The Hermitage Club at Haystack Mountain, the only private ski resort on the East Coast, is thrilled to announce the Act 250 approval of its master plan.
A 10-Year blueprint for the development of Haystack Mountain and the surrounding area, the Master Plan includes an expansion of ski terrain, the construction of hotels, ski homes and townhouses across the mountain totaling more than 400 units. The Club’s Act 250 Master Plan approval had been repeatedly delayed for more than year and a half, preventing millions in revenue from reaching the state and local towns.
“We’re so excited to finally cross the finish line on our master plan approval,” said Jim Barnes, President and Founder of the Hermitage Club. “So much time and energy has been spent pursuing this, and I am so proud of our team. We’ve invested more than $135 million in this region over the last four years, and this approval will enable us to keep driving the local economy. With so many jobs to fill, products to purchase and projects to undertake, our long-term development of both the Club and mountain will have a lasting ripple effect throughout the entire Deerfield Valley.”
All of the affirmative findings and preliminary findings are binding on all parties for a period of 10 years from the date of this decision. This approval will now enable to Club to expedite permits for individual building projects in an abbreviated manner, as well as move forward with building permits that have already been filed — such as the 8 Grenoble Way Townhomes. In fact, buyers can start making interior finish choices with confidence for fall completion.
Vermont’s Land Use and Development Act, known as Act 250, was passed in 1970 by the Vermont legislature and designed to mitigate the effects of development through an application process that addresses the environmental and community impacts of projects that exceed a size threshold. The law created nine District Environmental Commissions to review large-scale development projects, such as the Hermitage Club’s Master Plan, using 10 criteria that are designed to safeguard the environment, community life and aesthetic character of the state. These commissions have the power to issue or deny a permit to real estate developers for any project that encompasses more than 10 acres. Act 250 also created the Vermont Environmental Board to review appeals coming from District Commission rulings.
Given the repeated delays, Barnes, along with Chief Financial Officer Dan Solaz and Communications Director Brendan McGrail, met with Vermont Governor Phil Scott on Feb. 6 to discuss the Club’s importance to both the state and local area, as well as to hear the governor’s thoughts on improving the Act 250 process. Scott’s campaign included a plan to streamline Act 250 review to 90 days. According to the state’s Natural Resources Board, 450 days had passed between the Club’s application and approval.
“The Hermitage Club is an important part of the Southeastern Vermont economy and the successful completion of its master plan review will enable it to continue to expand, providing much-needed employment opportunities in this part of the state,” the governor wrote in response to a letter-writing campaign by Club supporters.
Since 2007, the Hermitage Club has purchased several tracts of land and combined them into one, with a total investment of nearly $300 million over the duration of the Master Plan. More than $135 million has been invested in the Deerfield Valley region in the last four years, with the Club completing numerous residential and commercial construction projects, including a 90,000-square-foot clubhouse, a heated high-speed chair lift, more than two dozen luxury homes and town homes, and the renovation of six inns in Wilmington and Dover.
The Club’s total investment throughout the Master Plan will generate nearly $6 million in education taxes annually through 2025, according to a Growth & Fiscal Impact Analysis compiled by Doug Kennedy Advisors for The Hermitage Club. The study estimates that 235 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs will be created throughout the impact period up to 2025 due to construction. All employment, including construction, club operations, indirect and induced employment totals will reach nearly 750 FTEs at the plan’s completion in 2025.
Through completed projects so far, the Club is responsible for $1.3 million in annual property taxes. Extrapolated through to the completion of the Master Plan, that means roughly $15 million per year in state and local tax revenue.
“I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of our members, investors, team members and vendors who helped us persevere through this long and often arduous process,” Barnes said. “The best is yet to come.”