TUPPER LAKE - Green groups challenging the state Adirondack Park Agency's approval of the Adirondack Club and Resort development say the APA's permits for the resort have expired.
Protect the Adirondacks and the Sierra Club announced Monday they have submitted a formal request to the APA asking it to tell the ACR it can't issue final permits since it hasn't met the conditions required with its approval.
They argue that Preserve Associates, the development group proposing the project, hasn't completed conditions requiring them to complete a number of studies and revised plans. They noted that none of the 14 draft permits have had final permits issued for them yet, no extensions or modifications have been sought, and no filings of additional information have been made by the ACR.
The APA Act calls for approvals subject to conditions to expire in six months if the conditions related to the approval are not met, the groups say.
"The order is clearly an 'approval subject to conditions,'" Protect attorney John Caffry wrote in a Sept. 5 letter to the APA.
He said in a press release that for the project to move forward, developers need to start the entire permitting process - which has lasted eight years by now - over from the beginning.
But APA spokesman Keith McKeever said the six-month requirement is the standard, but the law allows for specifying another timeline, which he said was done in the ACR's project order.
"In this case, because it's a phased project going over a long period of time ... we have a 10-year time period," McKeever told the Enterprise. "It's right on page one, paragraph two of the project order."
THE ADIRONDACK CLUB AND RESORT, proposed by a Pennsylvania-based investment group called Preserve Associates, would overhaul the Big Tupper Ski Area in Tupper Lake and build out the land around it with about 700 luxury housing units and various amenities including a spa, a marina and an equestrian center. The project received permits from the state Adirondack Park Agency on Jan. 20 after eight years of negotiating, reworking the application and an extensive adjudicatory hearing.
In March, two environmental groups and three nearby landowners filed a lawsuit to challenge the APA's decision. That suit is working its way through state courts.
In addition, the project must also obtain a number of other approvals, including from the state departments of Environmental Conservation and Health, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the local town-village planning board.
"With all due respect to Keith, he is wrong," Caffry wrote in an email to the Enterprise.
He argues that the 10-year period only comes into play once the permits are issued, and they haven't been yet. That means the provision for conditional approval must be followed, which means the developers had six months to complete any conditions.
Lead ACR developer Michael Foxman called the move a delay tactic and said it's the other way around. He suggested Caffry is intentionally confusing the project order and the decision to approve the project with the project's permits. He argues the decision was not conditional while the permits have conditions in them.
"What Caffry has done is taken a time period that applies only to a conditional order and tried to apply it to an unconditional order," Foxman said. "There are a lot of things that have to be done before conveyance, but those aren't conditions. The conditions that most of what you're thinking about ... are the conditions in the individual 14 permits, but they are not conditions to the APA decision. They are conditions of the permits that will be granted when we apply for them."
Foxman said he believes the issue is an attempt by Protect and the Sierra Club to create doubt in the community about the project and to further delay it.
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