Wilmington board shows 'strong support' for Hermitage Club in letter

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WILMINGTON — The Select Board is showing "strong support" for the Hermitage Club as it seeks a master plan permit.

"While we are keenly aware of the many obstacles that originally surfaced during hearings, it does not appear, at this time, that there remains significant environmental issues that would impede moving forward on issuance of the base tract permit," stated a letter from Select Board Chairman Tom Fitzgerald to Stephanie Gile, district coordinator for the District 2 Environmental Commission. "Hermitage has legally divested themselves of the East Tract and adjoining airport. Thus, the Select Board is confused by the requirement in the third notice of hearing that Comtuck LLC and 4V8 LLC must now file as co-applicants to a master plan permit which they are not seeking as new owners of the respective new entities."

Officials in Wilmington, including board members, have wondered whether the commission was "overreaching" in its recent ruling to have the three companies present at the next permit hearing. On Wednesday, the Select Board finalized the letter that says continued permitting delays have had "adverse effects" on local employment.

At risk is a projected $100 million investment in the local community, the letter said. A 93-unit hotel is proposed for a location near Haystack Mountain, where the Hermitage Club runs a private ski resort.

The East Tract is a portion of land between the Hermitage Club's private ski resort at Haystack Mountain and the Deerfield Valley Airport. The airport and East Tract property were sold after the Hermitage Club struggled with obtaining an Act 250 permit for its master plan from the district environmental commission. Comtuck owns the East Tract and the airport belongs to 4V8.

The Select Board's letter said Comtuck or 4V8 do not appear to be affiliated with the Hermitage Club. Owners from both groups have told the Reformer how they met Hermitage Club founder and owner Jim Barnes through outside activities. Neither mentioned plans for selling the properties back to the Hermitage Club. Both still had plans for development but no timeline.

"In essence, the Select Board questions the rational to enjoin these new LLCs as co-applicants on the ski area base master plan under Rule 10," the letter stated. "We urge the commission to complete the processing of this application as soon as possible."

The Hermitage Club's hearing with the environmental commission is scheduled for Oct. 11. The company had hoped to begin construction on the hotel this summer.

Call Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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