A lawsuit that delayed construction of the Adirondack Club and Resort Project in Tupper Lake was thrown out last week. The ruling removed the last legal barrier to beginning construction of the development in the central Adirondacks.
Developer Michael Foxman first proposed the 6,400-acre Adirondack Club and Resort in 2004. It is the largest development project ever proposed within the Adirondack Park. It includes a marina and big camp style homes, and refurbishes the Big Tupper Ski area. Following years of debate, regulatory hearings, and revisions, the Adirondack Park Agency approved the project in January 2012.
But Protect the Adirondacks, the Sierra Club and a landowner filed suit in March 2012 challenging the APA decision. They lost every court ruling. In July, the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court said their claims were without merit. The state Court of Appeals last week upheld the Appellate court’s decision and denied the plaintiffs any further appeal.
Protect the Adirondacks Executive Director Peter Bauer is concerned that the APA violated resource management zoning and is disappointed that their legal options have now been exhausted. “We’ve strongly believed in the merits of this case from the beginning. The lawsuit only looked at really the impacts on the open space resources. Mostly on the resource management lands and the precedent that this project will have. We’re already seeing the precedent that it’s having because there’s another development happening in the southern Adirondacks. This had to do with the future of the Adirondacks. It was not something that was aimed at all in delaying the process.”
Plattsburgh/North Country Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Garry Douglas criticized the plaintiffs for delaying for so long a project that he says will help the economy of the Adirondack region. “The greatest crisis in the Adirondacks is not environmental. The crisis in the Adirondacks is one of economic and community sustainability. This is an opportunity to sensitively and in a common sense and well thought out and thoroughly vetted manner engage in the kind of transformational development that can move tourism in the Adirondacks, and Tupper Lake in particular, into the 21st century. It would be the height of cynicism to try to destroy a project that has the level of acceptance and approval of this one simply by delaying tactics for the sake of delaying. There’s been some of that at play here. Hopefully it’s now over.”
ARISE, or Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving Their Economy, Chair Jim LaValley believes the plaintiffs knew they couldn’t win their case. LaValley calls the Adirondack Club and Resort transformational for the region. “Besides the resort there will be changes and investment made within the community itself to have a vibrant downtown. More businesses will be opening and you’ll see an increase in work opportunities for folks. And it’s going to spin off into the surrounding communities like Long Lake, Cranberry Lake, Saranac Lake and even beyond that. So it’s incredible what opportunities are going to be available.”
Construction of the Adirondack Club and Resort project is expected to last 15 to 20 years. Groundbreaking is expected to begin in the summer of 2015.