TUPPER LAKE - The Nature Conservancy won't appeal a decision that gives a right of way on its property to Adirondack Club and Resort developers.
But there's still no word on whether developers will face an appeal of last week's decision by the state Adirondack Park Agency awarding the project with a permit.
Right of way
"Our counsel advised us against appealing," said Mike Carr, executive director of the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. "They just thought it was in everyone's best interest to let Judge Main's decision stand."
Franklin County Judge Robert Main Jr. last November decided to uphold most of a 2010 decision from a jury of Tupper Lake residents that awarded Adirondack Club and Resort developers with a right of way across Nature Conservancy land.
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.
The project must now seek 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.
Main denied the part of the jury's ruling that would let developers run utilities across the right of way.
"We respect Judge Main's decision, but remain deeply concerned that the original jury decision to award a private taking of private property rights could have far-reaching implications for other landowners and properties in New York," Nature Conservancy spokeswoman Connie Prickett said in an email.
Representatives of both the groups that have hinted at a possible appeal of the APA's decision on the ACR are saying they haven't made a decision yet.
Both have argued that the APA didn't fulfill its responsibility to uphold the law when it awarded ACR developers with a permit to move forward with their resort.
"As an organization, we're just starting to talk about the implications of the agency's decision, and how they've set a low standard for the park, and what is the governor's response," said David Gibson, co-founder of Adirondack Wild.
His group has made clear it's unhappy with the APA's decision, but he said there's a number of things Adirondack Wild is looking into as a reaction to it. Those things include advocacy, education, and, yes, "legal (action) is on our mind as well," Gibson said.
He said it's premature to make a decision, but they're very aware of the deadline to file an Article 78 lawsuit to challenge the APA permit. It must be filed within 60 days of the decision - around mid March.
"The clock is ticking," Gibson said.
John Caffry, an attorney on the board of Protect the Adirondacks, said Protect hasn't yet decided what to do but is also reviewing its options.
He said his group hasn't set a timeline to make a decision, but "the most I can say is that if a decision is made, it will be made long enough before the 60 days expires to allow the pleadings to be prepared and filed in time."
(Editor's note: The deadline for an appeal of the APA decision has been corrected to within 60 days of the decision - around mid March - rather than 60 business days.)