Jim LaValley, at podium, and Douglas Wright, left, are residents of Tupper Lake who support the development of a 6,000-acre resort in their town, which is in the Adirondack Park. LaValley called an environmental group lawsuit against the resort “frivolous” and said it will cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Wright, an attorney, said state agencies should consider the economic benefits the resort could bring to the area. Photo by Adam Shanks.
June 18, 2012Residents of the Tupper Lake community in the Adirondack Park argue that an environmental group lawsuit against development of a large resort is "frivolous" and is meant to stifle business in the area.
"After eight years of review, we feel that this suit is a calculated and mean-spirited move," said Jim LaValley of the Tupper Lake Business Community. He said the lawsuit would cost New York taxpayers millions of dollars because the government is being forced to defend one of its agencies.
Environmental advocacy groups Protect the Adirondacks and Sierra Club sued the Adirondack Park Agency and Department of Environmental Conservation over the Park Agency board's 10-1 decision to allow the construction of a resort in the town of Tupper Lake, Franklin County. The resort planned to have a 60-bedroom inn, a ski area, a marina, a sewage treatment plant and other attractions such as an equestrian center and amphitheater. The resort is the largest approved project in the Park Agency's history and would encompass more than 6,000 acres of private land with more than 600 buildings on site.
The plaintiffs argue an environmental review was not conducted properly before development was approved and the Park Agency did not provide opportunity for public comment.
"Please don't look at us as anti-environment," LaValley said. "Nothing is further from the truth."
Mark Moeller, chairman of Tupper Lake Business Community, backed up LaValley's argument that the resort will not damage its surrounding environment. "We are not against the APA. The APA is not our adversary," he said. "Fast forward from the 1920s and most of us would agree that the environment has fared well."
Moeller said previous attempts to stimulate the Tupper Lake economy have been halted because of environmental groups, such as a plan to build two prisons in the area.
Douglas Wright, a Tupper Lake attorney, said the Park Agency should conduct an economic review on the proposed resort, in addition to the environmental review, to study the plan's potential benefits to residents.
The attorney argued the environmental advocates do not have a stake in Tupper Lake's economy. "They're raising money and not just for the local benefit, but for others as well."
Additionally, LaValley said the property owners in Tupper Lake who oppose the resort's construction are not yearlong residents.
Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, and Assemblywoman Janet L. Duprey, R-Peru, who represent Tupper Lake, support the development of the resort.
"We all rejoiced in the decision made by the APA," Little said, regarding the resort's approval. "I'm confident that it will happen."