DUMMERSTON — There will be a public hearing and site visit at the former Maple Valley Ski Area on Thursday, Dec. 2, at 10:30 a.m. to discuss renovating the base lodge into a brewery and distillery with a tasting room seating 100 people.
Sugar Mountain Holdings, which purchased the ski area in 2018, also hopes to host events, such as weddings, at the site.
According to the Vermont Secretary of State’s Office, Sugar Mountain Holdings, which is based in Weatogue, Conn., is “member managed.” It bought the 375-acre property for $745,000 from MVS Associates.
Keane Aures, who is named as a member on the business listing, is the senior counsel in the Hartford office of the law firm of Gordon & Rees and specializes in construction law. He is also listed as the manager of Slippery Slope Brewing Company and Slippery Slope Distillers.
Aures and Jonathan Tobin, chief operating officer of Sugar Mountain Holdings, declined the opportunity to speak in advance of the meeting.
The public is welcome to attend the hearing and those who wish to receive party status can show up at the hearing. Those who can’t make the hearing and still want to receive party status need to contact Stephanie Gile, ACT 250 district coordinator with the Vermont Natural Resources Board, at 802-289-0597 or Stephanie.email@example.com, before the meeting.
A public prehearing conference “has narrow goals and is designed to identify the parties and issues prior to convening a hearing to evaluate the merits of the case,” according to the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.
The members of the Act 250 Regional Commission will be on hand during the site visit.
According to documents filed with the Agency for Natural Resources, the project received approval from the Dummerston Development Review Board in December 2019.
The plan calls for a 1,900-square-foot distillery production area and a tasting room at 3,400 square feet. The facility is expected to employ 12 people working from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week and the tasting room and retail space are expected to be open from noon to 9 p.m. seven days a week. There will be space on site for four food trucks, which will have access to electricity so gas generators won’t be needed.
Special events including live music are planned to be held in an area on the west side of the existing lodge building. The existing elevated deck will be removed and replaced with a ground-level patio to accommodate these events.
A noise study conducted by Cross-Spectrum analysis concluded noise at the facility would be no louder than traffic currently passing by on Route 30, though noise during construction could potentially be louder.
“Although the Maple Valley Ski Area has been closed for several years, previously the facility was used as a live music venue,” states the noise study. “Therefore, the reintroduction of special events including live music would not be a new or unusual noise source for the area.”
The site plan calls for 41 guest parking spaces and 10 spaces for employees. The gravel parking lot on the east side of Route 30 will be used for overflow parking, with access to the facility through a corrugated pedestrian tunnel that goes under the road. However, the gravel will be removed and the lot will be resurfaced with grass. Public access to the West River will be retained.
The Act 250 application states when the facility is fully functional, it will generate more than $200,000 a year in sales and liquor taxes.
Three new structures are proposed for the site — a pavilion for patrons and small events, a wastewater pretreatment facility and a whiskey storage barn.
The property is currently assessed at $1,477,300, and the applicable town and state taxes for the project site are $27,343 annually, states the application. Based on the proposed improvements and using current tax rates, the estimated value of the project site after completion will be approximately $2.5 million and the estimated taxes would be $47,000 annually.
All brewery and distillery production wastewater will be gravity fed into a below ground holding tank located in the island between the current ski lodge and Route 30, and will be pumped out periodically and transported to the local waste processing facility.
All spent grain will be composted on the premises following the receipt of a small composting facility permit from the state. The compost will be used on site to promote plant growth and regenerate the soils.