Hermitage Club

The six-person chairlift at the Hermitage Members Club at Haystack Mountain.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.  

WILMINGTON — Plans to construct a maintenance/storage shed for grooming machines at the private ski resort at Haystack Mountain and finish townhomes were approved by the Development Review Board.

During a remote meeting on March 1, the Hermitage Members Club Inc. went before the DRB seeking permission to amend a master plan previously approved by the board and partially approved by the state. Hamilton Hodgman of Stevens & Associates called the earlier plan “a framework for future development.”

Renewed local approval was needed to complete two Grenoble townhomes near the lower mountain, which had been under construction starting in 2017. Foundation walls and building supplies have been sitting on the property after the former owner of the Hermitage went into receivership in 2018.

The site where the club wants to construct a maintenance/storage building for Snowcats used for grooming the slopes has changed to an area with access to the upper mountain for the Snowcats and a paved street on Fanny Hill Road for vehicles. There isn’t enough room in the existing maintenance building to work on and store the Snowcats, Hodgman told the board.

A “magic carpet” used for bringing skiers or boarders uphill is anticipated to be built this year, according to testimony. The Vermont Agency of Natural Resource is asking the club to make improvements to its water withdrawal system to meet current environmental standards, a project the town will also allow once the state approves plans.

The hearing spanned two DRB meetings and a site visit last month. A decision was issued March 16 and the appeal period lapses April 17, Wilmington Zoning Administrator Mike Tuller said.

“Technically, construction work could be applied for at the town office for the townhomes and/or the maintenance building beginning April 18,” Tuller said Thursday in an email response to the Reformer. “No concerns have been voiced by the public regarding the [Planned Unit Development] Master Plan or the short-term priority projects contemplated.”

On Thursday, Hermitage General Manager Bill Benneyan said he anticipates construction will begin by the end of the month.

Final approval is contingent on getting all applicable licenses and permits needed from the state, according to the decision. Plans also need to be agreeable to the town’s fire and police departments.

The Grenoble development is limited to eight units with 30 parking spaces, the decision states. Additional units or parking spaces would need to be approved by the DRB.

The club also has to install downcast lighting with a motion sensor to the exterior of the maintenance shed, post signage for the Valley Trail by the gatehouse, provide public access to the trail with at least three parking spaces, and restrict public access to the maintenance area.

At the hearing, Hodgman estimated about 36 single-family homes along the upper mountain will need local and state approval at a later date when demand increases for the units. Seven duplex villas and more townhomes at the Stag’s Leap development also are still part of the plan.

The Hermitage Inn was sold to club members Wednesday, said Benneyan, who expects the club to work closely together with the inn.

“We have now divested of all of our non-core operating assets so that we can focus on operating as a ski club,” he said. “A lot has happened in the last 12 months. It was a spectacular ski season with all the abundant natural snow.”

Benneyan said club membership has grown 35 percent, with 67 new members added to the original 180 founding members who bought the assets last year. Currently, member count is at 247.

“We’ve still got a couple years of growth before we meet our plan,” Benneyan said, “but this bodes very well for our focused and disciplined strategy.”

Talk with us

Since COVID-19 makes it difficult to convene Coffees with the President, if you have a question or a comment about The Eagle, send it to company President Fredric D. Rutberg at frutberg@berkshireeagle.com