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The January APA vote gave the Adirondack Club and Resort projec the green light. Photo: Brian Mann
The January APA vote gave the Adirondack Club and Resort projec the green light. Photo: Brian Mann

Green groups sue to block Adirondack Club and Resort

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Environmental groups and property owners in Tupper Lake say they're suing the state of New York, hoping to stop construction of the Adirondack Club and Resort.

The suit filed late yesterday in state Supreme Court accuses the Adirondack Park Agency of permitting the project back in January without following state environmental laws and regulations.

The suit sparked anger in Tupper Lake this morning.

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Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

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NOTE:  This text has been updated and differs from the audio.

In a statement released late last night through the Adirondack Almanack blog, Protect the Adirondacks and the Sierra Club called the APA a “rogue” agency and accused state officials of “ignoring” environmental law “for political ends.” 

In an interview this morning, Protect attorney Bob Glennon said the Park Agency decision was vulnerable to legal challenge.

"No lawyer can predict 'we're going to win'," Glennon said, but said the suit should be a wake-up call to APA officials.  "Hey, guys, here is your statute, here is your regulation, here's what you didn't do."

Park Agency officials have declined to talk about the possibility of litigation, but after the commission reached its 10-to-1 decision in January, APA chairwoman Lani Ulrich said her staff had concluded that the project was legal and environmentally appropriate.

"We really do believe that in this setting, using this resource, the undue adverse impact concern and worry has been addressed and we can move forward," Ulrich said.

The Adirondack Club and Resort as approved includes more than 600 luxury homes and condos, as well as a hotel, a marina and other amenities. Many environmentalists wanted the homes clustered more closely together to preserve open space and limit impacts on wildlife.

Green groups also say the project could set a dangerous precedent for future large-scale development in the Park.

This lawsuit comes after years of emotionally charged debate in Tupper Lake. Jim LaValley heads a group called ARISE that formed to support the resort project and reopen the Big Tupper ski hill.

He told North Country Public Radio this morning that the decision wasn’t a surprise.

"It's certainly upsetting. We would have thought that a vote of 10-to-1 would have sent a clear signal. But some of these groups think they know better than the Adirondack Park Agency."

Lead developer Michael Foxman couldn’t be reached this morning for comment, but while speaking with reporters in January he acknowledged that a lawsuit could delay the project.

The environmental community has been starkly divided on the question of whether a lawsuit should be filed in this case. Speaking this week, the head of the Park’s biggest green group, the Adirondack Council, told North Country Public Radio that a suit would be a mistake.

"I think the courts would give great deference to the Agency after a seven year review," Houseal said.

It’s also noteworthy that another prominent group, Adirondack Wild, appears to not be a party to this lawsuit.

According to the statement released yesterday, three landowners have joined in suing the Park Agency.  Phyllis Thompson, an adjoining landowner of the resort issued a statement saying “It saddens me, it angers me, to see that APA statutes have not been enforced.”

Attorneys for the Sierra Club and Protect the Adirondacks say they’ll hold a press conference to talk about the case tomorrow morning in Albany.

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