On February 12, the Catskill Heritage Alliance (CHA) filed a legal action against developer Crossroads Ventures and the Town of Shandaken Planning Board, alleging that the board improperly issued special use permits for the proposed Belleayre Resort project. CHA considers that the board should have waited for the resolution of an already existing CHA lawsuit against New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), charging that the state conducted an insufficient environmental review of the project.
In a process that began 15 years ago, Crossroads Ventures proposes building two hotels and a golf course on the side of Belleayre Mountain in western Ulster County and eastern Delaware County, adjacent to the Belleyare Ski Resort. Crossroads maintains that the resort will provide economic benefits to the region, while opponents predict environmental damage and an undesirable alteration to the character of local communities.
CHA asserts that the proposed construction of conference centers and multiple-family dwelling structures has been approved in districts where the town’s zoning law prohibits such uses. Kathy Nolan of CHA said the planning board should have referred the application to the Shandaken Zoning Board of Appeals to consider the legality of a use variance.
“The planning board considered the application based on the SEQR process conducted by New York State,” noted Nolan, but if the CHA wins the suit against the state, the SEQR findings will be invalidated, and Crossroads will have to submit a revised application.
“We preferred not to have to bring a suit that involves the town,” said Nolan. “If Crossroads had not pushed the planning boards to move rapidly, it could have been avoided. But the statute of limitations, once the town issues permits, is 30 days. If we didn’t take action now, and we lose the litigation with DEC,” CHA would have no recourse to question the planning board permits.
Gary Gailes, spokesperson for Crossroads, said, “This was not unexpected. It’s just another effort at delay. The lawsuit does not appear to have any merit. I’m assuming it will resolve in the next few months. Unfortunately this kind of delay is only delaying what the resort will hopefully bring in terms of economic benefit to the region. I’m confident it will be dismissed once it gets before a judge.”