APA writes draft permit for Tupper resort

The Adirondack Club and Resort would be built on forested lands near the Big Tupper Ski Area. Photo by Carl Heilman II.
The Adirondack Club and Resort would be built on forested lands near the Big Tupper Ski Area. Photo by Carl Heilman II.

After six years of public debate, the Adirondack Park Agency’s staff has written a draft permit for the Adirondack Club and Resort in Tupper Lake, finding that the resort would comply with the law if it meets all the conditions of the permit.

The APA board, which is scheduled to vote next Friday, could approve the draft permit, approve it with modifications, or reject it. Among other things, the board must decide whether the project will cause an “undue adverse environmental impact.”

Two environmental activists disagree on whether the project as described in the permit passes the test.

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 David Gibson of Adirondack Wild contends that the board should reject the permit. Most of the Great Camps will be built on lands classified as Resource Management, where typical uses are forestry, agriculture, and recreation. Residential development is allowed only “on substantial acreages or in small clusters.” Gibson said many of the Great Camps will be built on fifteen- or twenty-acre lots. “It doesn’t meet the criterion for Resource Management,” Gibson said. “Most of the Adirondack Club and Resort could not be defined as being on substantial acreage or in small clusters.”

Gibson also said the developers failed to conduct a thorough study of wildlife on the property. Houseal, however, pointed out that the draft permit now requires the developers to undertake an amphibian study.

Adirondack Wild wants adjudicatory hearings reopened to address wildlife impacts and other issues, but Houseal disagrees.

“It’s time to have a decision here,” Houseal said. “I appreciate Adirondack Wild’s motion to put it back in the hearing, but we need to have a decision.”

Preserve Associates wants to build a 719-unit resort—a mixture of single- and multi-family homes—on some 6,200 acres near the Big Tupper Ski Area. It would be the largest development ever approved by the APA.

Despite writing a draft permit, the APA staff did not make a recommendation to approve or reject the project. APA spokesman Keith McKeever said this was due partly to the complexity of the project. “It’s up to the board to make a decision,” he said.

If the developers win the APA’s go-ahead, they will still need to obtain water-quality permits from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and financing approvals from the Franklin County Industrial Development Agency. Houseal argues that one lesson of the drawn-out process is that permits for future projects should be considered together, not separately.

Click here to download the draft permit and conditions.

About Phil Brown

Phil Brown edited the Adirondack Explorer from 1999 until his retirement in 2018. He continues to explore the park and to write for the publication and website.

Reader Interactions


  1. Paul says


    Every sigle organized environmental group in the park has said that tourism is the key to the regions economy. How can that be if you don’t allow ANY new resort development? Are you saying none???

  2. Lu and Lo says

    If you speak to most Tupper Lake residents (at least the ones I have spoken to) they are in favor of this resort because of the economic impact. As Phil has written about in the past, the economic stimulation around the ADK park and through Keene Valley is vital to the residents survival (see the rebuild of Rt 73 and Cuomo’s reaction). Tupper Lake residents NEED some attention brought to their beautiful town in order to help generations to come.

  3. Bob says

    Abolish the APA! What was accomplished here? No one is really happy. The developer spends millions to “win” approval. The APA staff, these days, seems tasked with helping people get their permit at all costs. There is no reall environmental protection in place. In this permit, the staff, and of course the commisioners have ignored some really great testimony during the adjudicatory hearing. They have not even put any meaningful conditions in place, except about amphibians, for some reason. Whats the point? From any perspective what is the purpose of this exercise? The developers get his permit, but he had to pay millions in legal fees. The staff at the APA hands some crib notes to commisioners who essentially ignored the record and judged via their life experiences, so all the ajudicatory testimony was for nothing, unless you are an amphibian. It was wasteful, useless and pointless on all accounts! Abolish the APA! It provides very little environemental protection and just costs a developer money to fill out paperwork. The APA is a lose, lose situation. It stymies development, yet does not protect the environment. It is the prime example of wasteful and pointless Gov’t! Pork!

  4. Geordin says

    The argument is not whether this should be built. Most people agree that it should. The real argument is whether it is ready to be built. If we let large developers skirk the rules one time, we open the way for them to do it again and again and again. An extreme example is if we let the developers poison the water, but a lot of the concerns are less obvious than that and yes, they do affect real people. On the otherhand, how stringent do we need are rules to be? The APA slows and hinders development, but it does help create a fairer sharing of the land. These regulations that are annoying may be obnoxious but think of why they were created. People actually violate the common ground rights these things are made to protect.

    So if you don’t like the APA; run for office. Maybe you can do it better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *