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Goshen holds hearing Dec. 7 on Goshen Rec District language

Proposed wording changes in the Goshen zoning and building ordinances for the town’s Recreation District will be discussed at a public hearing held by the the Planning Board on Thursday, December 7, 2017, at 7 pm at the Goshen Town Hall.

Adopted in 2014, the regulations for the Goshen Recreation District address “year-round recreational and other uses” within the leasehold area at Mount Sunapee State Park and on adjoining lands owned by Sunapee Land Holdings, a limited liability company controlled by the operator of Okemo/Mount Sunapee Resort.

The town planners seek to clarify “Uses Permitted (subject to site plan review approval by the Planning Board)” by adding: “A.4.b19 Anything not specifically listed above needs approval from the Planning Board and/or Zoning Board.”

Earlier in the year, Okemo/Mount Sunapee Resort installed a 3D archery range in Goshen on state park land without prior consultation with the planning board or site plan review. According to town-posted correspondence on the subject, the planning board hopes that the wording change will prevent similar problems in the future.

“This will be a public hearing where residents may voice their concerns if desired,” the notice states. No wording is proposed to be removed or otherwise altered in this section, town planners say. The wording change will go to voters during Town Meeting in March 2018.

View the proposed wording change Recreation District Changes PDF (93kb) or visit the Town of Goshen website for Planning Board minutes (see November 2, 2017).  Contact FOMS for more information.

FOMS and NHSC seek full review of Och-Ziff Mt. Sunapee deal

Before the August 22 informational meeting at Mount Sunapee State Park, some people demonstrated their concerns about the state’s management of the park by holding signs that read: “Lease Violated,” “Mount Sunapee State Park, Endangered Species,”and “Where Is State Oversight?”

The Friends of Mount Sunapee and the New Hampshire Chapter of the Sierra Club are seeking a full and transparent review into Och-Ziff’s acquisition of the Mount Sunapee lease. In April 2017, Och-Ziff, a New York based hedge fund criminally sanctioned under the Foreign Corruptions Act, acquired the ski area lease at Mount Sunapee State Park.

“We appeal to elected state officials to begin a complete and transparent review of this lease acquisition and all related documents. The people of New Hampshire, who are the rightful owners of the Mount Sunapee State Park, must be assured that our state park is in the hands worthy of the public’s trust,” said Steve Russell, the president of the Friends of Mount Sunapee.

Russell commented at the state-sponsored “public information session,” which attracted more than 100 people to the state park Tuesday evening.

Before the meeting, some people demonstrated their concerns about the state’s management of the park by holding signs that read: “Lease Violated,” “Mount Sunapee State Park, Endangered Species,” and “Where Is State Oversight?”

In attendance were state officials including Executive Councilors Andru Volinsky and Joseph Kenney, Commissioner Jeffrey Rose (Department of Natural and Cultural Resources), New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald, Associate AG Anne Edwards, and representatives from Och-Ziff, who tried to allay public concerns about Och-Ziff’s corporate practices.

However, many members of the audience appeared skeptical and unconvinced by the state’s assertions and corporate promises and left with questions unanswered about why the Och-Ziff transaction occurred without appropriate financial review and what impact it will have on maintenance and development of the park.

“The New Hampshire attorney general’s assertion that this transaction is not within the purview of state oversight contradicts language in the original 1998 Lease Agreement,” said Russell.

“Examining risk and financial security is essential to maintaining the public trust. It is standard practice in all state contracts. This contract involving the future of Mount Sunapee State Park is no exception,” he added.

The ski area lease at Mount Sunapee State Park now takes in 1035 acres of public land, forested and developed land in Newbury and Goshen.

Read related articles:
Questions Raised About Sunapee Resort Ownership – Associated Press via the Valley News, August 24, 2017) —
http://www.vnews.com/Questions-Raised-About-Sunapee-Resort-Ownership-12040817

State officials, hedge fund address public concerns around Mount Sunapee lease – NHPR, August 23, 2017 —
http://nhpr.org/post/state-officials-hedge-fund-address-public-concerns-around-mount-sunapee-lease#stream/0

Latest News via FOMS —
http://www.friendsofmountsunapee.org/public-citizen-warns-state-about-oversight-of-och-ziff-at-mount-sunapee/

Public Citizen warns State about oversight of Och-Ziff at Mount Sunapee

Today the national watchdog group Public Citizen warned the State of New Hampshire about the failures of deferred prosecution agreements in regards to Och-Ziff, the new leaseholder at Mount Sunapee State Park.

Download/view the Public Citizen letter here: PCochziff (pdf 66kb)

The Department of Justice secured a criminal plea by Och-Ziff for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in September 2016. “Central to the criminal plea by Och-Ziff, the company entered into a three-year Deferred Prosecution Agreement,” according to Tyson Slocum of Public Citizen.

Public Citizen asserts that Deferred Prosecution Agreements “have proved to be inadequate enforcement and oversight mechanisms” and have not held corporate criminals appropriately accountable.

The letter to Commissioner Jeffrey Rose of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR) comes one day before a state-sponsored “public information session” about the ski area lease, Och-Ziff, and future of Mount Sunapee. The meeting to address public concerns will be on Tuesday, August 22 at 6 pm at Mount Sunapee State Park in Newbury.

“The State of New Hampshire should not rely solely on the terms of the DOJ Deferred Prosecution Agreement as a primary instrument to ensure that Och-Ziff is a reputable steward of public resources,” wrote Slocum. “Rather it would be prudent for the State of New Hampshire to insist on additional measures to ensure that a corporate felon is an adequate custodian of the lease.”

In June 2017, the DNCR commissioner and N.H. attorney general revealed that Och-Ziff, a New York-based hedge fund, was the new leaseholder at Mount Sunapee. According to N.H. registry filings, Och-Ziff took over the ski area lease April 6, 2017.

In September 2016, the U.S. Dept. of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sanctioned Och-Ziff under the provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, resulting in civil and criminal fines totaling $412 million.

At the time, Public Citizen reported, “Och-Ziff engaged in a massive bribery scheme in numerous African countries, over a period of years, with the direct involvement of high-level officials. It did not self-disclose its illegal activities and was slow to cooperate fully in the early stages of the government’s investigation.”

An enforcement officer for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission stated, “Och-Ziff engaged in complicated, far-reaching schemes to get special access and secure significant deals and profits through corruption,” according to the New York Times (October 2016).

The ski area lease at Mount Sunapee State Park takes in approximately 1,135 acres (public land) in Newbury and Goshen, which includes ancient forest, exemplary natural communities, public hiking trails and recreational facilities and infrastructure. DNCR is the state agency responsible for managing N.H. state parks.

Public session to address Och-Ziff and plans for future at Mount Sunapee

Mark your calendar. “Information about Och-Ziff and plans for the future at Mount Sunapee” will be presented at a public meeting held at Mount Sunapee State Park on August 22, 2017, at 6 pm.

According to the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR), Division of Parks and Recreation, the “public informational session” pertains “to the lease holder of the Lease and Operating Agreement for Mount Sunapee State Park ski area.”

In June, state wide newspapers reported on Och-Ziff taking over the ski area lease at Mount Sunapee. The Concord Monitor reported:

After bribery schemes in Africa led the U.S. government to fine the new operator of Mount Sunapee Resort $412 million last year – one of the biggest penalties ever issued under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act – the New Hampshire attorney general wants to hold a public information meeting about plans for the resort. — via Concord Monitor (June 7, 2017)

At the time, the Union Leader reported that Attorney General Gordon McDonald “said the deal between Och-Ziff [the new operator] and CNL was structured to avoid triggering the state’s right to intervene.”

Earlier in the year, Friends of Mount Sunapee (FOMS) communicated to Commissioner Jeffrey Rose concerns about Och-Ziff taking over the lease. Rose oversees the agency responsible for management of New Hampshire’s state parks.

“In recognition of the State’s responsibilities in the oversight and management of Mount Sunapee State Park, we urge the State to seek a leaseholder that meets ethical and financial standards that inspire public confidence and trust,” FOMS wrote the commissioner.

Information Session at Mount Sunapee State Park

When: Tuesday, August 22, 2017, at 6 p.m.

Where: Mount Sunapee Resort’s Sunapee Lodge located at Mount Sunapee State Park in Newbury, NH.

See DNCR notice: Rose Mt Sunapee Public Info Session scheduled for 082217  (pdf 26kb)

 

Newbury Master Plan: Updated and ready for review

The Newbury Planning Board is accepting public input through July 11, 2017, on the town’s revised Master Plan, and will consider adoption of the final Master Plan at its next regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, July 18, 2017, at 7 p.m.

Comment on the Master Plan, Envision Newbury 2027, can be submitted to Newbury Land Use Coordinator Patricia Sweet-MacDonald.

The plan and contact information are available on the Town of Newbury website.

Or download the draft Master Plan here: mpdraft4.2_6.16.17_xs (pdf 7MB).

NH splits up DRED resources and economic development agency

The New Hampshire budget and Committee of Conference Report contain provisions that have received little notice: the immediate break-up of DRED, the Department of Resources and Economic Development. The split of DRED’s four divisions — economic development, parks and recreation, forests and lands, and travel and tourism — is effective July 1, 2017.

A new Department of Business and Economic Affairs will include economic development and travel and tourism.

A Department of Natural and Cultural Resources will now include the divisions of parks and recreation;  forests and lands; libraries; arts; film and digital media; and historical resources, which shall also be known as the state historic preservation office.

Governor Chris Sununu sought, and legislators approved the split contained in the Committee of Conference Report (HB5 517) and appropriations (contained in HB 144).

If you can help the Friends of Mount Sunapee (FOMS) with analysis and coverage of this change in oversight of our parks and cultural and historical resources, please contact us.

Download/view the Committee of Conference Report HB 517 Adopted 6-22-17 (pdf 886kb)

Download/view HB 144 Adopted 6-22-17 (pdf 1.7MB)

Public policy and public lands: FOMS believes the State’s primary responsibility at Mount Sunapee State Park is to serve as guardian of the public interest and to deny efforts that undermine the essential conservation and public recreational values for which the park fundamentally exists to provide. We support the wise and thoughtful use of our public parks and forested lands so as to protect their natural heritage for future generations.

Newbury to hold hearing on master plan update: Envision Newbury 2027

The Newbury Planning Board will hold a public hearing on Thursday, June 29, 2017, at 7:00 p.m. in the Newbury Town Offices to review and discuss the Adoption of 2017 Master Plan Update. A hard copy of the Draft 2017 Master Plan entitled Envision Newbury 2027 is available for public review at the Town Office Building and at the Newbury Public Library (during regular business hours) and available for review on the Town of Newbury website https://www.newburynh.org/newbury-master-plan.

The vision, goals and recommendations contained in this Master Plan are designed to guide and aid the Planning Board and other Town boards in performing their respective duties with the overall goal of accomplishing coordinated and harmonious development of the Town of Newbury, New Hampshire.

Documents involving Sunapee ski lease sale to Och-Ziff

The Friends of Mount Sunapee continues to gather and make available via its website information about the sale of the ski area lease at Mount Sunapee State Park to the criminally sanctioned hedge fund Och-Ziff. The ownership change and a $251 million Leasehold Mortgage, which now encumbers the state-owned ski area at Mount Sunapee, occurred in April without review by the Executive Council.

The FOMS library of news articles and registry filings now include the following documents, all dated April 6, 2017: a Quit Claim Deed; $251 Leasehold Mortgage; and Subordination, Non-Disturbance, and Attornment Agreement.

Go to http://www.friendsofmountsunapee.org/jwl-utmce-widget/sale-of-lease-at-mount-sunapee-registry-filings-state-docs/

or http://bit.ly/2rJKM9g

See related articles and industry press releases.

See related Lessor Estoppel and AG/DRED Memo

If you have information to share or can help with analysis, please contact FOMS.

Responsibilities of the Executive Council include to approve contracts with a value greater than $25,000 and to assure “all major executive branch business is conducted in public with the press present.”

Copyright 2017 Friends of Mount Sunapee