The Zoning Board of Appeals in an Ulster County town recently ruled that the town planning board’s approval of certain permits for the proposed Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park complies with town code. Now a non-profit group is challenging the decision.
Catskill Heritage Alliance last year filed legal action asking the state Supreme Court to vacate the Shandaken Planning Board’s approval of permits for the project. The judge partially agreed, directing the planning board to have the Zoning Board of Appeals review the circumstances for a special use permit. Then the Zoning Board of Appeals earlier this year ruled that Crossroads Ventures, developer of The Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park, could proceed with its plans, that the buildings in question did not require a variance. Kathy Nolan is chair of the nonprofit Catskill Heritage Alliance, which has filed a legal challenge.
“The buildings at issue are multi-family dwellings that have been set up to be fractional shared units, basically condominiums or timeshares,” Nolan says. “And those are not permitted in the residential zones that Crossroads has blocked them into here. And we believe they would need a use variance to be allowed.”
Nolan says the Zoning Board of Appeals decision undermines Shandaken’s zoning law.
“The Zoning Board of Appeals went ahead and created a new definition that allowed them to be approved and, if we let that stand it would apply not only to these buildings but to others who might want to build condominium-type structures, including large structures, in residential areas,” says Nolans.
Gary Gailes is project coordinator with Crossroads Ventures, the developer. He says the approved structures are separate lodging places from the proposed hotels and doesn’t see the problem.
“The fact that these detached structures house guests who may be staying for a couple of weeks of for a couple of months or for a seasonalhas no bearing on the claim that these are full-time, full year-in and year-out residents, which is what the Catskill Heritage Alliance would contend,” Gailes says.
And Gailes questions the implications for other such structures.
“I’m not sure that the excuse that they’re using that this will somehow lead to a proliferation of units all over the Town of Shandaken has any real merit,” says Gailes.
The proposed resort has been on the table for some 17 years. Nolan says the litigation is not a delaying tactic or some arcane technical or procedural objection.
“The complaint that the review period is taking a long time really doesn’t seem to address that fact that much more of that was in the hands of the project sponsors than has been in our challenges,” Nolan says. “In addition, we would not challenge simply to delay. If we did not feel that our case was worthy on its merits, we would take another course.”
Again, Crossroads’ Gailes.
“The fact is that they’re using every ability to create delay, I suppose, is in the hope that the developers will simply give up and, I guess, go home,” says Gailes. “So I think they’re wrong in that assessment, and this project will move forward.”
The proposed Belleayre Resort consists of The Highmount Spa Resort and Wildacres Hotel plus a golf course. The resort would be built in both Ulster and Delaware Counties, in the towns of Shandaken and Middletown, respectively.