TUPPER LAKE — Business and local leaders spoke out Friday in response to litigation aimed at staunching development of the Adirondack Club and Resort.
A lawsuit filed earlier this week claims the Adirondack Park Agency violated APA Act rules in granting permits for the project.
A joint statement from town officials, Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving their Economy (ARISE) and the Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce slammed preservation groups — Protect the Adirondacks and the Sierra Club — the attorneys and three landowners who brought the case.
"The people involved represent the radical side of the environmental movement. Former APA Director Robert Glennon should be ashamed of himself for participating in a frivolous suit," Tupper Lake Mayor Paul Maroun said in the statement.
ARISE Chairman Jim LaValley said the lawsuit shows "arrogance."
"This has nothing to do with environmental protection and everything to do with them raising money. They also hope to kill the project and the future hopes for Tupper Lake by creating further delays and running the investors costs up higher." &subhead;'DOES NOT COMPLY'
Protect attorney John Caffry, who wrote the 29-item challenge, admitted Friday that they are trying to kill the project.
"We're challenging the approval of the project as it stands. Yes, we would like to kill it. This project does not comply with the APA Act. Some of the lawsuit is about the process, but the whole set of arguments about (use of) Resource Management Lands is about the merits. We've never hid that we were opposed to this project as it is currently proposed.
"We tried to negotiate with Mr. (Michael) Foxman, and it went nowhere. We tried to get him to modify the project, and all he removed were the 'crash panels,' things (aspects of development) that were going to be removed anyway."
Mark Moeller, a Tupper Lake businessman, said that, after eight years of review and a 10-1 vote by APA, the community is appalled.
"I would think the APA commissioners and staff are equally upset."
APA spokesman Keith McKeever said APA "stands behind our thorough and very rigorous review process."
McKeever said the attorney general will represent the APA in the suit, which also claims APA decision-makers discussed the permits with developers outside of the public forum.
McKeever said there is no basis whatsoever for allegations of "ex parte" communication.
The Article 78 will move directly to a court of appeals.
"With the rules of the courts, where you've already had an adjudicatory hearing," Caffrey said, "the law says those cases get transferred to the Appellate Division."
The matter will eventually go to the Third Division in Albany.
David Tomberlin is Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce president and a Tupper Lake town councilor.
"It is disappointing that these groups have filed, but it is even more upsetting that the landowners would join in. We feel they have the crossed the line of sour grapes and now are using every attempt to further damage the community."
Tomberlin said landowners Bob and Leslie Harrison and Phyllis Thompson, who brought the lawsuit, own second homes in Tupper Lake.
'HANGS IN THE BALANCE'
Community leaders also questioned the Sierra Club's involvement in litigation.
"At a time when the economy of the region has never been more fragile and when the governor (Andrew Cuomo) is calling for economic growth, why would the Sierra Club expose their credibility for such a frivolous and offensive legal action?" local attorney Doug Wright said in the joint statement.
"I question how versed they are on the topic, area and implications of the APA decision in the context of their procedure and regulations."
Roger Downs, conservation director of the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, issued a statement claiming "it is past the time for the APA to stop cutting corners with its existing laws and regulations and to act to protect New York's great wilderness legacy."
The Tupper Lake groups believe the stakes could not be greater.
"The economic future of the town hangs in the balance, along with hundreds of jobs," Tomberlin said.
"One of the injustices is that nobody making the appeal has any real skin in the game."
Email Kim Smith Dedam at: email@example.com