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DUMMERSTON — A plan to turn the old Maple Valley Ski Area into a brewery and distillery received approval from the District 2 Environmental Commission.

However, the commission denied the applicant's request to host up to 24 outdoor events featuring amplified music, on the grounds it "will have an undue adverse effect on the aesthetics of the area."

"[Sugar Mountain] has tried and failed to convince us that the rock concerts or other proposed [events] for this location will hardly be noticeable because of the traffic on Route 30," wrote Thomas Fitzgerald, the chairman of the District 2 Commission. His fellow commissioners are Cheryl Cox and Julia H. Schmitz. "The traffic on Route 30 will reliably drown out the music 36 seconds of each hour."

However, states the decision, for the remaining 3,564 seconds of each hour, the music will be at or over limits established by the state.

"Just because someone lives on a state highway, doesn’t mean that living next to 24 rock concerts per year isn’t shocking or offensive," states the decision. "It certainly would be to the average person. This activity has not been in character with this location for over 20 years."

Maple Valley consists of 370 acres on the west side of Route 30 and 5 acres on the east side, along the West River.

The Sugar Mountain project calls for renovating the lodge into a brewery and distillery with a 30-seat tasting room. The developers also proposed 24 large events a year, requiring overflow parking in the parcel along the river.

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The decision noted plans for the overflow parking lot "don't support the [state’s] priority strategies, including climate change adaptation strategies and species habitat needs. ... It also does not provide for the full suite of functions and values of undisturbed woody riparian corridors."

The applicants submitted a riparian management plan that called for a 50-foot buffer to the river, which would have allowed for parking in the lot twice a month.

However, the commission concluded the plot is in a floodplain and a 100-foot buffer, as recommended by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, is needed, eliminating room for any parking spaces.

Maple Valley Ski resort operated at this property on and off from the 1960s until 2000. 

This project, states the decision, "offends the sensibilities of the average person, or is offensive or shocking because it is out of character with its surroundings or significantly diminishes the scenic qualities of the area [and] the applicants failed to take generally available mitigating steps which a reasonable person would take to improve the harmony of the project with its surroundings."

The application was submitted 1,000 days ago.

Bob Audette can be contacted at raudette@reformer.com.