Board extends resort permit

TUPPER LAKE – The planning board here unanimously passed a resolution last Wednesday to extend a building permit for the Adirondack Club and Resort’s “great camp” lots.

Developer Tom Lawson approached the board and requested the extension. It renews the original permit, which the board passed on April 24. That resolution was set to expire after 180 days, in October, but the planning board renewed it Sept. 25.

The recent renewal is good until the end of July.

“We’re 33 days away from our hearing at the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in Albany,” Lawson told the board. “We’re looking forward to that. It’s been almost 11 years. I’d like to remind people that in 11 years we haven’t lost any of our court decisions, and we don’t see any reason why we won’t prevail in Albany, which will allow us to start moving forward this summer.”

The development of the great camp lots would mark the first phase of a plan to build the ACR on and around the Big Tupper Ski Area in Tupper Lake.

Phase one is projected to include a total of 22 lots: one dedicated to a road, three open-space lots and 18 single-family residences. It will encompass 3,625 of the 6,253 acres in the project site.

The ACR was proposed by a Pennsylvania-based investment group called Preserve Associates. It would overhaul the Big Tupper Ski Area and build out the land around it with about 650 luxury housing units and various amenities including a 60-room hotel, a spa, a marina and an equestrian center. The project received permits from the state Adirondack Park Agency on Jan. 20, 2012, after eight years, but progress stopped that March when two environmental groups and three nearby landowners sued to challenge the APA’s decision.

Protect the Adirondacks, which is leading the suit along with the Sierra Club, in September submitted a lengthy brief detailing 29 allegations on how the APA violated established legal process and various parts of the APA Act when its board voted 10-1 to approve the ACR.

Supporters say the resort is being held up by the lawsuit.

Briefs have since been submitted by both sides, who are scheduled to give verbal arguments before the Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court the week of April 28. After the verbal arguments are given, each side gets 15 minutes to speak. The case then goes before the judges and they render a decision, a process that can take a couple of months.

Parties on the losing end of that decision would have 60 days to appeal it. The case could then go to the court of appeals, but only if the Appellate Division judges who made the initial decision deem it worthy.

Lawson attended a Tupper Lake Rotary Club sponsored event at the Knights of Columbus hall in March and announced that, even with the ongoing lawsuit, ACR developers received Cooperative Policy Statement 1 status from the state attorney general’s office in February. That means developers can take letters of interest on the development’s wooded “great camp” lots, where buyers are expected to build large homes.

“We received our CPS one from the state of New York, which allowed us to start taking reservations on properties,” Lawson said. “Since then, we now have over $20 million worth of reservations on the properties. We’re waiting on the CPS 7, which will allow us to convert those into sales.”

The $20 million does not include the Moody Pond Lot, which Lawson said one individual has shown interest in. The Moody Pond Lot is the largest of all, located on the Raquette River Oxbow on the ACR property’s east end, and including its namesake pond.

“Things are looking good,” Lawson said. “We’re excited. We asked for an extension because we’re going to be tied up for another 30 days.”

The board didn’t have any questions for Lawson, and enthusiastically approved the extension.

Contact Shaun Kittle at 891-2600 ext. 25 or skittle@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.