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Sugarbush redevelopment discussed at Warren Planning Commission

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03/26/2009

By Kara Herlihy

Members of the Warren Planning Commission discussed specific concerns they have about the ongoing Lincoln Peak redevelopment project recently. Connectivity between the existing Sugarbush Village and the proposed buildings within Phase 1B and 1C is the primary issue.

 

Planning Commission members heard an overview of the redevelopment project as it is proposed currently at their March 17 meeting. A year-round pedestrian pathway between the old village and the proposed village is a top priority, according to planning commissioners, to be maintained by the resort.

PEDESTRIAN PATHWAY

Sugarbush development representatives Margo Wade and Jason Lisai presented their plans to the planning commission and fielded questions about the prospect of a pedestrian pathway. Lisai said the path connecting the old village to the proposed building sites would not be plowed in the winter.

"It is not our intention to plow through skiing terrain," Lisai said. The largest physical connection, according to Lisai, is the addition of a ski lift that will be 180 to 200 feet closer to Sugarbush Village.

"We think that's a fairly strong connection to Sugarbush Village," Lisai continued.

Wade said that signage is also being considered for the section of Inferno Road where foot traffic is prevalent between the overflow parking area.

Sugarbush traffic report update

By Kara Herlihy

Sugarbush development representatives Margo Wade and Jason Lisai presented an updated traffic plan to members of the Warren Select Board at their March 24 meeting. Signage and traffic at the four-way intersection of the Access Road and Village Road was of primary concern at last Tuesday's meeting.

Town officials tested the turning radius of large town emergency vehicles through the intersection, confirming that the space was sufficient for safe passing. Department of Public Works Director Barry Simpson said, "We found it possible to negotiate the turn without leaving pavement."

Select board chair Burt Bauchner said he "continues to be skeptical" and asked that any signage directing traffic through the intersection meet the state's standards.

Two additional Sugarbush Resort signs are planned for the immediate vicinity, as well as pavement markings directing cars through the intersection. Select board member Andy Cunningham questioned Lisai as to the size of the resort signage stating, "There is an awful lot of signage up there already. I'd be afraid that people would be looking at signs instead of at traffic."

Wade said that signage is also being considered for the section of Inferno Road where foot traffic is prevalent between the overflow parking area.

TIME AND MONEY

"We want to encourage connectivity and people walking, but it's a matter of time and money to make that investment," Lisai said.

Warren Planning Commission Chair Mike Ketchel asked hypothetically about families staying at the Clay Brook Condominiums who have finished skiing and would like to travel from Clay Brook to a restaurant in Sugarbush Village.

"Do they have to get in their car to do that?" Ketchel said.

TRACED A ROUTE

Lisai traced a route along the village road directly to the existing village. Wade said that the Mad Bus shuttle is also available to transport overnight guests to and from Sugarbush Village.

"The Town Plan is our guideline. From our perspective the base area development meets those guidelines. It's a sustainable business to keep people employed but also follows the spirit of the town plan. I think there are many ways to interpret it," Lisai added.

Planning commission members reviewed the specific concerns addressed in the letter drafted to Sugarbush. Among them was a request for Sugarbush to integrate a street network with the existing street network.

NOT OUR INTENT

 Lisai said, "It is not our intent to integrate a street network where we don't have anything."

The redevelopment project is in an effort to return skier visits and traffic to where they once were, according to Lisai.

"We want to make sure we can work with the Sugarbush Village owners because their success is directly related to our success. If our skier visits go up so will their business.... We want to make the experience as positive as we can," Lisai said.

"We don't want to invest infrastructure in something where the future is not clear" he continued. The pathway would be hard-packed snow surface, similar to the terrain around the Gate House, according to Lisai.

TOWN PLAN

Several Sugarbush Village property owners including Ron Zschaler spoke out in support of the planning commission's focus and adherence to the Town Plan, which specifically calls for the enhancement of interconnectivity between Sugarbush Village and the base area.

Property owners expressed apprehension about the "barrier" that Phase 1B and 1C will create between the ski area and Sugarbush Village.

"Everyone wants to see a physical connection, but it's a matter of what we see is going to get done," in reference to the financial restraints on the part of Sugarbush, Lisai said.

Planning commission chair Mike Ketchel said, "I think you've made strides in the right direction."

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