Developer Dean Gitter, 81, is retiring from his position as Managing Member of Crossroads Ventures, the company he founded to carry out the proposed Belleayre Resort Project still making its way through an approval process that has lasted 13 years. Meanwhile, a judge has validated the propriety of the latest legal challenge by Catskill Heritage Alliance (CHA), an organization trying to block construction of the resort.
State Supreme Court Justice Richard Mott ruled June 21 that the Shandaken Planning Board may have “improperly issued a special permit in violation of zoning laws” when it determined that the 724-acre project is permissible without a variance. Lawyers for CHA, arguing against the legitimacy of the special permit, filed an Article 78 petition in February that challenged the planning board’s failure to refer Crossroads Ventures’ application to Shandaken’s Zoning Board of Appeals for one or more variances.
The Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park is planned for a site adjacent to Belleayre Ski Resort, straddling the border of Ulster and Delaware counties. The design includes a 250-bed hotel, a 120-room hotel, more than 250 fractional-ownership condos and an 18-hole golf course. Opponents allege that the project is harmful to the environment and will negatively alter the character of the community. Supporters cite the creation of jobs and stimulus to the local economy.
Last spring, New York State gave its approval to the proposal, a decision that CHA is also challenging in the courts, alleging that the state did not give sufficient consideration to possible environmental impacts.
Horses, folk songs, as Pasternak takes over
Gitter has reduced his role at Crossroads Ventures to “simply an ordinary member of the corporation.” He has lived for the past two years in northern New Mexico, where he takes care of his horses, is involved with community development, and has resumed his long-abandoned career as a folk musician, according to a press release. Gitter’s second CD, Carl Sandburg’s American Songbag 2.0, is being completed in a nearby studio with the Questa Folk Ensemble, made up of Gitter’s close neighbors. His first CD, Old Folkies Never Die, was launched in 2014 at the Emerson Inn, the luxury hotel he constructed on Route 28 in Mount Tremper.
Emily H. Fisher, a partner and co-founder of the Belleayre project, issued a statement praising Gitter for his dedication to the arduous planning process through years of facing legal battles and environmental issues. She added, “Dean feels it is time to hand the task of financing and building the Project over to Kenneth Pasternak, a founding partner of the enterprise and an experienced real estate developer.”
Pasternak, 62, has made millions in the financial industry and was formerly CEO of Knight Trading Group, which he co-founded. Since then, he has been involved in the formation of Chestnut Ridge Capital, a New Jersey-based hedge fund, and the KABR Group, which purchases and redevelops distressed commercial real estate. Pasternak grew up in the Delaware County town of Fleischmanns and now lives in New Jersey.