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Developer defends Jay resort proposal

The public has submitted mostly negative feedback to the state Adirondack Park Agency about a proposed resort-style development on over 355 acres in the town of Jay, and the developer responded with a statement to the APA defending the project.

The APA released the response from Miami-based developer Eric Stackman on Friday, Dec. 10. Stackman’s preliminary plans for the Jay development were submitted to the APA for review as a large-scale residential subdivision on Oct. 19. The APA opened a public comment period for the development from Nov. 1 to Dec. 3. The final document of all of the public comments is almost 200 pages long, and most of those comments are opposed to the proposal.

Stackman is proposing the construction of 20 townhomes, 60 villas with an optional guest suite, 18 estates with an optional guest suite, and possibly six mansions or two hotels containing 17 rooms each. The development would also have “amenity” buildings, like a clubhouse. It’s one of the largest developments to come before the APA since 2012, when the agency reviewed a proposal from Pennsylvania-based investment group Preserve Associates for a housing development in Tupper Lake with about 700 units, plus a spa, marina and an equestrian center. The development ultimately did not come to fruition.

On Dec. 3, Stackman wrote a two-page letter to the APA “to give some general input on what (he sees) as main topics of comments delivered thus far.”

He said he wanted to “clear the air” on what he saw as misconceptions in the public comments about “proposing a large-scale development on public lands or clear cutting hundreds of acres, (and) bulldozing over fragile ecosystems in these pristine forests.”

Stackman wrote that he started buying the property in 2006, and that the privately-owned parcels are already approved as buildable lands.

“Landowner rights are very important to residents, and I am no exception; therefore, following the rules as to what is allowed to (be built) is critical in our thinking,” he wrote.

He said he believes the proposal adheres to APA guidelines for low-intensity use designation — he is planning less than one home per 3.2 acres of land — and that the plans have a clustered style of development that leave large parcels of the land “accessible, maintained, yet untouched.”

Stackman also addressed his out-of-state status. A number of public comments were concerned that his Florida residency could disconnect him from local issues.

“Despite what some have alluded to, I am not ‘a deep pocketed developer from Miami,'” he wrote. “I was born in New York and brought up within a blue collar background. I became a carpenter and still roll up my sleeves every day on a construction site. … Having worked throughout my career with pride and a sense of purpose, I have built to some of the strictest building codes in the country, dealing with issues such as rising sea levels, mangroves, turtle habitat protection and more; all while working alongside some of the best professionals and top designers on the forefront of this industry.”

Stackman said he believes his project “goes beyond” the guidelines and rules set by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. He said he plans to work with the state Department of Transportation and other relevant agencies to ensure that the project doesn’t interfere with local traffic.

Stackman touted the project as having the potential to assist with an “economic boom” for the area, with a variety of units at different price points that would appeal to people who “wish to have a second home, take advantage of remote work opportunities or seasonal/vacation homes, to enjoy the beauty and amenities the site, along with the entire region, offer.”

“The local growth and financial impact benefits that a project like this development would contribute to the town and the county, would no doubt help fund local affordable housing projects,” he wrote.

He said that the development would provide housing for people who work at the resort’s facilities. The development would be open to the public, he said, with a network of trails and a spa, lodge, hotel and restaurant.

Stackman wrote in an email Dec. 10 that he was waiting on the APA to review and respond to his initial proposal.