The Appellate Division of State Supreme Court has refused to grant the opponents leave to take their case to the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest tribunal.
Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks, said the opponents will file a similar motion with the Court of Appeals itself within thirty days. The high court is expected to issue its decision by the end of the year.
Protect the Adirondacks and the Sierra Club, along with a private citizen, filed a lawsuit after the Adirondack Park Agency approved the project in January 2012. The plaintiffs contend, among other things, that plans to subdivide timberlands near the Big Tupper Ski Area into 80 “Great Camp” estates violates the Adirondack Park Land Use and Development Plan.
In July, however, the Appellate Division upheld the APA’s decision, ruling that the section of the land-use plan cited by the opponents is merely advisory, not mandatory. (Click here to read an in-depth look at this issue.)
“The Appellate Division erred when it held that the Adirondack Park Land Use and Development Plan of the APA Act is merely guidance to the APA and is not binding on the APA, despite the plain language to the contrary,” Bauer said in a news release Thursday. “This reverses 40 years of legal practice at the APA and accords APA decision-makers with vast opportunities to issue permits with little justification.”
If the Appellate Division decision stands, Bauer said, “it will create a ruinous precedent that will negatively impact hundreds of thousands of acres … across the Adirondack Park.”
Jim LaValley, a Tupper Lake realtor who has been an outspoken booster of the project, accused Protect and the other plaintiffs of stalling the project, though he predicted it will eventually go forward.
“I believe the path is clear where this is going,” LaValley said. “I think it’s really unfortunate that Protect is tearing bridges down rather building bridges.”
Because the Appellate Division’s decision in July was unanimous, the plaintiffs need permission to take the case to the higher court. In an order filed Wednesday, the motion for leave to appeal was denied by same five judges who took part in the earlier decision. No explanation was given.
Photo by Carl Heilman: Cranberry Pond near the Big Tupper Ski Area.