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LaValley responds to WDT letter
May 9, 2012 - Jessica Collier
Jim LaValley wrote a response to the letter to the editor in the Watertown Daily Times the other day that I blogged about in this post. The letter was from a St. Lawrence University student who studied the project and argued that the APA did not do a sufficient review of it.
LaValley and I talked about possibly running his response in our paper, but we probably aren’t going to. It would be confusing, considering the fact that we didn’t run the original letter to the editor from Matthias Nevins and it’s a pretty direct response to that letter. But since I blogged about it, I’m posting his response here. I think it may appear in the Watertown Daily Times at some point in the future.
Here ya go:
Dear Editor: I was surprised and disappointed, in the direction of the letter recently written by Matthias Nevins, regarding the Adirondack Club and Resort, proposed in Tupper Lake. I was one of the people he interviewed, and I feel he missed several important points. I respect Matthias' opinion, but it was clear that his position was established before we talked, and that the points in his letter are misleading.
He claims that “the size and extent of the development is simply too large.” What he did not say was that this is private land, that met all of the stringent Adirondack Park Agency intensity guidelines, and after 8 years of review. The Commissioners of the Adirondack Park Agency voted in favor of the project by an overwhelming 10 to 1 margin. Bottom line – the Adirondack Club not only followed the rules established by the most restrictive zoning Agency in the country, they surpassed them by doing less than what is mathematically allowed.
Matthias claims that “sufficient real estate demand does not exist, and Preserve Associates are principally concerned with obtaining profit from the expensive great camp lots and are not committed to restoring economic welfare to the Tupper Lake community as they claim.” What he did not say is that one of the main Adirondack Club investors has been investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into a struggling downtown area. He is restoring old buildings, and has been part of attracting 22 new businesses that want to relocate to Tupper Lake. As far as the real estate demand – markets are returning and there was a sharp increase in inquiries prior to the recent Article 78 appeal filed by two preservationist groups and three landowners (which by the way, will cost the taxpayers of New York State in excess of $3 Million Dollars). If the ACR was not confident in sales, why would they have hung in there for eight years. As to the profit motive, when has that become a terrible thing.
Matthias expresses that there are “ecological concerns, habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation, steep slope development and the degradation of resource management lands. Also the lack of considerate land planning without adequate real-estate clustering has inspired many environmental oppositions and lawsuits against the APA.” What he did not say is all of those concerns were addressed over an 8 year period of review, with the ACR investors making many concessions to alleviate those concerns. And, much of what he is echoing from the preservationist groups is simply a philosophical position that is not part of the current rules and regulations. This fact was recognized by the Adirondack Council, the strongest environmental advocacy group in the Park. They ultimately supported the resort project because they agreed that under the current guidelines, this project was more than acceptable. The Adirondack Council and ten of the eleven Commissioners agreed that this project did not rise to the level of undue adverse impact. In fact, to reject this project would have resulted in an undue adverse impact on the human ecosystem.
Matthias went further and stated that “the APA, since its creation in 1971 has struggled with balancing development and conservation projects, and the ACR represents the largest development project ever approved in the Adirondack State Park history.” The second part is true. The ACR is the largest project approved by the APA. What he did not reference was the Adirondack Park Regional Assessment Project that shows the Park gets an A+ for environmental protection, but fails at protecting the human ecosystem. The APRAP report shows that the Park is losing students at a rate that is equivalent to losing one mid sized school every 19 months. That the median age of the Park is growing and in a few short years will be second only to the west coast of Florida. That there is an over reliance on public sector employment, and that has become very tenuous. Striking balance in the Park has always been a serious debate. Since 1971, the people of the Park have felt that the scales have tipped seriously in the wrong direction, and that with the approval of the ACR, the APA Commissioners provided hope that a balanced consideration to the human ecosystem must be given.
Matthias finishes by saying, “It is my personal opinion that this project should never have been approved due to the lack of ecological surveying and appropriate environmental planning deemed necessary by the APA.” To repeat, the ACR played by the established Adirondack Park Agency rules – rules that are the most restrictive in our country. Eight years of review, and at a cost to the developer of $12M dollars. This project is located on private land, with guidelines that are clearly established. Also, Matthias did not mention that the ACR project still is required to have approvals from NYS DEC, NYS DOH, NYS Attorney General, Army Corps of Engineers, and the Town/Village Planning Board of Tupper Lake.
Matthias has a right to express his opinion, but it is misleading to state that there was, and is, a lack of appropriate review.
Jim LaValley, Chairman
ARISE - Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving their Economy
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