Comments from Friends of Mount Sunapee
FOMS Opposes West Bowl Expansion & Master Development Plan as Written
September 26, 2014
Commissioner Jeffrey Rose
NH Department of Resources and Economic Development
172 Pembroke Road
P.O. Box 1856
Concord, NH 03302-1856
Dear Commissioner Rose,
On behalf of the Friends of Mount Sunapee I want to thank you for the opportunity to provide comments on the proposed 2015-2019 Mount Sunapee Master Development Plan (MDP). As you may know we are a local alliance of citizens from towns across our mountain region. Our mission is to advocate for preservation of Mount Sunapee State Park, conservation of the Sunapee highlands and Lake Sunapee watershed, and continuation of the unique and rural and natural character of our communities.
Our organization opposes acceptance of the proposed MDP as written. We feel there are a number of unaddressed issues that will require a revision of the MDP followed by a hearing and reopening of the public comment period. Our concerns include, but are not limited, to the omission of previously proposed residential development in the West Bowl, the legal and public policy implications of commingling of State Park land and private land and the lack of inclusion of relevant environmental impact studies commissioned by the State.
To properly understand both the short and long-term consequences of proposed expansion all future development needs to be disclosed in an accessible and transparent manner. A five-year snap shot simply does not offer the necessary insight required for citizens to reach an informed opinion. More specifically, the 2005-2009 MDP marked an area, within the West Bowl, slated for 175-250 residential condominium units. However, the 2015-2019 MDP is now silent as to the potential development. Accordingly, we respectfully request that a revised MDP set forth all future proposed expansion on both public and private land including, but not limited to, trails, lifts, facilities, parking, utilities, infrastructure, and any associated residential or commercial real estate development.
There are numerous legal and public policy concerns associated with commingling public and private land. First, what are the implications of creating infrastructure and land improvements that may be potentially reliant on one another? How will DRED retain oversight on privately developed land? How will the expansion be handled at the termination of the lease? Second, we believe that using public conservation land to facilitate adjacent private real estate development fails to meet the public’s interest.
Finally, the MDP cites environmental and economic impact studies commissioned by the lessee but fails to address the 2004 NH Natural Heritage Bureau report, which identifies a stand of old growth forest on the West Bowl. Accordingly, we are requesting that a revision of the MDP address the NH Natural Heritage Bureau report. Additionally, we request comparable economic impact studies be commissioned by the State. While we recognize the likely cost of conducting a corresponding study failure to do so would be negligent.
In conclusion we ask that the proposed MDP application be halted, a revised MDP with greater transparency and detail be submitted for hearing and public comment and the State commission independent impact studies. We thank you for your time and consideration.