The granting of permits to the Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park moved a little closer to happening last week after some 19 years of haggling. But it will still be months before a final decision can be reached, as another legal proceeding remains pending before the state appellate court.
On April 12, the state Supreme Court Appellate Division’s Third Judicial Department upheld a lower court ruling from December, 2016 that decided permits issued for the project by the state Department of Environmental Conservation were valid, despite the argument by the Catskill Heritage Alliance (CHA) and several neighbors of the proposed resort that a formal answer to adjudication items raised over a decade ago had never occurred.
The CHA and its lawsuit partners argued that the DEC’s final decision to grant permits had been based on a less rigorous process than the project warranted, never mind an executive branch negotiation process that resulted in a 2007 Agreement in Principal signed by then-governor Eliot Spitzer.
The $365 million resort is proposed to be built adjacent to the state-owned Belleayre Mountain Ski Center in Highmount, which is also in the midst of a multi-year updating and expansion.
The same appellate court must now hear an appeal by the same parties of an Article 78 ruling involving Shandaken Planning Board approvals and permits for the project.
“This decision does not have any bearing on the Alliance’s appeal in regard to planning and zoning issues raised in regard to the proposed resort, which is being heard separately at the same appellate court. A decision on the planning and zoning appeal is expected in the coming months,” said CHA chair Kathy Nolan, who also serves as an Ulster County legislator for Shandaken, this week.
As for the April 11 appellate court decision, Nolan added, “The Alliance will be considering its remaining legal options.”
Representatives for Crossroads Ventures, developers of the Belleayre Resort proposal, said last November that they had hired HVS Global Hospitality Services, an international consulting and banking firm, to pursue a joint venture partner to develop and build the planned resort, and were already getting “quite a bit of interest” while still putting together offering materials that couldn’t be officially released until all legal obstacles had been cleared.
On April 17, the company’s CEO, Ken Pasternak, reiterated that Crossroads’ final push on the Belleayre Resort project was still awaiting completion of all legal challenges, which he characterized as being nothing but a stalling tactic on project opponents’ parts.
“We’re in a pre-marketing phase. Frankly, we’re in a very good position,” he said, noting how investments in the ski industry have been at a high point this winter. “Interest is very high.”