NYS DEC plans to complete resort review by end of summer
By Jay Braman Jr.
When it comes to the massive review of the $400 million Belleayre Resort proposed by Crossroads Ventures LLC, many deadlines have come and gone over the past 14 years.
But this time, it appears the end may be near.
According to Crossroads, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will complete their review of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement at the end of summer.
That is several months later than the project's promoters had hoped for, but as they say, better late than never.
“Yes, we understand that DEC staff expects to complete their review of both the resort’s supplemental environmental impact statement and the Unit Management Plan for the Belleayre Ski Center by August of 2014,” said Crossroads spokesman Gary Gailes on Monday.
Anticipated earlier date
In anticipation of a spring 2014 decision by DEC, Crossroads Ventures appeared before the planning boards of Shandaken and Middletown last November to give presentations of the project. At the time, planners were told they could begin their reviews of the project immediately, but that they could not take any official actions on it until the state had completed its review and declared that environmental impact statement final, and approved.
In comparison to what has been happening at the state level, the town level review of the plans, plus the issuing of the needed permits to begin construction, is expected to move quickly.
Those boards were given copies of the 7,000-page tome seven months ago, the idea being that they would have the entire winter to look it over and be prepared to discuss it once the snows thawed.
Shandaken is ready
In Shandaken, they are ready to go.
“Next month we’re going to begin review of this project,” said Planning Board Chairman Don Brewer at the board’s June meeting.
The board has already enlisted a professional consultant, Chazen Companies of Poughkeepsie, and they have asked the town board to agree to the hiring of Attorney Richard Olson, a partner in the Poughkeepsie based firm of McCabe and Mack LLP, to act as the planning board’s legal advisor. Both companies will be paid not by the town but by the developers, who will set up an escrow account for those services.
Chazen representatives are expected to attend the July meeting of the planning board to talk over the larger issues that the planning board should be concerned about, Brewer said.
“Look over the material you have and if you have any questions….we’ll begin to ask them, so make a list,” Brewer told his colleagues.
As for what is happening with the Middletown Planning Board, well, that is harder to ascertain. Middletown Planning Board Chair Suzanne Finch, reached while on vacation in Florida, said little about her board’s efforts.
“Currently, action on Crossroads Ventures is tabled,” she said. “The planning board is waiting for DEC to complete their review.”
Also, those hoping for a lightening fast construction phase for the resort had better think again, because Crossroads is prevented from disturbing more than five acres at a time, the full build out of the 739 acre resort will take up to eight years.
The resort, a $400 million project, will surround the existing New York State owned Belleayre Mountain Ski Center. Information supplied by Crossroads Ventures states that of that total amount of land, 218 acres would be developed. The overall resort centers around two distinct hotels; Wildacres Resort with an-18 hole championship golf course designed by Davis Love III and Highmount Spa Resort both with an extensive program designed to give visitors access to the many specialized outdoor experiences unique to the Catskill Region.