Court Sides With Developers And Rejects Environmentalists’ Challenge To Adirondack Resort

Respondents are developers who proposed building a resort in the Town of Tupper Lake, Franklin County. The final proposal, which was approved by the Adirondack Park Agency (“ADA”), would span 6,235 acres and include 659 residential units, a 60–bedroom inn, a downhill ski area, a marina, a valet boat launching service, and assorted recreational amenities, to be serviced by the construction of over 15 miles of public and private roads, wastewater treatment systems and various maintenance facilities. Shortly thereafter, a variety of environmental groups brought an Article 78 proceeding to challenge the ADA’s final order and issuance of 14 permits for different aspects of the project. When the Supreme Court denied the motion to conduct discovery, the petitioners appealed to the Appellate Division.

Regarding the petitioner’s substantive claims, the standard of review requires only “relevant proof that a reasonable mind would accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Here, the Court found this standard to be met regarding each of the petitioners’ claims. First, the Court found the decision to allow withdrawals from Cranberry Pond on a limited basis sound due to the APA’s findings that using Tupper Lake would be prohibitively expensive, making Cranberry Pond the only viable option. Second, the Court ruled that not requiring a wildlife survey was reasonable given that there is no evidence that any protected species lived in the area. Next the court dismissed claims regarding harm to the local economy, such as on commercial timber harvesting or the state-owned boat launch at Tupper Lake. These claims were also dismissed, noting that the APA found the economic benefits of the project far outweighed any limited harms it may cause to existing business. Finally, the court ruled that even if the developers were forced to default on the municipal bonds approved, the risk to the local municipalities would be limited. (The court also dismissed various procedural claims not warranting discussion.)

The case was Protection of the Adirondacks! Inc. v Adirondack Park Agency, 990 N.Y.S. 2d 643 (A.D. 3 Dept. 2014). The decision can be accessed here:

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