TUPPER LAKE - As Friday's deadline draws near for closing briefs in an adjudicatory hearing on the Adirondack Club and Resort near, ACR advocates attended a village board meeting Monday night to encourage the board to submit a positive brief to the state Adirondack Park Agency.
Local businessmen Doug Wright, Mark Moeller, Jim LaValley and David Tomberlin were joined by ACR investors Tom and Susan Lawson at the meeting, but only Wright spoke.
Wright said the Tupper Lake community is holding its collective breath now that the adjudicatory hearing process has come to the end of the line and is nearing a decision.
He urged the board to publicly acknowledge that there are a number of important areas where the village board agrees with the project's developers and advocates.
"Where we agree and the positive aspects of this agreement are not as sensational (as the parts of the argument that have regularly been reported on), and they seem to be overlooked at times," Wright said. "I think that where it counts, we actually agree and we see eye to eye, though we're not always speaking in the same voice."
Wright named five points he wants the village board to agree to, which he said were the most important points for Tupper Lake's future and the ones he thinks the village board should focus on.
The Adirondack Club and Resort is a proposed project that would overhaul the Big Tupper Ski Area and build out the land around it with up to 699 luxury housing units and various amenities including an inn, a marina and an equestrian center. The project is under review with the state Adirondack Park Agency, and as part of that review process was studied in an adjudicatory hearing.
The 19-day hearing was spread out over three months, broken up into blocks based on groups of issues.
Parties will submit closing briefs by Friday, then responses will be due about a month later. After that, the APA board will have 90 days to review the project and make a decision.
"Finally and formally" make a statement of support to the APA in favor of the project and the potential it could have for Tupper Lake.
The village has abundant capacity, for the forseeable future, to provide services to the mountain and any new homes or businesses added to the village in the future.
A thriving village business district, which doesn't exist now, is necessary for the success of the ACR, and vice versa.
The ACR will pay an impact fee, a term Wright said they can't use, of 50 cents per $1,000 in home sales.
"They agree with you," Wright told the board.
The Big Tupper Ski Area is an important part of the community, and if upgrades are done as soon as the project gets started, the ski slope would need to be closed to skiing. ACR developers have repeatedly agreed to set aside money for improvements to the ski slope, a percentage of the revenue from the sale of eight large "great camp" lots and 16 small great camp lots.
"I still believe that you have it in your hearts and your minds to do what is needed and what is right for the Tupper Lake community, and what is in the best interest for our future," Wright said. "I ask you to reflect upon it and think about Tupper Lake's future and not any individual differences that we've had along the way. It's far too important."
Wright used to be the village's attorney until he resigned recently, and he still does some legal work for the village. Plus, he's also president of the Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce and sits on several other local boards. But he said he was speaking at the meeting as a regular citizen.
Village board members didn't address Wright's speech during the meeting, but afterward they told the Enterprise that there was nothing Wright said that they didn't agree with. They said those are the things they want ACR developers to agree to in a written contract with them, but they haven't been able to get them to do so yet.
Village Mayor Mickey Desmarais had threatened earlier this summer to submit a brief that wasn't supportive of the project if developers didn't give written agreement that they would dedicate money to overhauling the ski area, but board members said Monday night that they had directed their attorney to write a brief that was entirely positive.
The closing briefs in the hearing are due Friday. Village Clerk Mary Casagrain told the village board that Sal Ferlazzo, their attorney on the matter who is based in Albany, will have a draft of the village's closing brief to them by today.
Board members said they wanted to get a copy of it to review, then hold a special meeting for later in the week to revise and approve the brief.