NORTH CREEK In a groundbreaking and controversial decision, the Adirondack Park Agency voted April 11 to approve the plans for Ski Bowl Village at Gore Mountain, an ambitious residential, resort and commercial complex proposed by FrontStreet Mountain Development LLC. While the $250 million development has several more criteria to satisfy prior to breaking ground, the decision represents a significant step forward for the project, establishing it as one of the largest approved by the APA in recent decades. Before work can begin, the second stage of the permitting process will require FrontStreet to complete a host of Park Agency conditions and permit requirements, including satisfaction of compliance with state regulations and Town of Johnsburg zoning law. In March 2005, the FrontStreet enterprise acquired the 430-acre property, which includes portions of the historic North Creek Ski Bowl. The four season resort complex calls for a phased development to include ski-in/ski-out accommodations, a 120-room hotel, Country Inn lodging, townhouses, private homes, restaurants, an equestrian center, and a nine-hole golf course. The arrangements relating to the development will enable the reopening of the historic North Creek Ski Bowl for public skiing, a recent FrontStreet Development press release says. The Ski Bowl is adjacent to and will become part of the Gore Mountain Ski Area, one of the largest ski areas in the East. Shortly after acquiring the land in 2005, FrontStreet agreed to transfer ownership of a 60-acre section of the Ski Bowl property back to the Town of Johnsburg, to facilitate public skiing. The Town of Johnsburg, ORDA, the Economic Development Corporation for Warren County and FrontStreet have been working collectively for years to connect Gore Mountain and the Town Park, which contains a portion of the Ski Bowl, FrontStreet Development says. Once the land transfer to the Town from FrontStreet is completed, Gore Mountain Ski Area will become the sixth largest ski area in the Northeast. The Park Agency decision drew criticism from regional environmental groups such as the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, and two of its own board members, particularly over the agency's failure to conduct a formal adjudicative hearing before approving the application. Among the criticisms levied against the FrontStreet developers and the Park Agency were issues including a general lack of information on the project, fiscal concerns, questions regarding affordable housing in the area, and the projects impact on local resources and businesses. Two APA board members voted against the project openly voicing concerns about the lack of a formal hearing and the precedent set by this significant decision for other projects in the park. Former Town of Johnsburg Supervisor and APA board member William Thomas, recused himself from the deliberations due to a potential conflict of interest. FrontStreet developers remain optimistic about the project, and point to their predictions for increased economic growth and employment in the area. The connection with Gore Mountain, the restoration of the historic Ski Bowl for public skiing and the development of the FrontStreet complex will collectively bring significant revenue, economic growth, and employment opportunity to the surrounding communities including the town of Johnsburg and the North Country in general, a FrontStreet statement said.