different in the Adirondack Park from other areas of the state.

Farber suggested Martens's nomination signals a move by the governor toward reducing regulatory overlap.

"I think the Cuomo camp is looking at the need to make structural changes at DEC in order to make these cuts more livable. But I think there's a huge opportunity here. Sometimes a crisis is a terrible thing to waste."

The Adirondack Council is watching, too.

"That is something that Joe (Martens) is going to have to take up if he hasn't started already," spokesman John Sheehan said.

The council has long called for a combined Region 5 and Region 6 DEC inside the Adirondack Park, he said.

"We've also suggested that DEC, the Park Agency and Park, Recreation and Historic Preservation functions be combined into a single entity called the Adirondack Park Service. There would be one regulatory agency people have to apply to, but most of the smaller development and zoning decisions would be handled by local governments."

E-mail Kim Smith Dedam at: kdedam@pressrepublican.com

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