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Court decision at Mt. Sunapee results in private gain, public loss

February 2015 Update: View the revised lease area at Mount Sunapee State Park, as recently submitted to the Court by the Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED): SUNAPEE LEASE 2015-Final (pdf 713Kb)

(See Letter to the Editor, InterTown Record, Feb. 10, 2015)

Mt. Sunapee: Let’s Get to the Point

In 1998, the state leased the ski area within Mount Sunapee State Park to Okemo Inc. A metes and bounds survey of the area to be leased was completed in May 1998, several weeks prior to the lease contract being finalized and recorded in the Merrimack County Registry of Deeds on on June 11, 1998. A clear and well defined map of the leased premise of +/-968 acres is part of the recorded documentation. Shown on the  map is a well defined ski area buffered within the non-commercial zone of the State Park.

After the contract for the lease was finalized and recorded, Okemo initiated lawsuits seeking $13 to $14 million dollars in damages from the people of the State of New Hampshire, based on the claim that the metes and bounds survey was misleading, and that they believed they were mislead into thinking that the lease line to the west extended all the way to the State Park boundary line, where they now own +/-650 acres of commercial development property.

At the first hearing on this matter the judge dismissed the claim. The courts are not in the business of rewriting contracts for parties that fail to conduct due diligence prior to entering into agreements. The sentiment was that the burden of their ‘mistake’ should not fall upon the people of New Hampshire.

What has changed since is that this same argument was then taken before Merrimack Superior Court Judge Larry Smukler, who decided that the plaintiffs were entitled to an additional gift of 175 acres of State Park land to the west of the original lease hold. This no-cost gift will now adjoin their privately held 650 acre development land to a pristine area of State Park forest, the former 175 acre buffer zone.

What has this cost the people of N.H. so far?  Seven years of expensive legal wrangling over an absurd claim of  ‘misunderstanding’ not supported by the recorded documentation. Many man hours within state agencies researching issues that should never have come before them to be dealt with. Conservation and environmental groups spending many hours and resources working to deflect the encroachment of greed driven corporate takeover of public lands and resources.  And the numerous conscientious volunteers who have spent their own time and money conducting research in order to provide the public with the facts of the project, facts that have not been presented clearly or in their entirety by the resort developers.

And what does anyone hope to gain from all of this? The Resort and their partners, CNL corporation of Orlando, Florida, expect to gain a lot. And the problem for the people of N.H. is that the vast majority of the profits will be headed south, leaving the State of New Hampshire.

Please take the time to verify what is written here:

1) Exhibit 99.1 Letter of Notice to Stockholders, from CNL Lifestyle Properties, Inc. of Orlando FL., September 12,2014.

2) Notice of Decision, NH Superior Court, Case No. 217-2007-EQ-00485, July 10, 2014

3) Lease and Operating Agreement between the State and Okemo Mt. Inc., Merrimack County Registry of Deeds, book 1203 page 0308

4) Resort operators threatened to sue the State of NH, $13-$14 million,  NH Union Leader, April 30, 2013

5) NH Attorney General response letter, October 23, 2014

6) Friends of Mount Sunapee at


David Brown

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