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Groundwork laid for resort hearing

March 9, 2011
By JESSICA COLLIER, Enterprise Staff Writer

TUPPER LAKE - The state Adirondack Park Agency last week distributed a draft of conditions it could attach to the Adirondack Club and Resort project's permit.

These draft conditions and summary are what parties will try to keep or change in an adjudicatory hearing set to start with a public comment session Wednesday, March 16, followed by seven weeks of hearing dates beginning Tuesday, March 22.

The proposed resort would overhaul the Big Tupper Ski Area and built out the land around it in the biggest development ever to submit a complete application to the APA. The agency ordered the project into an adjudicatory hearing to examine 10 issues with its potential impacts before deciding whether to permit it.

The conditions would give the APA many chances to review how the project is going, with the agency getting regular updates and needing to give approvals as construction and sales progress.

According to the draft conditions, a permit wouldn't be valid after five years unless several benchmarks are met. Some include:

-Ski Tow Road, which leads to the ski slope, must be reconstructed, Lake Simond Road Extension, which leads to many of the larger residential lots, must be improved, and a new road, called Bypass Road, must be constructed.

-The proposed new ski lodge has to be constructed, and ski lift Chair 2 must be replaced.

-At least three lots in Sugarloaf North, 10 lots in Lake Simond View and eight Eastern Great Camp lots must be sold.

The conditions would also require that a planned sewage pump station and an on-site community wastewater treatment plant and sewage collection system have to be built before any buildings planned to connect to them are sold or built.


Cranberry Bog

The conditions would allow for the temporary use of Cranberry Bog, referred to in the documents as the Cranberry Pond Reservoir and its associated wetland complex, for snowmaking. That's been an oft-cited concern by involved environmental groups, though the bog has been used for snowmaking by past owners of Big Tupper.

The conditions would require that developers come up with methods to study the impacts of using the bog for snowmaking, including measuring the water levels and animal and plant life there and keeping track of how those change. Developers would have to make detailed annual reports to the APA and state Department of Environmental Conservation.

A new or revised permit would have to be issued to continue to use the bog for snowmaking after April 1, 2013.

Developers plan to build new wetlands to lessen the impact on some existing ones, in the Cranberry Bog area and in front of the marina on state Route 30. Conditions would require that construction be started on those within 60 days of the initial commencement of land clearing or other construction activities at the project site.

They would also require the wetlands be monitored and a report submitted to the agency within 18 months of them being constructed, and the APA would then decide whether the mitigation efforts are successful.


Other conditions

The conditions would require the master homeowners' association - one master HOA is planned with several smaller ones to govern certain parts of the development - to submit annual reports to the APA.

They would also require that "great camp" lots include in their deed language restricting how many buildings are allowed to be built on the large lots, and requiring that any land clearing or grading be within a 3-acre maximum envelope.

Developers wouldn't be able to move on to the next phase of construction until 65 percent of the townhouse units are built and 65 percent of the single-family houses are sold in the previous phase.

Great camp lots would also be banned from connecting to the municipal water supply system.

The conditions would also regulate invasive species management on the project site, soil treatment, signage, outdoor lighting, building colors and foliage planting, among other things.

They would also require the project take many energy-conservation steps, including getting LEED certification for the new lodge, spa, inn, marina, gym and ski center maintenance buildings.



Lead developer Michael Foxman said that while he expects minor updates of the summary and fine-tuning of the conditions, he's highly satisfied with them.

"I consider the documents and the APA's action very significant," Foxman wrote in an e-mail. "The documents evidence the APA's concern for both the environment and the local economy. They will be helpful to all involved and should sharpen the focus of the hearing. This is a very positive step for which the APA staff should be commended."

John Sheehan, spokesman for the Adirondack Council environmental group, said his group has a "short list of concerns" that it plans to address in the upcoming hearing. He said that list is reduced from a dozen broad issues the Council named at the start of the mediation process in 2007.

For one, he notes that the draft summary uses some outdated numbers: 719 residential units in 332 buildings rather than the 651 residential units in 323 buildings that were included in application update submitted to the agency in June 2010.

Sheehan said members of the Council also have concerns about stormwater runoff, minimizing sprawl in favor of maintaining wildlife habitats, the phasing of the project, how some townhouse buildings will impact the "natural beauty" of the mountain and the fact that the project must also get permits from the DEC and the state Department of Health. The Council will present testimony on each of those issues during the hearing, Sheehan said.



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