Balsams Resort hopes to avoid obstacle in road to redevelopment; Coos County Commissioners ask state to review turbine safety rules
In an effort to help redevelop The Balsams into a world class resort, the Coos County Commissioners have written the state about reviewing its wind turbine safety boundaries.
Brookfield Renewables of Quebec operates Granite Reliable Power Wind Park, with 33 turbines in the surrounding areas of Dixville Notch.
Those mountains could also be used to develop a ski resort four times the size of the existing but now closed Wilderness Ski Area.
Coos County Commissioner Paul Grenier met with a team working to redevelop the Balsams, and they gave him a glimpse at Phase 1 development, which apparently focuses on greatly expanding ski opportunities in Dixville Notch.
Ski resort developer and entrepreneur Les Otten has joined with North Country businessmen Dan Dagesse and Dan Hebert to “establish a viable path forward for the redevelopment of the Balsams.”
“The opportunities at the Balsams are significant,” Otten said when announcing his involvement this winter.
“There are few recreation sites in North America that have such strong potential for visitors over all seasons. There’s a relatively short time table for moving forward and many hurdles to clear, but preliminary discussions are promising.”
This week, Otten declined through his spokesman Skip King to elaborate on his plan, but clearly one of the “hurdles” is the turbine setback issue.
The letter states the “Balsams View has assured the commission that the 500 to 1,000 foot buffers as outlined in the lease agreements would provide more than adequate safety for skiers and lifts near the turbines” rather than 1,300 feet which is in another permitting document.
The wind company has not yet chimed in, but turbines often have public access boundaries to protect people from ice thrown from the blades.
“The Commission believes the limits set forth in the safety and access plan should be modified to align with lease conditions of 500 feet and 1,000 feet under certain icing conditions.”
Grenier said no date has yet been set by the state for a hearing on the subject, and Michael Iacoppino, attorney for the SEC said he was not yet aware of the request, in an email Wednesday.
The commissioners urged the SEC to make the modification noting it “would allow a proposed resort redevelopment plan from Balsams View LLC to proceed towards permitting review. Leaving the 1,300-foot buffer would create an obstacle that would jeopardize the project and thousands of jobs and economic opportunity it would bring to Coos County,” they wrote.
“We also strongly encourage GRP as a good corporate citizen of Coos County to engage Balsams View’s development team in discussions on how both parties can work together to help the resort development proceed and exist in harmony with GRP, for the betterment of New Hampshire’s entire North Country,” the commissioners’ letter concludes.
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