Mount Morris is home to the Big Tupper Ski Area.
The first shot against the recently approved Adirondack Club and Resort has been fired.
Protect the Adirondacks!, the Sierra Club, and three nearby landowners filed suit March 20 against the Adirondack Park Agency, the Department of Environmental Conservation, and the developer proposing the 700-plus unit project in the Town of Tupper Lake, which was approved by the Agency on Jan. 20.
The Agency approved the controversial ACR project with a 10-1 vote in January. 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.
“People have lost a lot of sleep over this,” said DEC designee Judy Drabicki.
“This brings the opportunity of economic development to Tupper Lake,” said Commissioner Bill Thomas.
Commissioner Richard Booth 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 APA’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.”
Many residents and businesspeople from Tupper Lake were at the Jan. 20 meeting in support of the project, including Tupper Lake Village Mayor and Franklin County Legislator Paul Maroun, Jim LaValley of the ARISE (Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving Their Economy) group, Mark Moeller of the Tupper Lake Business Community, and David Tomberlin of the Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce Board and Tupper Lake Town Board.
After the decision, Protect issued the following statement, which may have foreshadowed their intent:
“The APA staff and board have issued a ruling which is a slap in the face of all previous boards who, by and large, have made the hard decisions to enforce the law and protect our Park,” said Robert Harrison, one of the group’s three co-chairs, in a prepared statement. “This board, influenced by a misguided presentation by the APA Executive Staff, has torn apart the very foundation of the Adirondack Park Agency Act. It is truly a very sad day.”
Protect further stated their case in a March 20 press release.
"When Governor Rockefeller signed the law creating the APA, he is said to have proclaimed 'The Adirondacks are saved forever',” said Bob Glennon of Protect, a former Counsel and Executive Director of the Agency who is assisting in the lawsuit. "He was tragically wrong. It is now up to Governor Cuomo, who has often visited the Adirondacks with his family, and who has proven he can get things done in Albany, to give the agency charged with preserving the largest natural area east of the Mississippi for 19 million New Yorkers and future generations, a badly-needed backbone implant."
"In the last few years APA has become a rogue agency that ignores the law for political ends" said John Caffry of Protect, the lead attorney in the case. "Its rubber-stamp approval of this project, the largest ever to come before it, is only the latest example of this unfortunate trend."
The suit, filed in the Supreme Court in Albany County, and expected to be transferred by that court to the Appellate Division, Third Department, is returnable on May 11.
Caffry, Glennon and Roger Downs, Conservation Director of the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, will hold a press briefing at 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 22, in the Legislative Correspondents' Association room in the Legislative Office Building in Albany.