Setback for Belleayre Resort
State Supreme Court rules Shandaken Planning Board exceeded authority in approving portion of the project
KINGSTON >> A state Supreme Court justice has dealt a blow to the proposed Belleayre Resort, saying the Shandaken Planning Board exceeded its authority in granting approvals for a standalone lodge and duplexes that are part of the project.
In a ruling dated Oct. 6, Supreme Court Justice Richard Mott upheld the Planning Board’s finding that conference centers and community meeting rooms pro-
posed as part of the resort are accessory uses to the main hotel, but said the board erred in determining the same for a lodge that would contain 27 timeshare units, and eight other duplex buildings.
Mott said that because those buildings do not “fit the definition of a hotel or motel, granting approval for those facilities “calls for an interpretation of the zoning code that is beyond the Planning
As a result, Mott ruled the approvals granted for that portion of the project invalid and ordered the Planning Board to seek a determination from the Zoning Board of Appeals as to whether those uses are permitted under the town’s zoning law.
The ruling is another setback for Crossroad Ventures, which has been trying for the better part of two decades to develop a luxury resort straddling the Ulster and Delaware county border near the state-owned Belleayre Mountain Ski Center
In January, the planning boards in the towns of Shandaken and Middletown granted final approvals to the project, but construction was delayed when the Catskill Heritage Alliance filed lawsuits challenging the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s environmental review of the project and the Shandaken Planning Board’s approval of the project.
Kathy Nolan, chairman of the Catskill Heritage Alliance, said Saturday that the group was pleased the judge sided with the group over the
lodge and duplex buildings.
“That’s one of the elements of the project that we always found problematic,” said Nolan.
Nolan said the group believes that a “fair reading” of the zoning law will conclude that “the zoning code simply doesn’t permit this and that would mean Crossroads would have to redesign (the) project or obtain a variance.”
She also said the group is considering whether to appeal Mott’s decision allowing the approvals for the conference center and community centers to stand.
Neither Gary Gailes,
the spokesman for Crossroad Ventures, nor Shandaken Planning Board Chairman Don Brewer could be reached for comment Saturday. The proposed resort project — arguably one of the most studied projects in the region’s history — has been revised a number of times since it was first proposed in 2000. As it currently stands, the anticipated $365 million development would be located on 740 acres and comprise the Highmount Spa and Resort and the Wildacres Resort.
Wildacres, on about 250 acres, would have a 250room
hotel, 163 other lodging units in multi-unit buildings detached from the hotel and an 18-hole golf course. The Highmount portion of the project, on just under 240 acres, would have a 120-unit hotel with spa facilities, 53 time share units in the hotel building, a multilevel lodge with 27 more time share units and 16 detached lodging units in eight duplex buildings.
A lawsuit challenging the environmental review of the proposed project is still pending. Nolan said oral arguments in that lawsuit were held a few weeks ago.
This is an artist’s rendering of the Wildacres Resort at the proposed Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park.