Sunapee’s expansion: A deal emerges at lastEDITORIAL
April 19. 2015 8:25PM
Mount Sunapee Resort will at long last get to expand its ski area, located on state land, providing a needed economic boost to the region. Department of Resources and Economic Development Commissioner Jeff Rose deserves credit for finding a way to approve the expansion without sending radical environmentalists to Concord bearing environmentally friendly pitchforks and clean-burning torches.
Resort operators Tim and Diane Mueller lease land within a state park. The company has done a good job generating profits, some of which contribute to the state budget. New Hampshire has a profit-making state park that provides jobs and brings in tourists, which is a great deal for the state, but as always there are critics who find profit, private enterprise and development distasteful.
The resort has tried for about a decade to expand, which resulted in lengthy regulatory and legal processes. Last week, Rose proposed a compromise that would allow the resort to expand in its West Bowl, provided it meets numerous conditions, including deeding hundreds of acres of land to the state so the entire ski area is on state land. The expansion initially would have had the ski area crossing from public onto private land.
There are concessions extending protections for forested land and creating larger buffer zones between the ski area and neighbors’ homes.
The Muellers will pay a high price for permission to create more jobs and boost the local economy. Such is the current political climate. Even with a deal that has the state gaining more than 400 acres of land, a Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests official expressed regret in the Concord Monitor that the expansion would be allowed at all.
After all the resort has done for the state, this is the thanks it gets. No doubt some greens will complain that Rose recommend extending the resort’s lease for an additional decade as partial compensation for the revenue lost during this unneccessarily long delay. It seems to us that a decade’s lease extension is the least the state can do to make up for the delay and say thanks for the donation of hundreds of acres of land.
It will take some time to review this proposal thoroughly. But at last this process is near its end.