Townsend will return to APA as top lawyer (update)

RAY BROOK – The state Adirondack Park Agency has brought back a familiar face to serve as its top attorney.

Former agency Commissioner James Townsend has been hired as the APA’s general counsel, agency Executive Director Terry Martino announced at the outset of the agency’s monthly meeting today in Ray Brook.

Townsend’s first day on the job will be Jan. 29. He replaces John Banta, who retired last year.

“The Adirondack Park Agency is delighted to welcome Mr. Townsend back,” APA Chairwoman Lani Ulrich said in a press release. “For more than a decade, Mr. Townsend worked tirelessly on complicated Park issues and has a proven track record of accomplishments on behalf of the Adirondacks. His unique skill set will be a tremendous asset for the Agency.”

Townsend, a Rochester lawyer who owns a camp in North River, served on the APA board from June of 1999 until May of 2010. During his tenure he served as chair of the Legal Affairs, Regulatory Programs and State Land committees, and was a member of several others.

When he left the agency, Townsend told the Enterprise that ongoing regulatory revision efforts were a major focus and accomplishment during his years on the board. He said that work led to the streamlining and modernization of the agency’s permitting process. He also said he tried to work closely with the state Department of Environmental Conservation to keep the unit management planning process on track during his time leading the State Land Committee.

Townsend said he was honored to get the chance to work for the agency again.

“I thank Governor Cuomo for this opportunity and will diligently work to promote and protect this magnificent treasure,” Townsend said in the release. “Since my departure from the Agency Board my passion for the Adirondacks has only increased. It is with a profound anticipation that I look forward to joining staff to work with all stakeholders to address the future of one of the world’s most remarkable places.”

Martino said APA staff look forward to working with Townsend again.

“As we enter the 40th anniversary of the Adirondack Park Agency, we are poised to undertake a meaningful review of our regulatory programs to ensure we effectively address our statutory mandate,” Martino said. “Mr. Townsend is the right person to guide us forward.”

The release says Townsend is fully versed in state administrative procedures and has extensive knowledge of the APA Act, the State Land Master Plan, SEQR, the Open Meetings Law, FOIL, and other relevant statutes. In addition to his professional credentials, including membership with the state and Monroe County bar associations, Townsend is also a board member of the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, a board member and president of the Shingle Shanty Preserve and Research Station in the west-central Adirondacks, a member of the Monroe County chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club and a member of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers.

“We think he is a good choice for the job,” John Sheehan, spokesman for the environmentalist Adirondack Council, said in an emailed statement Thursday. “He has a rare combination of legal expertise and skills, as well as experience in Adirondack issues and a strong conservation ethic.”

Townsend is currently a partner in Remington, Gifford, Williams & Colicchio, LLP, a Rochester-based general practice law firm that concentrates in corporate, business and real estate financing and related planning matters.

Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or