Balsams’ developer still has not submitted NHDES AOT application
By Edith Tucker
The Berlin Daily Sun
LANCASTER — Although progress is being made toward preparing to start construction at The Balsams, the developer still has not applied for the key Alteration of Terrain (AOT) permit from the state Department of Environmental Services, required before any work can be done to expand the ski area.
The Coös County Planning Board completed a lot of “housekeeping” work, however, at its Tuesday night meeting.
After reviewing a double-sided 113-page document, it voted unanimously to approve this “compendium.” The thick packet includes all the conditions of approval for The Balsams’ Planned Unit Development (PUD) Master Plan and Review Guide on which the board had previously voted “yes” for Dixville Capital LLC, designed to allow the developer to reopen and expand the now-shuttered resort in the Unincorporated Place of Dixville.
“This is another format of what is already done,” explained Tara Bamford, senior planner at the North Country Council. “It’s the conditions of approval pasted in; no changes have been made.”
Under chairman John Scarinza of Randolph, the board also reviewed and approved subdivisions and lot line adjustments in a second “conditions of approval” document, confirming the action taken at its July 5 meeting.
Ed Brisson, the only member of the Dixville Capital team on hand, submitted a letter written by Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED) Commissioner Jeff Rose that confirmed the agency is aware that part of the mitigation for the four-season resort’s expansion would not only add acreage to Dixville State Park but also that the buffer would be acceptable for the proposed ski area. Brisson explained in July that these subdivisions and lot line adjustments would not be recorded at the Coös Registry of Deeds until the final financial closing for all the properties.
During these discussions a few corrections were made with Brisson and board members readily reaching agreement.
Vice chairman Fred King of Colebrook then asked Brisson what progress had been made toward getting construction underway.
He replied that Dixville Capital still has not applied for the Alteration of Terrain permit. King later estimated that it would cost Dixville Capital LLC some $300,000 to come up with the detailed information the permit calls for.
Brisson did say, however, that the team has nearly finished work on the remaining other seven items needed for the ski area application to be considered complete, including the ski-back bridge design and the Phase I construction drawings for drainage-stormwater structures. There are many other steps still pending, including financing.
Construction might be able to begin by year’s end or in early 2017, Brisson said.
Investors and potential Hampshire House shared-use apartment buyers have been on site to see model rooms, he reported.
Colebrook select board members as well as state reps and other politicians have also been invited to see these models.
Scarinza said that he had also received an invitation from Dixville Capital on behalf of the whole Planning Board, potentially in small groups. The chairman explained that he had checked in with attorney Bernie Waugh of Lebanon who suggested that accepting such an invitation could lead to litigation.
Two board members, Berlin attorney Tom McCue and Mike Waddell of Gorham, agreed with Waugh’s recommendation, pointing out that the state’s Right to Know law is quite clear.
After considerable discussion, board member Tom Brady suggested that the board hold a regular public meeting at the Country Club, with time for board members to see the general layout of the property.
Board member Rick Tillotson of Colebrook explained that he had gone to see the model apartments and to hear his son tell potential investors about the resort’s history, drawing on his family’s memorabilia.
Earlier in the evening the board voted “no” unanimously on Rick Nadig’s application for a building permit to erect a 4- by 8-foot sign on Route 26 in Millsfield advertising River Edge Inn & RV Sites and the Black Bear Tavern some 18 miles away in Colebrook.
The zoning ordinance is silent on whether signs can be placed advertising businesses located off premises. The board agreed that if the ordinance does not permit a particular use, then it lacks the authority to approve it.
The board unanimously approved an application from AT&T to put new equipment on its existing cell tower in Dixville and also ratified two building permits to replace worn-out waterfront camps, one in Wentworth’s Location and the other in Millsfield, with new three-season dwellings on concrete slabs with a number of conditions. Scarinza said that the applicants have secured NHDES permits under the state’s Shoreland Water Quality Protection Act.