Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

Friends of the Shawangunks v. Clark

Citation: 14 ELR 20669
No. No. 82 CV 1769, 585 F. Supp. 195/(N.D.N.Y., 04/02/1984)

The court rules that allowing a resort to build a golf course on land over which New York holds a conservation easement funded under the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act (LWCFA) would not violate the Act. The court first rules that the controversy is ripe. Although the resort developers have not yet acquired title to the land, the Department of the Interior (DOI) has indicated that it would approve amendment of the easement to allow the golf course to be built, and all parties involved would be adversely affected if the court postponed its ruling. Also, the court holds that plaintiffs have standing.

Turning to the merits, the court concludes that it must uphold DOI's determination that amending the easement to allow a golf course would not work a "conversion" of the land under LWCFA § 6(f)(3). Under that section, a conversion occurs if the property is changed to other than outdoor public recreation use. Since the property is presently not open to the public, building a golf course will not change any existing recreational use of the land and will not constitute a conversion. The limited public access available when the land becomes a hotel golf course will be a bonus to the public. The court declines to read § 6(f)(8) of the Act, outlawing access discrimination to eased land based on residence, to outlaw the proposed limited public access to the course. Similarly, the proposed plan does not contravene the Secretary of the Interior's regulations on discrimination on the basis of residence.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Philip H. Gitlen
Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna
One Commerce Pl., Albany NY 12260
(518) 449-7600

Counsel for Defendants
William P. Fanciullo, Ass't U.S. Attorney
U.S. Cthse., 445 Broadway, Albany NY 12207
(518) 472-5522

Benjamin R. Pratt Jr.
Miller, Mannix, Lemery & Kafin
11 Chester St., Glens Falls NY 12801
(518) 793-6611