Adirondack Park Agency


Use this handy checklist to help you determine if a permit is necessary.

The three Acts administered by the Agency - the APA Act, the Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers System Act and the Freshwater Wetlands Act - all have a bearing on whether your project will require an Agency permit. The following checklist will help you determine whether a permit is needed.

This checklist is for general information only and is not exhaustive. For a binding determination whether your project needs a permit, you must call the Agency and submit a Jurisdictional Inquiry Form. If you check any of the following items (_) you will need a permit.


You will first need to establish in which land classification your property lies. YOU CAN CONTACT THE AGENCY TO ASSIST YOU.


Critical environmental areas include wetlands, high elevations, and areas near certain rivers, highways and State-owned lands. An APA permit is required in all land use areas for most development activities and subdivisions of land in:

(_) Wetlands (refer to page 5 of the Citizen's Guide to Adirondack Park Land Use Regulations regarding wetlands).

(_) At elevations over 2,500 feet.

(_) Within 1/4 mile of a "study river," including portions of the Oswegatchie, Osgood, Grasse, N. Branch Saranac, N. Branch Boquet, The Branch, East Stony Creek and Pleasant Lake Stream.
(A "study river" is a river being considered for inclusion in the State's Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers System. Many other Adirondack rivers and streams are already classified in the system and are subject to its special regulations.)

(_) Within 1/8 mile of State Forest Preserve lands classified as Wilderness, Primitive or Canoe areas.

(_) Within 150 feet of state or federal highway right-of-way (in Rural Use areas only).

(_) Within 300 feet of state or federal highway right-of-way (in Resource Management areas only).


(_) Generally, an APA permit is needed for projects within 1/4 mile of a river included in the State's Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers System: Ausable, Black, Blue Mt. Stream, Bog, Boreas, Boquet, Cedar, Cold, Deer, East Canada Creek, Grasse, Hudson, Independence, Indian, Jordan, Kunjamuk, Long Pond Outlet, Marion, Moose, Oswegatchie, Otter Brook, Raquette, Rock, Sacandaga, St. Regis, Salmon, Saranac, Schroon, West Canada Creek and West Stony Creek.


An APA permit may be needed for subdivisions. Subdivisions are broadly defined to include any division of land into two or more lots, parcels or building sites (including that portion retained by the owner) for the purpose of sale, lease or any form of separate ownership or occupancy. Construction of a second principal building or dwelling or a two-unit dwelling on a parcel is a subdivision.

To determine if a permit is required, several factors must be examined, including:
• the resulting total number of lots, parcels or sites created from the original parcel of land as it existed on May 22, 1973;
• the size of the smallest lot in the proposed subdivision; and
• the smallest shoreline lot width in the subdivision.

An APA permit is needed:

(_) If the total number of lots, sites or residential units created from the original May 22, 1973 parcel is equal to or greater than:

100 in Hamlet
15 in Moderate Intensity Use areas
10 in Low Intensity Use areas
5 in Rural Use areas

(_) For any subdivision in a Resource Management area, Industrial Use area or within a designated Wild, Scenic, or Recreational Rivers area.

(_) For the entire subdivision if any non-shoreline lot in the proposed subdivision is less than:

Moderate Intensity Use areas 40,000 sq. ft. (0.92 acres)
Low Intensity Use areas 120,000 sq. ft. (2.75 acres)
Rural Use areas 320,000 sq. ft. (7.35 acres)

(_) If the project involves any shoreline* lots if either the smallest lot area or shoreline lot width measurement is less than:

Hamlet n/a 50 ft.
Moderate Intensity Use areas 25,000 sq. ft. (0.57 acres) 100 ft.
Low Intensity Use areas 50,000 sq. ft. (1.14 acres) 125 ft.
Rural Use areas 80,000 sq. ft. (1.83 acres) 150 ft.
Resource Management areas 42.7 acres 200 ft.

* A shoreline lot includes any lot partly or entirely within the minimum setback distance from the water for the land use area involved. Different shoreline widths apply if your site is located in a Wild, Scenic, or Recreational River area.


An APA permit is needed for a single family dwelling or mobile home in:

Resource Management areas
Industrial Use areas
Critical Environmental areas
Designated River areas
Wetlands (within or near)

In other land classifications, a single family dwelling to be constructed on a lot already having a dwelling or other principal building on it may be subject to Agency review as a subdivision.


An APA permit is needed for:

(_) Structures over 40' high. Note: height is measured from the highest point of a structure to the lowest point of either the natural or finished grade.

(_) Any new commercial or industrial use in all but Hamlet areas.

(_) An expansion totaling 25% or more (whether such expansion is undertaken all at once or over an extended time) of an existing use or structure included on the list of regional projects in the APA Act. In all but Hamlet areas, expansion is measured by size, square footage or capacity.

(_) Any multiple family dwelling, i.e., a structure containing two or more separate dwelling units. This applies in all land use areas except Hamlet areas.

In areas governed by an Agency-approved local land use program, certain projects normally requiring an Agency permit will need only a local permit.

Shoreline restrictions apply along lakes, ponds, rivers and streams regardless of whether an Agency permit is needed.


For more on the permit process, see pages 10 and 11 of the Citizen's Guide to Adirondack Park Land Use Regulations (pdf 370kb).

Links to related information on our site:

Citizen's Guide to Adirondack Park Land Use Regulations (pdf 370kb)

Land Use Area Classification

Communicating with the Agency

Jurisdictional Inquiry Form (pdf 10kb)


The Adirondack Park Agency phone number is