Saturday, January 26, 2008

GIS technology to enforce property subdivision laws in New York

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) of New York has strengthened its ability to crack down on illegal subdivisions of property in the park, with more manpower and computer technology.

The APA said there are hundreds of examples of violations on its active enforcement docket, with hundreds of other cases sitting idle and unresolved.

The state has created two new enforcement positions and will use a statewide real estate database, coupled with its geographic information system, or GIS, to track and enforce laws regulating subdivisions.

"We can now find out these violations before subdivision roads are constructed and homes are built," APA spokesman Keith McKeever said.

Fred Monroe, executive director of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board, said the initiative may sound bad to property owners at first, but in the long term, it's better for residents.

Landowners with large parcels at times divide property into smaller lots to sell for development, which often means more homes. The agency can catch such properties when they are subdivided without APA approval -- and before lots are sold to an unsuspecting home buyer.

The APA has a backlog of more than 600 subdivision cases, according to an agency memo. Most cases are discovered when landowners submit applications or inquiries regarding projects to the agency.

There were 174 new subdivisions reported to the APA in 2007. The APA used GIS and a statewide database of real estate transactions to find 55 potential violations.

Carole LeGrasse, of the Stony Creek-based Property Rights Foundation of America, said it was only a matter of time before the APA began using its GIS to better enforce laws.

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