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Helms v. Reid

Citation: 7 ELR 20519
90 Misc. 2d 583/394 N.Y.S.2d 987, (N.Y. Sup. Ct., 05/11/1977)

The court holds that the New York State Constitution does not prohibit the Adirondack Park Agency from promulgating a rule restricting seaplane operations on lakes surrounded by state-owned land within the Park. Plaintiffs' claim that various forest uses allowed by the Department of Environmental Conservation violate the "forever wild" clause of the Constitution raises factual issues that cannot be determined in this action for summary judgment. As to plaintiffs' second cause of action, the State Land Use Master Plan's classification of Adirondack Park land into seven land use categories does not violate the "forever wild" clause. The forest preserve of state lands was brought under constitutional protection in order to halt commercial exploitation and close all doors to development. Nevertheless, reasonable cutting and removal of timber are permitted to allow public use of the forest preserve without recourse to a constitutional amendment. The legislature has properly delegated the determination of reasonableness to the Adirondack Park Agency, which has promulgated the State Land Use Master Plan. The Master Plan's division of state lands into seven categories, taking into account physical characteristics and existing facilities, is not constitutionally defective. Furthermore, prohibiting seaplane landings is a reasonable restriction on motorized vehicle access to the forest preserve in conformance with the "forever wild" clause.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
A. Anthony Kelsey
Whitman & Ransom
522 Fifth Ave., New York NY 10036
(212) 575-5800

Counsel for Defendants
Louis J. Lefkowitz, Attorney General
State Capitol, Albany NY 12224
(518) 474-7330

Counsel for Intervenor Adirondack Council
David Sive
Winer, Neuburger & Sive
425 Park Ave., New York NY 10022
(212) 421-2150