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Resort conditions detailed

Planning board expected to take steps to ensure ski area is improved, open to public

February 13, 2013
By JESSICA COLLIER - Staff Writer (jcollier@adirondackdailyenterprise.com) , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

TUPPER LAKE - The planning board is expected to make a decision on the first phase of the Adirondack Club and Resort at the end of the month.

The board held a hearing on the topic at the end of January. A train station full of Tupper Lakers who had come out in frigid weather expressed frustration when the board said it wouldn't make a decision at that hearing, since it had just received new paperwork from the ACR developers when they arrived in town that day.

At the time, planning board Chairman Jim Larkin was vague about what the paperwork was, calling it "information" from the developers. Town Planner Paul O'Leary has since provided the Enterprise with copies of the paperwork: drafts of the two resolutions ACR developers are asking the planning board to approve.

The first is a resolution approving the first phase of the project, which would build out 22 lots on about 3,200 acres on the east side of the project grounds, including 18 single-family homes that have private sewer, water and roads.

The resolution attaches a number of conditions to the development, which have been reworked since they were originally approved when the board gave the entire project preliminary approval in 2010. The most notable difference is a fund set aside for improvements to the Big Tupper Ski Area.

It sets out that 7.25 percent of the gross sale price of each of the 18 lots in the first phase be used for "operation and maintenance of and capital improvements to the Big Tupper ski area." The percentage would only apply to the land price, not any improvements on the land like buildings.

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The money would be put into an escrow account at Community Bank in Tupper Lake, and it would be deposited directly from each lot sale closing.

The fund would be managed and disbursements would need to be approved by a committee consisting of the developer, the entity operating the ski area and the town supervisor or his or her designee.

The draft of the resolution sets forth that the parties intend to give priority to making the improvements necessary to reopening the ski area, like lift improvements, maintenance and operation, trail maintenance, and payments supporting a nonprofit operator or other ski area manager.

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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, 2012, after eight years of negotiating, reworking the application and an extensive adjudicatory hearing.

In March 2012, 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 to that, 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.

The ski slope was run for the last three ski seasons by a local nonprofit called Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving Their Economy, but it didn't open this winter. ARISE officials blamed environmental groups bringing a lawsuit against the developers and the state Adirondack Park Agency for their approval of the project, but the environmental groups argued that ARISE funding was probably low because of a mild 2011-12 winter, during which Big Tupper was only open 11 days.

Other conditions in the draft resolution include no commercial or retail businesses at the ACR other than those directly incidental to the plan and approved by the planning board, third-party monitors to oversee the installation of public infrastructure and signage that meets 911 emergency best practices.

The conditions also require that the ski slope be available for public use for the first 50 years after its initial opening, and they set out that no certificate of occupancy will be awarded on a number of the "great camp" lots in the first phase until the private road and rights of way providing access to the lots are improved.

The second resolution reaffirms the board's 2010 resolution that designates the project as a State Environmental Quality Review Act Type II action, which means it isn't subject to any further review under SEQRA by the planning board due to the environmental review done by the APA.

When the planning board met earlier this month for a hearing on The Wild Center's Wild Walk, planning board member Bob Collier asked what the status was of the ACR permit, noting the public pressure to pass the project.

Planners said the planning board and ACR attorneys were working together to iron out the details of the conditions in the resolutions, and that the developers are fine with that.

"So it would make sense to wait," Collier said. "I don't want to get lynched."

At the January hearing, ACR attorney Bob Sweeney made it clear that the project has other hoops to jump through and the planning board process isn't holding anything up. That didn't satisfy the anxious crowd, though.

The board's regular meeting is 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27.

 
 

 

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