LAKE PLACID — Changes are looming at the Department of Environmental Conservation and on the Adirondack Park Agency board of commissioners.

Stuart Buchanan, Region 5 director of the Department of Environmental Conservation, will no longer hold the appointed post after May 31.

DEC spokesman David Winchell confirmed the departure, but did not have further information about Buchanan’s successor.

Buchanan was assigned director of Region 5 about 12 years ago by then Gov. George Pataki’s administration, Winchell said.

The DEC commissioner can appoint someone to the seat.

Buchanan has not yet announced future plans.

In a brief interview Tuesday, Buchanan said he would continue to perform the function of regional director until the end of May.

“As to what is next, I have several options that I am weighing, including a couple that would involve relocating out of the area, but have not made a commitment yet.”

Buchanan will also leave his seat on the APA board of commissioners.

Other vacancies are approaching.

Two of the eight appointed commissioners reach the end of four-year terms in June.

APA chair nominated

Richard S. Booth has been nominated by Gov. Eliot Spitzer to the chairman’s seat held by Dr. Ross Whaley. This position would will be an out-of-park seat that has been held by Katie Roberts since 2004.

“Governor Spitzer today advanced Booth’s name to the New York Senate for confirmation for a seat on the APA board,” said Spitzer’s spokesman Marc Violette.

Sen. Betty Little’s office confirmed that Booth’s nomination as APA chairman has reached the Senate’s appointments office.

“From there it will be assigned a committee for approval and then to the Senate Finance Committee before reaching the floor for a full vote,” said spokesman Dan Mac Entee.

Booth, originally from Plattsburgh, is a professor of city and regional planning at Cornell University and lives in Ithaca.

He was an attorney for the APA when it formed in 1973.

The pending appointment drew fire from the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board Executive Director Fred Monroe.

“Since the establishment of the Adirondack Park Agency more than 30 years ago, four different New York governors of different political parties have found it prudent and responsible to uphold the sensible tradition of selecting a chairman for the Agency who lived in the Adirondacks.”

Monroe characterized the nomination as “insensitive.”

“To select someone who does not live or work in the Adirondacks is unwise, unnecessary and insensitive. Imagine the derisive laughs Gov. Spitzer would draw if he named a Long Laker to head the Battery Park City Authority. This is not a good first step in Gov. Spitzer’s relationship with the communities of the Adirondacks.”

Booth’s nomination was praised by environmentalists.

“He knows what it’s like to be in the shoes as a local government official as he has been one in Tompkins County,” said Peter Bauer, executive director of the Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks.

“As a former staff attorney at the APA he clearly knows the ins and outs of the agency and APA law. He is also a widely respected law professor and expert on New York’s environmental laws.”

Other terms up soon

Four-year terms currently held by park-resident Commissioner Frank Mezzano and APA Chairman Ross Whaley expire June 30.

And APA Executive Director Richard Lefebvre announced plans to retire mid-May.

The potential shift of five positions on an 11-member board comes at a time when the APA is considering permits for several large projects including Adirondack Club and Resort development in Tupper Lake, slopeside ski resort development at Gore Mountain and upcoming cell-tower placement along the Adirondack Northway.

Resort planning in Tupper Lake has been ongoing at the agency for more than two years amassing seven boxes of paperwork and more than 7,000 comment letters.

E-mail Kim Smith Dedam at:

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