Adirondack Park Agency Commissioner Bill Thomas, of Johnsburg, asks APA Senior Natural Resources Planner Matt Kendall, right, about the Adirondack Club and Resort project during the Jan. 20 meeting.
The vote was 10-1.
Before the 11 board members cast their votes — in alphabetical order — they explained why they voted yes or no. Almost all agreed that the review process, which took almost eight years, needed improvement. But that didn’t stop most from approving the resort planned around the Big Tupper Ski Area on Mount Morris.
“This brings the opportunity of economic development to Tupper Lake,” Thomas said.
“People have lost a lot of sleep over this,” said DEC designee Judy Drabicki.
“I’ve agonized over this decision,” said Commissioner Art Lussi, of Lake Placid. “It’s hard because you have to take sides … I think this plan is very thoughtfully done.”
Commissioner Richard Booth, a lawyer from Ithaca, was the only one to vote against the project, citing three main reasons: the sponsors failed to provide realistic sales figures; no wildlife inventory was required or completed, and there was no review on how the project would impact wildlife; and the project is not consistent with the Park Agency’s resource management zoning.
“I think these three flaws that I mention have caused me to conclude that this project is not consistent with the plan,” Booth said. “There is an undue adverse impact.”
The developers — Preserve Associates —still need to obtain a number of permits from other agencies, including the Department of Health and Department of Environmental Conservation, prior to construction. The lead developers — Michael Foxman and Tom Lawson — watched the vote at APA Headquarters in the middle of an audience of 58 people.
The Park Agency’s approval includes a project order and 14 permits for the various project components, which are conditioned to ensure no undue adverse impacts occur as a result of this development.
It took almost eight years for the APA to approve the project.
About the project
The Adirondack Club and Resort site is about 6,235 acres of property and includes lands of the former Big Tupper Ski Area, the surrounding Oval Wood Dish landholdings, and the former McDonald’s Marina. It includes about 1,800 feet of frontage on Lake Simond and about 235 feet on Big Tupper Lake at the marina.
The applicant proposes to develop a planned resort development with a ski center, a marina with 40 boat slips, an equestrian facility, a resort owners' clubhouse, a gym/spa recreation center, recreation trails for hiking and cross-country skiing, a 60-unit West Face Inn, and 706 single-family and multiple-family residential dwelling units: 206 single-family dwellings; 39 Great Camps; eight Artist Cabins at the base lodge area of the ski center; and 453 townhouse units (duplexes, triplexes and quadplexes).
The developers plan to undertake the project in four phases over 15 years. The Adirondack Club is being marketed as an Orvis Sporting Lifestyle Community.
Bill Thomas comments
Adirondack Park Agency (APA) Commissioner Bill Thomas — a former Johnsburg Town supervisor — explained his “yes” vote to the public Jan. 20 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook.
“I’m really happy to see we’ve got an economic development person (Dan Kelleher) on board to help us review the project,” Thomas said. “It helped me make my decision on the overall project.”
He continued: “This project has been before this board since before I was a commissioner, and I became a commissioner in December 2006.
“I recall going to an adjudicatory hearing on this project and having all the paperwork that I reviewed at that time, and I have reams of paperwork at home. Maybe I don’t have to keep them now? Reviewing all that and coming to the point of the project coming back to us recently, there are some things I need to say.
“I need to thank the staff for all their work. This project was not approvable without the conditions that they added to this. Just looking at basically the permit that we were starting with, and the project that we were starting with, there needed to be a lot of adjustments to that. And that was handled very well and appropriately by the staff.
“They also have findings and conditions, 14 permits. I don’t think we’ll ever see 14 permits involved in one project again in our lifetime.
“The tour of the sites that we took. Ed (Snizek) took us all to the sites and showed us all the areas, which was very helpful when reviewing this project in the end.
“I am from local government. I was a supervisor for a long time, and I looked for ways for this project to be acceptable.
“I saw a lot of negatives. I saw a lot of things that needed to be worked on. I do agree with a lot of Commissioner Booth’s comments. I’m not an attorney, so I guess my review of the project was intensified some because I was not an attorney. I had to try and understand what they were saying, because sometimes they speak a different language.
“But I think this project in the end protects large areas, which we talked about yesterday with the Great Camps. We are protecting large areas of land there. And I do have a problem with the invasive part of the things, but I think the conditions satisfied me that it will be taken care of.
“The biggest thing in the end of all of this, and all of the review, to me was this brings the opportunity for economic development to Tupper Lake. It is something that is badly needed in that community and a lot of communities in the Adirondacks.
“So, as I said, I’m voting yes, and that’s my comment. Thank you.”