LAKE PLACID — A state Supreme Court judge in Essex County dismissed Thomas and Renee West’s lawsuit against the Lake Placid-North Elba Joint Review Board in a decision issued Friday.
The Wests, who own property adjacent to the proposed Adirondack Museum site, argued that the Joint Review Board had acted improperly in approving the plan to construct a museum building with a 64-foot tower on Main Street. The Wests claimed that the JRB “disregarded or improperly construed portions ... of the zoning regulations” and that their view would be illegally altered by a structure that is architecturally incompatible with Lake Placid.
Dawson dismissed these claims and wrote that the JRB had met its “responsibility to weigh the evidence and resolve any conflicts during the permit application process.” Dawson found that the museum proposal met all of the regulatory requirements of the JRB and that the JRB had a “rational basis” to determine the museum design is compatible with “a long architectural tradition in the area.”
However, there are other obstacles preventing the Adirondack Museum from breaking ground on construction. Two things must first happen, according to James Brooks, the attorney representing the Adirondack Museum.
“We need to wait for a decision on whether the Wests will appeal —we won’t know that for about 40 to 60 days,” Brooks said. The Wests also sued the Adirondack Park Agency, the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Adirondack Museum, and that case is still pending.
The museum has other challenges beyond regulatory issues, Thomas West said. The museum proposal has funding shortfalls, having only raised about $2 million toward an estimated $8 million needed to complete the project, according to West.
“They are proposing an edifice that they do not have funding for,” West said. “It is unfortunate that they did not propose something more modest and in keeping with the area.” In this respect, “they are their own worst enemy,” he said.
“We respect his (Dawson’s) analysis, but there are very clear errors of law,” West said, adding that the JRB’s own decision stated that the Adirondack Museum plan did not meet aesthetic requirements.
“The JRB has a responsibility to enforce its own requirements,” West said. “We are likely to appeal the court’s ruling.”
While the timeline for construction of the new museum and the form it will take still hang on several considerations, North Elba town supervisor Roby Politi said an appellate court probably won’t reverse Judge Dawson’s dismissal of the Wests’ case. The appellate court would have to find an error in the judge’s decision in order to overturn it, which is unlikely, Politi said.
“I am pleased with the results for the community and that the Joint Review Board did their job,” Politi said, “Hopefully, the museum will move forward soon.”
Contact George Earl at 891-2600, ext. 25 or gearl@