Morning Read: At crunch time, environmentalists divided on Big Tupper

On Friday, the Adirondack Park Agency will — after seven years of deliberations — give the yay or nay to the massive Adirondack Club and Resort project proposed for Tupper Lake.  (You can find the draft permit documents here.)

In these final days before the vote, the Park’s leading green advocates are on very different pages about the project, with Adirondack Council chief Brian Houseal calling the resort’s final design “a win for the environmental community.”

He was interviewed by Adirondack Explorer magazine’s Phil Brown:

Brian Houseal, executive director of the Adirondack Council, said he is happy with the changes required by the draft permit. “The developer has designed the project within the existing regulations,” he said.

Houseal said he is especially pleased that no further subdivision will be allowed on the land occupied by the so-called Great Camps. As a result, he said, the fragmentation of wildlife habitat will be limited.

“The changes imposed by the APA will probably avoid undue adverse environmental impact,” Houseal said. “Is that a win for the environmental community? Yes.”

But other green groups remain fiercely opposed to the project and this morning Adirondack Wild co-founders Dan Plumley and Dave Gibson scored a coup by placing an op-ed piece in the New York Times.

The Adirondack Club and Resort sets a glaringly low standard, and the A.P.A. should deny it. Only then might we see an alternative that actually makes sense for the park’s environment and marketplace and that concentrates redevelopment where it was intended — around Big Tupper Ski Area.

Will Governor Cuomo, like his father and Nelson Rockefeller, insist that the A.P.A. abide by its law? Or will he risk damaging a park beloved by millions and globally regarded as a model for sustaining people and wild nature?

Green groups have also been divided over the likelihood of a lawsuit if the project is approved.  The Adirondack Council has downplayed the idea, but other organizations have suggested that it remains an option if Big Tupper goes forward.

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14 Responses to “Morning Read: At crunch time, environmentalists divided on Big Tupper”

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  1. Kool Cal says:

    Well if approved the standard will be set low. Not a green development. Really though, can you deny the permit? Reform the APA, after this. Lets have some reall criteria for the permit process.

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  2. Pete Klein says:

    Approve it. Move on. How much has been neglected because of investigating the project for 7 years? The APA has better things to do. And please, no law suits – the last gasp of the mentally retarded.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  3. Paul says:

    “Will Governor Cuomo, like his father and Nelson Rockefeller, insist that the A.P.A. abide by its law? Or will he risk damaging a park beloved by millions and globally regarded as a model for sustaining people and wild nature?”

    It appears that almost everyone save Dave and Dan seem to think that this project (no matter how much someone might hate the idea) conforms to the laws that are in place now.

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  4. Vince Moore says:

    As a former APA Executive Director (1976-1981) I’m with Dan Plumley and Dave Gibson. I think the NYT said it right and I hope Governor Andrew Coumo is a better advocate for the region than some of his predecessors.

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  5. Paul says:

    Vince, since the laws have changed very little since you were running things do you think that the laws have not been followed with this particular review? That seems to be what Dan and Dave are suggesting.

    I agree that I hope the governor is a better advocate than some. So far it seems that this Governor Cuomo is doing a fairly good job in his advocacy for the region. But he has a very long way to go.

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  6. Paul says:

    This is one of their favorite quotes that they put in the Times article:

    “Dr. Michael Klemens, testified at the public hearing last April that “the club and resort is classic sprawl on steroids.”

    Of course this isn’t really accurate but when the chips are on the table you do what ever you have to do to win an argument. In this case throw in an inaccurate statement and make it look like it came from an expert on “sprawl”. I can’t remember where Dr. Klemens is from but this doesn’t even count as sprawl by most definitions.

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  7. Bob Cat says:

    Paul, Dr Klemons , I believe lives in CT but has worked and done research in NY. I don’t see his statement as incorrrect and it certainly is not fraudulent as you seem to be implying. Mr Foxman has implied classic development styles with little clustering and long extensive roads and driveways to the great camps. I don’t see how Dr Klemons analogy is incorrect?

    Also look at the testimony of Drs Glennon and Kretzer who are certainly locals and at the cutting edge of their field. It is clearly not the best possible development. The science and planning for developments has come along way. Mr Foxman has ignored them. Unfortunately the APA act, perhaps according to some lawyers, relies on antiquated regulations. Is the ambigious phrasing “undo and adverse” enough to halt this project? I think he deserves his permit, I just wish it was designed better to minimise impacts.

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  8. Snowflake says:

    Not everyone wants to live in a clustered development. Some people like to not see their neighbors or hear the cars on the highway. Others can’t stand to be so remote and would never think of living on a 20 acre wood lot. I think that there is something here for everyone who might want a first or second home in the ADKs. Now the pricing of these lots is another story.

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  9. Paul says:

    “I just wish it was designed better to minimise impacts.”

    Bob Cat, I totally agree. I was just saying that to call this “sprawl on steroids” is just not accurate. There is a big space between “minimize impacts” and “sprawl on steroids” . These lots just don’t fit that description. Some are downright “huge” compared to other approved single-family-dwelling lots that have been approved on RM lands. This is 11th hour desperation.

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  10. Paul says:

    “Mr Foxman has implied classic development styles with little clustering”

    I think he has proposed both. Perfect? No. Legal? Yes.

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  11. scratchy says:

    interesting that this oped was published in the NYT and not at a local paper. they also think cuomo should pressure the commissioners into making the decision the editors want instead of letting the commissioners exercise indepenent judgment like they are supposed to.

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  12. Paul says:

    scratchy, they have to go where they have support.

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  13. Will Doolittle says:

    The fascinating thing about that op-ed is the authors argue, No. 1, this development will scatter homes through thousands of acres of forested land, which will be very bad; and, No. 2, the developers won’t be able to build and sell all the homes they say they will, which will be very bad.

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  14. Walker says:

    You’re right, Will, it sounds inconsistent.

    But it’s pretty clear that the big money is in the “Great Camp” lots, which are the most scattered and have the largest amount of infrastructure per residence. So if all they do is build and sell the Great Camps, then it really will be sprawl.

    It will also be bad for Tupper Lake, which is looking for the real boost in business that only the selling of a large number of units will provide. They’ll be stuck maintaining a whole lot of infrastructure with very little to show for it.

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