State Supreme Court says Belleayre Resort environmental report is OK

The New York State Supreme Court in Albany has ruled against Catskill Heritage Alliance (CHA) and several associates, including members of the Gould family, in a lawsuit charging that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) did not sufficiently scrutinize the proposed Belleayre Resort project before giving state approval. CHA had sought a hearing to adjudicate aspects of the project they claimed DEC had failed to consider adequately before issuing the permits.

The resort project, slated to be built on the side of Belleayre Mountain in western Ulster County and eastern Delaware County, includes two hotels, an 18-hole golf course, a spa, a conference center, and multiple lodges and duplexes. Crossroads Ventures, the developer, has been pursuing the controversial project for over 15 years.

CHA chair Kathy Nolan stated, “While an adverse decision is obviously disappointing, the Catskill Heritage Alliance stands by its assertion that it was legally necessary for a professional, independent Administrative Law Judge to review Crossroads Ventures’ proposed project before the DEC could properly rule on permitting it.”


Among its rulings, the decision accepts Crossroads’ environmental study claiming that a smaller-scale project with one hotel would have only a slightly lower environmental impact than the configuration currently under consideration, while the project would not be financially viable if scaled back.

“In fact, the opposite is true,” wrote Nolan in a prepared statement, “as demonstrated by credible, independent economic analysis, conducted by professional consultants, that CHA commissioned and submitted to DEC. The lower-build alternative is more likely to succeed economically, while the full build-out, two-hotel version of the project with a total of 629 rooms is so oversized and so massively out of scale with its surroundings that it is likely to fail economically and harm other local businesses and the local economy. The economic viability or non-viability of the project doesn’t really matter to Crossroads, since it does not plan to run the Belleayre Resort, but instead to ‘flip’ the project by selling the permits it obtains at a profit to another developer. The larger the project, the more it can charge for the permits.”

Crossroads spokesman Gary Gailes said Nolan was using “pejorative language” to represent a forthcoming step in the project, that of soliciting financing from a number of sources to fund the construction. He said the legal challenges are delaying the funding solicitation process. In another lawsuit brought by CHA, the court ruled that the Shandaken planning board had acted improperly in issuing a special use permit regarding multi-unit dwellings on the property. The issue has been referred to the Shandaken zoning board for an interpretation of town zoning code and will be addressed at the December 21 zoning board meeting.

Gailes said another obstacle to obtaining financing for the resort is New York State’s failure to act on recommendations for appropriating $74 million to make improvements to the state-owned Belleayre Ski Center. “No one wants to put money into a resort situated next to a failing ski center,” he remarked. “It has been starved for cash, with outdated lifts and not enough facilities to accommodate a rising level of attendance. The state needs to do its part if it wants to develop Belleayre as an economic driver to bring prosperity to the region.”

Once the legislature approves funding for improvements, and Crossroads’ legal entanglements are resolved, said Gailes, “There are entities prepared to fund a project of this nature.”

There are 2 comments

  1. Dave Channon

    It is absurd to think that a small group of concerned residents could stop a massive project like the proposed Belleayre Resort if billionaire corporations were actually backing it. The true reason why 17 years have gone by without the proposed resort is because it is a huge financial risk with little prospect for profit. No corporations have shown any interest in coughing up half a Billion Bucks on Dean Gitter’s folly. Belleayre Ski Center has already lost out on 5 million state dollars that were budgeted and scheduled for upgrades because of its fatal entanglement with Crossroads. Not the way Gailes sees it: if taxpayers spend $74 million more, then their project might look more promising to Marriott or Ramada or whatever giant corporation Crossroads plans to sell their permits to. Do NY State residents really want to spend 15 times more tax dollars so Crossroads can turn a profit? The realistic plan is to maintain and upgrade Belleayre sensibly, perhaps adding a new hotel with 100 rooms. Airbnb has already added over 1,000 vacation rental units in the region with little environmental impact. Airbnb is in the time honored tradition of small inns and boarding houses that are the true heritage of Catskill vacation getaways. And Airbnb rental income goes directly into the local resident’s economy, instead of going into corporate offshore bank accounts. NYS and NYC have given permission because they are sick and tired of spending YOUR tax dollars on reviewing something that will never happen anyway. A whole generation of Catskill families have lived with this Crossroads nightmare fantasy. It’s time to wake up.

  2. Matt Frisch

    So it’s taxpayers’ duty to give $74 million to Belleayre for ‘improvements’ which the proposed resort could dangle in front of potenyial developers? Gailes knows but is not saying that #1 the entire Hunter operation sold last year for $37 million and #2 Belleayre is not starved for funding! Just built a huge new and much needed rental building at significant cost. With the new management, hopefully they can keep the lifts running. Now all they need is some natural snow and that’s something no amount of money can bring.

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