The Court of Appeals, the state’s highest tribunal, today rejected a motion by Protect the Adirondacks and the Sierra Club seeking permission to appeal a lower court’s dismissal of the lawsuit.
The green groups contended, among other things, that the project violated the APA Act by fragmenting timberlands into “Great Camp” estates. The APA, which approved the project in January 2012, maintains that the project is legal.
“We’re very disappointed in the decision,” Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect, told Adirondack Almanack. “It takes thousands of acres of timberlands and puts them on the chopping block.”
Bauer noted that the developer, Preserve Associates, still needs to obtain final permits from the APA as well as approvals from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Franklin County Industrial Development Agency.
“We’ll monitor these approvals as the project goes ahead, but we don’t anticipate pursuing this legal action,” he said.
Protect has filed a related suit in Warren County seeking e-mails between the APA and the office of Governor Andrew Cuomo. Bauer said that suit had been on hold pending the outcome of the main lawsuit. “What we will do with that case, I can’t say at this point,” he said.
Jim LaValley, a Tupper Lake realtor who has been a booster of the project, thinks it’s time for the environmentalists to step aside and let the project go forward. “Obviously, we’re excited by the decision,” he said. “It’s not a surprise.”
APA spokesman Keith McKeever said the agency also is pleased with the decision. “We look forward to the implementation of this transformational project,” he said.
Preserve Associates wants to build eighty single-family homes, including thirty-five Great Camps, on 4,700 acres of lands designated Resource Management, the strictest of the APA’s land-use classifications for private land. The primary uses of RM lands include forestry, agriculture, and hunting, but single-family homes are listed among the authorized secondary uses.
The APA Act says homes on RM lands should be built “on substantial acreages or in small clusters.” The plaintiffs contended the developer’s project will do neither. The APA argued that the language in the plan is merely a guideline, not a mandate.
Bauer said the decision opens the door to other subdivisions that fragment the forest. “The courts are not the solution; we learned that the hard way,” he said. “The solution is statutory change.”
The Adirondack Club and Resort also includes plans for town houses, a hotel, shops, and other amenities near the Big Tupper Ski Resort.
Photo by Carl Heilman II: The developers would draw water from Cranberry Pond for the Big Tupper Ski Resort.