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Court Rejects Challenge To Adirondack Club And Resort Project

WAMC/Pat Bradley

A New York State court has ruled against a challenge to the Adirondack Park Agency's approval of a proposed 6,200-acre, year-round resort development in Tupper Lake.

More than eight years ago developer Michael Foxman and his company Preserve Associates proposed the largest development to ever come before the Adirondack Park Agency.  Over the course of the review process and adjudicatory hearings, the Adirondack Club and Resort Project site plan was adjusted. It will re-develop the Big Tupper ski area, build single and multiple family dwellings, an inn, a marina and single-family great camps. The APA issued its approval in January 2012 with conditions that included protection of open space.  
Protect the Adirondacks filed suit in March 2012 challenging the legality of the project approvals.
Protect Executive Director Peter Bauer says they were not targeting the resort project in the lawsuit.  “A lot of people said this was about the future of Tupper Lake. We always saw this as about the future of the Adirondack Park. Our objective was how the private land use plan in the Adirondacks is administered by the Adirondack Park Agency. And we felt that the agency did not follow proper procedure and did not uphold the law of the Adirondack Park Agency Act. We were confident in our arguments and we were confident in our legal work. We’re very disappointed in the decision.”
In ruling against Protect the Adirondacks, the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court ruled five to zero that the  APA permits were legal and Protect’s claims were without merit.  ARISE - Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving Their Economy - Chair Jim LaValley hopes the plaintiffs clearly understand the legality of the project.  “The actions of the plaintiff were frivolous. And there is a better way to take their philosophical beliefs and try to impart them onto the regulators. And it’s not through the court system. The Adirondack Park Agency made a vote of ten to one that it did not rise to the level of undue adverse impact. The strongest environmental organization in the Adirondack Park, being the Adirondack Council, agreed.”

The Adirondack Club and Resort re-development of Big Tupper Ski Area will include  lodge, trail and ski-lift improvements. A new marina is planned for summer recreation.  Tupper Lake Village Mayor Paul Maroun says the economies of Franklin, Essex, Hamilton and St. Lawrence counties will be affected.  “We’re going to be drawing workers from Hamilton County, St. Lawrence County, Essex County, Clinton County. On a property tax basis, the amount of taxes generated there along with the sales taxes for Franklin County, so this has a very broad economic impact to the region,  not only Tupper Lake.”

Bauer says permitting the project was one of a series of what he calls “highly political” decisions by the Park Agency regarding private lands in the forest preserve.  “What this decision does most alarmingly is it says that the Adirondack Park Agency Act is mere guidance and is not a law to be upheld. And that’s very troubling for future land use decisions in the Adirondacks. If the Adirondack Club and Resort can get a permit for this type of back country sprawl, there are others that will come forward with similar plans. That could end up the real long-term damaging issue from this, is the precedent that it’s established.”

In a press release, the Adirondack Park Agency reports that construction of the Adirondack Club and Resort Project is expected to last 15 years, generating $143 million dollars in direct construction wages. When fully operating, the resort is expected to employ 236 full time workers.

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