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5 more resort issues

Part 2 of 2

October 18, 2010
By JESSICA COLLIER, Enterprise Staff Writer

TUPPER LAKE - On Saturday, the Enterprise looked at the first half of the 10 issues to be discussed in the adjudicatory hearing for the proposed Adirondack Club and Resort project. The following is the remaining five issues.


Issue 6 - Public benefits and burdens

Article Photos

Snow dusts the Big Tupper Ski Area last November. The ski slope is the centerpiece of a proposed resort for Mount Morris and the land around it, which will have its fate decided in an adjudicatory hearing that is scheduled to start back up this Wednesday with a pre-hearing conference.
(Enterprise file photo — Jessica Collier)

What is the burden on and benefits to the public?

John Sheehan, spokesman for the Adirondack Council, said one of his environmental group's biggest concerns is making sure the village is able to reap benefits from the development's success. He said he'd like to see some sort of community benefit agreement in which the developer agrees to pay a fee to the local government entities on a scale proportional to how successful the development is. He said this could take many forms, including guaranteeing a certain amount of workforce housing or building a community center or other amenity for the localities.

"It's a way of making sure that everybody in town gets the benefit from the new development, instead of just the richest people in town," Sheehan said.

Fact Box



Residential units

- 651 residential units in 323 residential buildings

- Includes 198 single-family homes and 453 townhouses in 125 buildings, ranging from two to four units


Big Tupper Ski Area

- Significant infrastructure improvements will be made to chairlifts, snowmaking and grooming operations

- Tubing hill will be added

- Friday night skiing will be re-instituted

- New 2,900-foot-long chairlift and 1.24 miles of ski trails available to the public proposed on the west side of the existing ski mountain for creating and accessing ski in/ski out residential units

- Sugarloaf ski trail will no longer be available for skiing since it is the location of West Slopeside ski in/ski out housing


McDonald's Marina

- Existing building demolished; new, two-story building constructed

- First floor will be storage and office space

- Middle floor will be at ground level on the state Route 30 side of the building, will house marina office space and retail sales of fishing and boating supplies

- Top floor includes private clubroom and storage area for retail store

- Membership to Raquette River Club, giving access to the clubroom, will be offered to 100-150 lot owners as part of their purchases. They, their families and guests will be able to use the clubroom for meetings, lounging and small parties with limited food service for up to 50 people.

- Existing docks replaced and more added for a total of 40 boat slips, with rental boats and gasoline sales available to the public


Equestrian Center

- Not a commercial operation, nor will it host competitions. Meant for up to 10 horses to be boarded by resort residents.

- Comprised of a barn, paddock, jumping area and dressage ring and connects to resort trails


Hiking trails

- Miles of hiking trails

- Located so hikers can access appealing areas of the property, including the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, the top of Mount Morris, around Cranberry Pond, along Hemlock Brook and along the brook and waterfall to the east of the ski area


Base Lodge area

- Actually a complex of buildings designed to evoke the rustic character of the classic Adirondack Great Camps

- Will serve as a year-round meeting place for visitors and residents, potentially hosting conferences, weddings and town- or village-oriented community activities.

- An area for recreation and large gatherings

- Coffee shop/snack bar

- Living room/library

- Bar/lounge

- Restaurant

- Interior corridor as well as autdoor walkways, decks, porches and terraces

- Food service available throughout the year through either snack bar or restaurant

- Adjoining common terrace to serve large outdoor gatherings

- Additional base area buildings include a learning center, ski services building including ski patrol offices, a gym and recreation center building and a clubhouse and spa

- Skating pond, fire pit and informal bandstand/amphitheatre

- All architecture in the Adirondack style

- Complex meant to be dominated by pedestrian circulation, with parking to be minimized at the base area and the majority of it encouraged for satellite lots, with a car drop-off and a shuttle system to transport skiers to the base area


Preserved open space

- About 86 percent of the site (5,402 acres) will remain open space

- Open space consists of recreational open space, in the form of the ski area, common open space outside of any private lands, and private open space, mostly on great camp lots (trail network is on common and recreational open space lands)


- Information provided by APA

ACR lead developer Michael Foxman said workforce housing isn't a problem, according to the economist his group enlisted to study the issue. He said if it becomes a problem, the project owners would help solve it.

"We have to have employees," Foxman said. "They aren't going to camp out in tents. If there's a demand, either the market will supply it or, if the market can't supply it for some reason, we're going to have to help the market, because we can't afford not to have employees."


Issue 7 - Forest Preserve state facilities use and impacts

What are the impacts, alternatives and appropriate conditions on the use of Forest Preserve, such as state facilities in intensive use areas?

Foxman said he doesn't understand why this was named as an issue in the first place. He said there is so much space in the Park that if the resort was packed full of people and each went off in a different direction, the odds would be good that they'd never see one another.

Sheehan also said he doesn't see this as an issue that will have much consequence.


Issue 8 - Wetlands

Are there alternatives to minimize interference with wetlands?

Foxman said the project plans to disturb a half-acre of wetlands, and developers are doing as much as possible to mitigate the impacts on them.

He said the wetlands - soft areas on either side of the ski lodge, some areas where roads cross streams, and the marina - are "almost comical" because of how small they are.

"There should not be any problem," Foxman said. "We've done everything within the rules, and I can't imagine that the regulations would have missed anything."

Sheehan said the Council is concerned about wetland pollution in a few areas, especially in the Lake Simond View subdivision, where roads are planned to run over steep terrain. He said the steep slope means rain and snow run off more quickly, carrying residue into streams and wetlands.


Issue 9 - Stormwater management

Are there undue adverse stormwater impacts?

Many of the revised application materials submitted in June were plans for stormwater management.

Developers are getting an individual stormwater permit for every lot from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which has asked for a 60-day extension to review the materials before determining whether they are complete.

"We don't expect any problem," Foxman said.

Sheehan said the Council is still reviewing the stormwater plans.

"It's better, but I don't know if we're there 100 percent yet," Sheehan said.


Issue 10 - Permit and condition compliance

What are the appropriate mechanisms to coordinate and ensure compliance with application commitments and permit conditions as the project is undertaken?

Foxman said this shouldn't be a point of contention because on every project approved by the APA, the applicant is required to hire people to make sure the project is constructed in compliance with the approved application and permit conditions.

The Council has said it would prefer the APA have full authority over the work done by the hired monitor. It also has said the homeowners association planned for certain parts of the resort encompass all residents there.


Other issues

Daniel P. O'Connell, the administrative law judge overseeing the hearing, said that during the pre-hearing conference, he will consider if any new issues should be considered.

Sheehan said the Council doesn't plan on introducing any new issues.

Foxman said that, while he's certain some groups will try to raise new issues, he doubts there would be any that actually deal with new material.

"The original 10 issues were written so broadly you could include almost anything within them if you wanted to," Foxman said.



The original hearing order also included a number of issues that the APA deemed unnecessary for discussion, like compliance with the Park's Land Use and Development Plan, conformance with overall intensity guidelines, and rare, threatened and endangered species.



While environmental groups and developers are working now to prepare for the hearing, other parties are waiting for the pre-hearing conference to figure out what to prepare.

Tupper Lake Mayor Mickey Desmarais said the village will likely hire a lawyer to represent it, but the board has been hesitant to do so until there is a more clear timeline for the process. He noted that there have been several postponements, and he hopes there isn't another.

"I hope Mr. Foxman is ready so we can go," Desmarais said. "This pre-hearing thing, I think, is going to tell us what we have to prepare for."

Town Supervisor Roger Amell declined to comment on the 10 issues ahead of the conference, but the town board voted Friday afternoon to use Kirk Gagnier, counsel for the joint town/village planning board, to represent the town as well, effectively consolidating those two parties.

Protect the Adirondacks!, the group formed from the Residents' Committee to Protect the Adirondacks and the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, which were both originally granted party status, plans to participate in the hearing. Bob Harrison, vice chair of Protect's executive committee, said the organization won't comment on specific issues until after the pre-hearing conference.



Foxman said he hopes O'Connell will be a firm judge and move the process along quickly.

Sheehan said the Council expects the Park Agency to come out of the hearing with a recommendation for some kind of permit with conditions, and he said the Council wants to make sure those conditions are as protective as possible to the natural resources and the community.

He also said he expects Foxman will sell the permitted project to someone else once it's gotten all the necessary approvals.

"We're assuming that someone else is going to own it," Sheehan said. "The expectation is that he is looking for a quick cash-in and to be out of town as soon as possible when it's over with."

He also mentioned the Front Street development approved by the APA for the North Creek Ski Bowl area. That project was approved a few years ago, but the only thing that has been constructed so far is a single model home, which he said is something that could happen with the ACR project as well.

But Foxman said he's hopeful they may be able to break ground by summer 2011. He said it's 90 percent likely an APA permit will be issued by the spring, but he expects an appeal if the permit is issued.

He said he expects any appeal to go quickly, though, since the APA's extensive review will be in the hearing record.



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