Two environmental groups are appealing an appellate court decision that rejected their challenge of a development project in the Adirondacks. The appeal request is not sitting well with supporters of the project.
The Adirondack Club and Resort project planned in Tupper Lake was approved by the Adirondack Park Agency in January 2012 after eight years of review. The proposed 6,200-acre, year-round resort development was the largest ever to 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.
The APA issued its approval conditions that included protection of open space.
Protect the Adirondacks and the Sierra Club filed suit in March 2012 challenging the legality of the project approvals.
On July 3rd, 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. This week, the plaintiffs filed a motion requesting permission to appeal the decision.
Because Protect has not recorded media interviews since filing its request, Executive Director Peter Bauer asked not to be recorded. But in an on-the-record conversation with WAMC, he discounted the court’s unanimous ruling, saying the overwhelming number of appellate rulings are unanimous. He believes Protect’s chief arguments were not adequately scrutinized nor reviewed by the court.
114th District Assemblywoman Janet Duprey is harshly critical of the appeal, saying Protect’s claims are frivolous. “The courts have ruled in favor all the way through on this. It’s time for Protect to say they have lost. They have lost legitimately. They should lose. This is a great project. It’s good for the economy. The Sierra Club and Protect should not have the only rights. We need these 500 jobs in the North Country. This is just outrageous. We all believe in the freedom of people to be able to sue and be able to express their rights. But there ought to be a time where you just say this is it. This is enough. It’s over. Move on. Let this project go forward.”
Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board Executive Director Fred Monroe says the court issued a very strongly worded decision finding due diligence by the Park Agency. He says it’s unfortunate the appeal will cause yet another delay. “I think it has a chilling effect on anyone who may want to invest inside the Blue Line if they know that when they try to create a project that’s going to create jobs and improve the economy that they’ll be subject to so much scrutiny by the Adirondack Park Agency. And then even after they get the permit they might have to go through three layers of courts - the Supreme Court, the Appellate division, the court of appeals. So obviously if you had a choice between doing your project inside the Blue Line or outside, the choice is really obvious.”
Protect’s Bauer says the Adirondack Park Agency has issued 17-thousand permits in the last 40 years, so clearly development happens all the time. He noted that the applicant for the Adirondack Club and Resort Project does not have all the needed permits from various agencies —despite it being two years since the APA approved it. Bauer bristled at others pointing fingers at Protect, saying the applicant clearly has a lot of work to do.
But Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving Their Economy, ARISE, Chair Jim LaVally scoffs at that rationalization. “I will point all the fingers at them. This action on the plaintiffs is very calculated. Those other permits will fall into place quickly and nicely. From the private investment side they’re looking at the Adirondack Park Agency permits as the most important and that’s where the focus has been. So these lawsuits, these frivolous actions by the plaintiff, I believe are very calculated on their part.”
The Adirondack Club and Resort Project will re-develop the Big Tupper ski area, build single and multiple family dwellings, an inn, a marina and single-family great camps.