RAY BROOK — The Senate Environmental Conservation Committee approved a controversial appointment Tuesday to the Adirondack Park Agency Board of Commissioners.
Gov. David Paterson nominated Peter Hornbeck, a canoe builder and environmentalist from Olmstedville, to serve in the APA seat held by Lake Placid businessman Arthur Lussi, who still holds the seat though his term ended June 30.
Hornbeck is on the board of Protect Adirondacks, an environmental advocacy group formed by the merger of Residents' Committee to Protect the Adirondacks and the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks.
Protect Adirondacks sued APA last month for wilderness-classification decisions on Lows Lake.
Some members of the state's Environmental Committee raised concern over potential conflict of interest in Hornbeck's nomination.
Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury), who sits on the committee, said Protect Adirondacks has also been outspoken against development of Adirondack Club and Resort in Tupper Lake, the single largest project before APA.
"I perceive a conflict of interest," Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Long Island) told committee Chairman Antoine Thompson (D-Buffalo) at the noon meeting.
"We're not here to rubber stamp (the nomination). Here we have a guy whose board (sued) an agency he is going to be part of?"
Little said, "A 'no' vote now would end this nomination."
But Thompson said the committee received more calls, e-mails and written letters on this issue than of all the work done in the past 14 months.
"The Governor's Office called repeatedly about this appointment," he said, suggesting "we dispose of it from our committee, then talk with (higher leadership). I don't want to get into a thing with the governor about his appointment."