2016-10-05 / Front Page

Judge rules on Belleayre Resort

Friends and foes find good news
Joan Lawrence-Bauer

A State Supreme Court Ruling issued by Judge Richard Mott last Thursday provided good news for developers of the Belleayre Resort, even as it gave opponents one more opportunity to try to stop the long-delayed project. In a narrow ruling, Mott agreed with Kathy Nolan and the Catskill Heritage Alliance (CHA) that the Shandaken Zoning Board has not yet determined “whether the proposed lodges and duplexes are permitted under the Shandaken zoning code,” but added that Nolan’s “remaining contentions have been rendered academic by this determination or otherwise lack merit.”

In rendering his decision, Mott ordered the Shandaken Planning Board to seek a Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) determination and directed the planning board to rule on the matter within 30 days of getting the opinion.

Crossroads Ventures spokesman Gary Gailes said in a prepared statement, that the development team, “is quite pleased with the decision rendered by Judge Mott.  In his decision, the court rejected nearly all of the claims that CHA made.” 

In her own prepared statement, Nolan acknowledged that the court, “didn’t agree with all our contentions,” adding that it “did agree with our complaint that the Shandaken Planning Board acted beyond its authority in granting a Special Use Permit to Crossroads for some buildings in the proposed resort.” 

The ruling delivered by Mott applies only to “the lodges or duplex habitational structures,” which Mott says are undefined in town code. While Mott does not say the structures are not permitted, he does say the planning board should have asked the ZBA for an interpretation of zoning code before issuing permits.

If the ZBA now rules that the lodges and duplexes are accessory to the rest of the proposed project, the planning board would be within its authority to issue the permits.  If the ZBA rules they are not accessory, and defines them in some other way, Crossroads might then be asked to seek variances which in earlier local determinations, were not considered necessary. 

Mott found that Shandaken’s zoning code does not require its planning board to “address each structure’s compliance with zoning requirements in order to approve a site plan,” and said Nolan’s challenge to hotel/motel development was “unavailing.” He also said, “There is no indication that the board failed to take into strict account their “clearly accessory” nature and its findings are entitled to deference.” 

In striking down the broader claims of the CHA, Mott went on to say, “The board’s approval is premised on parcel consolidation, thereby addressing petitioner’s (CHA) initial objection to their definition as accessory structures.  These non-habitational structures also fall within the clear definition of accessory uses such as meeting rooms and recreational centers, without resort to further interpretation.”

Mott’s ruling in the action, an “Article 78” filed against both Crossroads Ventures and the Town of Shandaken Planning Board has raised hopes for project developers that the end if its epic approval process could arrive before the end of the year.  The plans, first announced in 1999, have been discussed and reviewed for 17 years, a time span.  (See related story.)  Oral arguments in another Article 78 action brought by CHA against the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation have been heard and a decision is expected before the end of November. 



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