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Planning board approves allowances for first ACR phase

November 12, 2012
By JESSICA COLLIER - Staff Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

TUPPER LAKE - The planning board moved forward with the first phase of the Adirondack Club and Resort at a special meeting Thursday afternoon.

The board approved a series of waivers and deferrals as part of developer Preserve Associates' application for the first part of the project.

Board members also asked town Planner Paul O'Leary and Assistant Planner Mike Fritts to make a recommendation as to whether the board needs to hold a hearing to approve the first portion of the project.

Article Photos

Adirondack Club and Resort attorney Bob Sweeney shows the Tupper Lake planning board at a Thursday meeting where his group hopes to build out the first section of the large development project. Planning board members are, from left, Bob Collier, Jim Ellis, Ben Peets and Shawn Stuart.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)

The first portion of the plan includes all the large "great camp" lots and some of the small ones. A total of 22 lots will be included, with one lot dedicated to a road, three open space lots and 18 single-family residences. It will involve 3,625 acres of the 6,235 total in the project site.

That portion of the project would require 36,175 feet of new power lines and 3,070 feet of new roads, according to the application materials submitted to the planning board in August.

The plan includes the demolition of two hunting camps on the sites.

Fact Box

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.

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.


Waivers and deferrals

ACR attorney Bob Sweeney was at the planning board with developer Tom Lawson Thursday afternoon. Sweeney explained the waivers and deferrals that Preserve Associates requested.

There were several administrative waivers Sweeney sought based on the town's subdivision regulation application requirements, like the kind of paper the plans are submitted on and the size of the plans. The larger-scale plans typically required aren't practical in development projects of the ACR's size, 6,235 acres, Sweeney said.

Sweeney also asked to be excused from providing some information, like maps of rock outcroppings, trees and other significant features on adjacent properties. He noted that his group can't get on a lot of the adjacent properties and that it would take too much time and effort.

"Putting all that information on, we'd never get back to you," Sweeney said.

He also requested that requirements for road grade and width and driveway grade be waived in several locations.

He said most of the roads will use existing logging roads, and his group is trying to disturb as little terrain as possible and stick as closely as possible to the plans approved by the state Adirondack Park Agency in January.

"The project is designed to work with the existing roads," Sweeney said.

Planning board members asked questions about stormwater management, emergency vehicle access and other issues. Sweeney said none of those concerns would be problems.

Sweeney noted that two bridges will need to be approved by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Preserve Associates is also asking for the planning board to hold off on some information it would normally require before granting approval, like providing all lot lines from a field survey. The group already provided a survey of the perimeter of the project, and specific interior lot lines will be required before any building permit is applied for or an unimproved lot is sold anyway, Sweeney said.

"Our surveyor will do that piece by piece as we move through the project," Sweeney said. "There are miles and miles of sidelines."



Sweeney advised board members that if they found the Preserve Associates' application for the first part of its project is consistent enough with the preliminary approval they gave the project in November 2010, they have the authority to waive the need to hold public hearing on plans for the first phase.

Board member Jim Ellis asked that O'Leary and Fritts examine the issue and get back to board members with a recommendation on whether a hearing would be necessary.

About 130 people showed up to the board's October 2010 hearing on preliminary approval, held at the L.P. Quinn Elementary School cafeteria for extra space. Most of the people who spoke at that hearing talked in general about the project's economic potential, the need for growth in Tupper Lake and the desire for the Big Tupper Ski Area to be open and financially stable, rather than about specifics of the plan.


Special meeting

The board brought up the waivers and deferrals at its September meeting and decided no action was necessary in light of the Article 78 lawsuit being brought against developers and the state over the APA's January decision on the project.

When asked why a special meeting had to be scheduled to discuss the issue rather than talking about it at the board's regular October or November meeting, Larkin dodged the question, saying he didn't have anything better to do that day and wouldn't offer any further explanation.

Lawson told the Enterprise only that he wants to get to work as soon as possible. He said he's not sure what the timeline will be for the lawsuit against the project, noting that anything could happen with that.

The application materials for the planning board call April 1, 2013, the date developers will begin the project.

"April is a long ways away," Lawson said. "I would love to do it sooner."


Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 26 or



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