WILMINGTON -- The Hermitage Club has received a permit from the Development Review Board to upgrade and replace one of its chair lifts.
"Everything on the Barnstormer will be taken out," Hermitage Club Vice President of Construction and Development Bob Rubin said in a previous interview. "The nice part is it's in the same footprint so there's no tree clearing. There will be very little disturbance for this job moving forward."
The project was approved by the DRB after the hearing was split into two meetings. The second part of the hearing was scheduled so an interested party, Thomas Cross, of Alt Charities, Inc., could provide feedback if he wanted to.
"(Cross) stated that Alt Charities is the first mortgage holder for the ski area," the DRB wrote. "He stated that he had not seen the application."
The Hermitage Club's attorney Bob Fisher gave him information regarding the application when the hearing began on July 21. Cross did not attend the second date of the hearing on Aug. 18.
Applicants were seeking a conditional use permit allowing for a new lift, towers and construction of a chair storage building. The approval expires in two years.
According to the DRB's findings, the new six-person chairlift will don a bubble cover to protect skiers and snowboarders from wind and stormy conditions. The replacement will reduce the riding time to the summit from 15 minutes to 6 minutes.
The new lift will be able to transport 2,800 guests per hour using 88 chairs and it will be located in the same approximate location as the existing Barnstormer lift.
Construction for the lift is planned to begin in mid-May 2015 and conclude towards the end of November.
Hermitage Club representatives have had meetings with Green Mountain Power about putting in a new substation that will assist with operations at Haystack. A next step likely will involve GMP submitting an application for the project to the Public Service Board.
"GMP Corporation currently allocates power to the ski area in a way so that lifts and snowmaking machinery are not operating concurrently," the DRB stated. "Although it's not necessary for the operation of the new lift, GMP is planning a new substation near the ski area to increase power to the power grid serving the area to the north."
The DRB's conditions state that the applicant should confirm with Zoning Administrator Craig Ohlson that adequate electric power exists for the operation of the new lift before lift operations begin so that no burden is imposed on other properties based on the usage of the lift.
Since applicants were not seeking to change an existing use, the board found that the project would not increase the use of town water or sewer facilities. And since the property is a private resort open only to members and a restricted number of guests, the board found it would not have an undue adverse effect on traffic on roads and highways in the area.
Other conditions imposed by the DRB included keeping the hours of operation the same, which is 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; having no lighting placed on the lift towers; and getting the plans reviewed and approved by Wilmington Fire Chief Ken March as well as appropriate state and federal agencies before construction.
After the lift is installed, the Hermitage Club will able to tout its third new lift since the mountain reopened under its current ownership. Aging lifts at the resort had been one of its disqualifiers, according to Rubin.
"Over the last couple years, we've kind of taken care of that," he said.
Stag's Leap Quad was constructed last year and it services the lower section of the mountain. The Tage lift was constructed a year before. It brings skiers and riders from the Hermitage Inn to the base area.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.