Thursday, July 3, 2014

Adirondack Resort Suit Dismissed By Appellate Court

ACR aerialThe New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department has announced a decision to uphold the approvals by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) for the 6,000-acre Adirondack Club and Resort planned for Tupper Lake.

Protect the Adirondacks along with the Sierra Club and local landowners filed the lawsuit in March of 2012, outlining 29 allegations challenging the legality approvals made by the APA that January.

The decision disappointed opponents of the proposed resort project, the largest in the Adirondacks, who have been working for several years to mitigate the subdivision’s imprint on the landscape.

“The ruling by the panel of judges continues to show that all procedures and review were done according to the APA Act and the Adirondack Club project does not rise to the level of having an undue adverse impact.” ARISE Chairman Jim LaValley said in a statement issued to the press. The local real estate developer also took the opportunity to call the suit “frivolous” and declare the intentions of the plaintiffs “anything but honorable”.

“This is a great loss for the Adirondack Park and the Adirondack Park Agency because it sets a precedent for forest fragmentation across the Adirondacks and codifies for the first time in 40 years of APA history that the APA Act is to be reduced to mere guidance and not law,” Executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks Peter Bauer said in a statement. “Today could mark a point of no return in the history of the Adirondack Park, Bauer said. “This follows a series highly political decisions regarding Forest Preserve management and private land development in the Adirondacks.”

The project has been widely touted by developers and their supporters as a boon to the local economy, but questions about the struggling  Big Tupper Ski Area component of the resort, and the likelihood of meeting the subdivision’s real estate expectations remain.

The next step for the Adirondack Club & Resort Project is to finalize conditional approvals and secure the final permits from the APA, the Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Army Corp of Engineers.

You can read all of the Adirondack Almanack‘s coverage of the resort project here.  The full decision is located here.

Photo: The ACR site near Big Tupper Ski Area in Tupper Lake (Photo by Carl Heilman II).

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John Warren

John Warren has been exploring the woods and waters of the Adirondacks for almost 50 years. After a career as a print journalist and documentary television producer he founded Adirondack Almanack in 2005 and co-founded the geolocation services company Adirondack Atlas in 2015.

John remains active in traditional media. His Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report can be heard Friday mornings across the region on the stations of North Country Public Radio and on 93.3 / 102.1 The Mix. Since 2008, John has been a media specialist on the staff of the New York State Writers Institute.

John is also a professional researcher and historian with a M.A. in Public History. He edits The New York History Blog and is the author of two books of regional history. As a Grant Consultant for the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, he has reviewed hundreds of historic roadside marker grant applications from around New York State for historical accuracy.

26 Responses

  1. thomas sciacca says:

    how much more evidence does one need to conclude that this was a frivolous lawsuit designed to obstruct much needed and well planned development inside the Blueline

    It was the great example the the radical tactic of deceive, delay, deny …..and maybe do some fund raising along the way

  2. Jim S. says:

    I believe there will not be enough interest in this project for it to ever be built out as much as the developers hope. There are far better real estate values elsewhere within the blue line.

  3. Mark says:

    While I have reservations about the ACR project ever approaching full buildout, the developer earned the right to pursue his dream when he stayed with the long and thorough permitting process. It is great news that the court rebuked the frivolous lawsuit. It is time for our elected leaders to make it more difficult to bring merit less lawsuits. It’s also time for those who donate to organizations like the plaintif’s to look a lot more closely at the way their donations are spent. A lot of donors have been scammed into believing their money is being spent on worthwhile projects when it is being spent to support one person and a lawyer.

  4. Mike says:

    As the old saying goes, it’s now time to put up or shut up for the ACR. It will be ineteresting to see what excuses they spin when this boondogle never comes close to what they have projected.

    • thomas sciacca says:


      let me let you in on a new ‘old saying’

      ‘those who say it cant be done should stay out of the way of those doing it’

      quite popular in tupper


  5. adkmike says:

    I hope we are done with legal issues for this project. They deserve the chance to make it real. I’ve been in situations where no one thought my idea would work…but then it did. So I wish them luck.

    This was so totally rejected by the court that an appeal is a losing proposition to collect attorney’s fees paid by the State (yep, if NYS loses, NYS pays lawyer fees).

    Article 78 lawsuits offer pretty good legal fees on a contingency basis – you win you get paid, you lose, you get zero. In this case, they got zero.

    I bet Protect! will move on to a lawsuit over NYCO. NYCO is a better bet for Protect! and fees for Caffery than appealing this. Yes, cynical, but you just watch….

    • adkmike says:

      I would add that the ACR track is getting old and Protect! has lost repeatedly, so it must be a loser for funding now.

      NYCO, on the other hand, offers a whole new track for fundraising that could last a couple of years. What else do they have to pitch to their donors? And without a lawsuit in play, what does Protect! have skills to actually do? Not much.

  6. Running George says:

    Hey admike, You’re wrong about New York State paying the lawyers fees if they lose. It just doesn’t work that way. The loser seldom pays. The loser in this case would have had the APA’ ruling overturned… nothing more. A judge could order the loser to pay but it seldom happens. You just don’t know what you’re talking about on this issue.

  7. Jim S. says:

    When trying to defend your deeply held passions there are no frivolous lawsuits. Unfortunately there are many suits that need support. The draw of the Adirondacks will always be its wild character and making it more “civilized” will only cause more economic hardship for the area.

  8. thomas sciacca says:


    i agree with you

    there was nothing frivolous about the Protect/Sierra lawsuit to the people of tupper lake .. 2 maybe 3 building seasons were lost to the the Plaintiffs mendacity

    a lot of people were unemployed during that time

    as i have written before ‘good people suffer while lawyers play with maps’


    • Dave says:

      If you want quick turn around on large development projects, a publicly protected park is probably the wrong place for you to be hanging out.

      • thomas sciacca says:

        the project was first presented to the agency sometime around 2003

        i dont consider 11 yrs quick turn around

      • Paul says:

        Dave are you suggesting that the regulatory requirements in the park make the area less attractive to developers?

  9. chris says:

    “codifies for the first time in 40 years of APA history that the APA Act is to be reduced to mere guidance and not law.”

    This is how it starts, as it has with just about every big, adverse change.

    • Will Doolittle says:

      What does that mean? The project followed the law, it was reviewed in accordance with the law, and it was approved because it met the requirements of the law. So what does the statement — “codifies for the first time, etc.” — mean?

  10. M.P. Heller says:

    10-1 at the APA and 5-0 in court. That’s all you need to know. Someone should file a suit against Protect now. Bankrupting that organization would be a real win for the environment.

  11. adirondack warrior says:

    it is a real shame that people who don’t even live here, but have money to burn, and have paid off their political connections can force there way in, and destroy our park, as the mighty king Cuomo turns a blind eye. the scars they will create on the land will never heal. the devastation they will cause to natural habitat will cause irrevocable damages. all for the filling of a few pockets with cash. for a short period of time, a few locals may find some work, a few establishments may see a slight uptick in business, but the dream of a boon to the economy of the local area will be short lived, as less and less people discretionary funds to buy these proposed properties. this project will start and fade like many others, they will wreak havoc on the land, give nothing back to the land, and it will remain a partially completed abortion for generations to come to see and shake there heads over. these people claim to have the parks interests at heart, but all the promised improvements they say they will make are conditional, and will not even be started until there pockets are well filled with cash if they can get that far. the developers should really stay in their own home state and leave our public park alone. and to those of us who live in the park and support this debacle, maybe you should live somewhere else. if you want to live in the city, please move there. leave the park forever wild as it was, is and forever should be.

    • TLer says:

      The land that the majority of new structures will be built on has already been logged for years. Nothing will “wreak havoc on it”.

      And the developer is from Ogdensburg, so he is in his home state.

  12. Mitch Lee says:

    The Park has a whole lot of private property. The APA act helps us with our smart growth on that private property. If the Property meets and fits the requirements to build what is the difference between a single lot on the lake that meets the requirement, or a planned muti home development away from the water. I think there are a great many who feel it is a crime to build in the park (On Private Property). As shown by the post above, I got mine here you can’t have yours. This is not State Land. It is private property, and went to the APA our governing land use entity and gave them a plan for how and what they would build. Most of these homes no one will ever see. they will not be water front and as I said part of a smart growth effort. If some want to change the rules and allow no more building in the park on private property that is another effort & one that will not meet the smell test of we have ours you can’t have yours. As to asking the builders and planners be from here as opposed to out of state, what difference will that make? in our small town of Inlet a great many of our property owners are from out of state, they pay taxes and support our economy. They might have preferred to use an architect from a home town. I do think the outrage of over building in our park is a bit hard for me to swallow if the building meets the current rules set by land use local Municipalities and APA. If you wish the Rules to be stricter then work towards that end do not jump in and cry foul when efforts are being made by builders to follow current rules.I know that there are going to be folks who will say hey this project failed to get this or that, and is not following the spirit of the APA Act. Hey if every 8 acre lot with a new owner had to pay for a wildlife management specialist to measure every plant specie, bird, salamander, and measure the amount of carbon qualities, no one could afford to build. Set backs, uplands, wetlands, and building size and scale, make smart growth on private property, that is what these folks tried to do. and they did it, on private property.

  13. adirondackjoe says:

    i believe this whole project is gonna fall flat on its face.

  14. Paul says:

    If you want to prevent development on a parcel of private land – buy it. I am sure the folks that own this land would gladly have sold it to someone else rather than wait around for ACR to get their act together.

  15. john says:

    If the ACR had the started construction around 2006, they would have been bankrupt in 2008. Like them or not, the permitting and legal delays did ACR a favor. Now there are no excuses….but please explain how the business plan of 2000 will fly in 2014? Where is the demand for second homes now? The supply of for sale camps is overwhelming. And as much as I wish Big Tupper Ski area to reopen, the numbers simply do not add up. Should be interesting…..

    • Paul says:

      Many of the “delays” were self imposed. That was probably a good idea given the real estate bubble bursting.

      I would also think that the supply of waterfront homes would have a negative impact.

      But this past weekend I was visiting John Brown’s farm near the ski jumps in Lake Placid. I was shocked to see several new very large (really nice) homes that have been built near there. These same folks could have bought a home on Lake Placid but chose to build away from the water like that. It shows what little I know, there very well could be a good market for large new homes like are proposed for this development.

  16. adirondackjoe says:

    in the town of lake placid. not tupper lake.

  17. Jim S. says:

    The trend in new development is re-use. The youth are embracing it big time. I would rather see development money thrown in that direction.

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