Ski slope developer plans to pull plug on project

COPAKE—The Berkshire Mountain Club, the $80-million, four-season resort project proposed for the base of the Catamount Ski Area will not go forward.

Plans for the project included three buildings with 153 hotel and time-share residential units, a spa, swimming pool, restaurant and retail space to be completed in three phases over 10 years. But developer Harry Freeman with Rock Solid Development, LLC, told The Columbia Paper Tuesday, November 24 that the legal challenges by project opponents have already caused the project to lose three construction seasons, a situation that now makes the project “untenable.”

And it appears that the lawsuits are not finished.

Last month an Albany County state Supreme Court justice rejected challenges to the project from Gert and Cynthia Alper, owners of the Swiss Hutte Inn and Restaurant adjacent to the Catamount Ski Area. The justice called the Alpers’ issues “baseless” and “untimely.” But Mr. Freeman said Tuczinski, Cavalier & Gilchrist, P.C., the Albany law firm representing couple, has notified the parties that the firm’s clients plan to appeal the decisions.

The lawsuits sought to overturn the project approvals granted by the town’s Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals.

The Alpers oppose the resort construction because they believe construction vehicle traffic associated with the project. will hurt their business.

Mr. Freeman said the Town of Copake and its residents have so far lost $1.5 million in tax revenues, not to mention jobs associated with the project.

He said though three courts have already ruled in favor of the project and residential units have been marketed based on when the project will break ground. But in light of the threat of new appeals, that date keeps moving to an unknown future time, leaving the project in limbo. He said more than 1,100 people had expressed interest in purchasing a time share unit.

Mr. Freeman said he still believes the project would have been great for the town and he finds it painful to have to deliver such disappointing news to residents who have been so supportive.

A call to Attorney Daniel J. Tuczinski was not returned by press deadline.

An earlier larger project proposal at the same site by a different developer several years earlier failed to materialize because of a downturn in the economy.

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