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Planning Board would hold special meeting on Balsams' dump site

May 09, 2012
COLEBROOK — "The Balsams Grand Resort's future is in jeopardy, following action by the Colebrook Planning Board on Tuesday, May 1," reads a prepared statement issued last week by Montagne Communications, the Resort's public relations firm.

The resort's new owners, Balsams View LLC, owned by Colebrook natives Dan Hebert and Dan Dagesse, complained that it was forced to place the resort's multi-million-dollar renovation project on hold indefinitely after the Board's did not approve a subdivision plan that it believes is essential for the project to move forward.

Although three of the proposed subdivision plans were approved, the Board continued its hearing on the fourth subdivision until its June 5 meeting.

"By not approving the subdivision in Colebrook, the Board has delayed key project elements by at least a month — including financing — and the project's ability to begin demolition and construction on schedule," the press release reads.

"Given the North Country's short construction season, this delay will cost Balsams View, LLC, hundreds of thousands of dollars and could stop the project permanently," the press release states.

The May 12 auction, however, had already pushed back the start of demolition from May 1 to May 14, wrote architect Michael Couture of North Conway in an e-mail exchange.

The Colebrook Planning Board would be very willing to call a special meeting, at whatever time the information it has asked for becomes available regarding the old one-acre municipal dump and the Tillotson rubber plant disposal area, explained Planning Board chairman David Brooks in a Monday afternoon telephone interview.

"We would have to notice the meeting again, put ads in newspapers, and notify all abutters," Brooks explained.

It was not until two days after last week's meeting that surveyor Andrew Nadeau of Horizons Engineering of Littleton received a written list of 10 items or questions for which the Board would like to have answers, he said in a Sunday afternoon interview. Although the Board asked for more information about the site, no list was actually made at the April pre-conceptual plan meeting.

Brooks pointed out, however, that the Board was assured that Jon Warzocha, Horizon's environmental expert, would be on hand at the May 1 meeting but that he had not been on hand.

Nadeau had a meeting on Monday with NHDES specialists familiar with whatever monitoring records are available in its files.

These kinds of miscommunications and misunderstandings, although very unfortunate, are not uncommon, Nadeau said, adding that he expects that the process will get back on track. Conditions can and often are attached to subdivision approvals, he said.

Brooks explained that he and other Planning Board members are doing their job of protecting the town of Colebrook from any unforeseen expenses or liability.

There are no hidden agendas and no ill will either toward the new owners or the old former one. Brooks noted that since he had retired from the military six years ago he has driven the shuttle bus from the historic hotel to the Wilderness Ski Area, making him as eager as anyone to be able to return to work at The Balsams in Dixville Notch.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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