Editor's note: This is the third article in
a series on the new Act 250 permits issued Oct. 7 for Phase 1 of
Killington Village. The previous two articles by Lorentz covered
the details of each permit, this week she gets reactions on
conditions and timelines from those close to the projects.
KILLINGTON - The District #1 Environmental Commission recently
issued permits to SP Land Company for Phase I of the Killington
Village Master Plan and to Killington/Pico Ski Resort Partners
Resort for the Resort Parking Project that also included various
infrastructure projects. Both permits were issued with several
conditions in addition to the general conditions that usually
accompany construction permits.
Mike Solimano, president and general manager of Killington and
Pico, was asked to comment on two conditions of the Resort permit,
one of which differed from the Resort's original request for a
10-year construction period by imposing a 5-year period.
The condition stipulates that, "The permit shall expire five
years from the date of issuance if the Permittee has not commenced
construction and made substantial progress toward completion within
the five year period." It further states, "All site work and
construction shall be completed in accordance with the approved
plans by October 15, 2020, unless an extension of this date is
approved in writing by the Commission."
Solimano indicated that this was not a problem for the Resort,
explaining that, "Generally, extension of Act 250 permits -
especially the first one - are fairly standard." [A provision
in the permit provides that extension "approval may be granted
without public hearing."]
Asked about the expense and effort that must be undertaken
regarding a study of a sawdust pile (a "condition" of the Act 250
permit), Solimano noted that this was not a problem. "The
"Phase II" analysis for the Sawdust Pile is not that expensive, and
the consultant does not expect to find anything of major importance
that would delay us moving forward," he said.
Regarding a timetable for the Resort Parking Project (the permit
includes approvals for: a new day-skier parking lot for 1,276
vehicles; realignment of a portion of Killington Road;
reconfiguration of the Grand Hotel Parking Lot; a stormwater
detention pond, and associated utilities), Solimano commented:
"Similar to the Killington Road work and some other utility work,
it would be good to get the construction of the Resort Parking
Project done a year before construction commences on Phase I
buildings. The key word is one year before. Since Phase I doesn't
yet have a timetable, we can't offer a timetable for the Resort
Asked to comment on the permit overall, Solimano said, "We are
pleased that we have reached this point in the process. We are
cautiously optimistic. The Resort's Parking Project permit is
relatively straightforward and workable. We don't foresee
anyadditional issues at this point in time."
Killington Village Permit Reaction
When asked about the Village Master Plan Permit, attorney David
Rosenblum who is also chairman of the Killington Planning
Commission said that he sees "two conditions in the permit, which
don't seem to be supported by the evidence."
One concerns a requirement that houses built on the lots in the
Ramshead Brook Subdivision must have sprinkler systems. Noting that
he thinks "authority for such a requirement may rest with Vermont
Department of Fire Safety," Rosenblum raised a further issue of
"Given the likelihood of electric power being lost in winter,
what good is the system if there's no electric to drive the pumps
and water? It could therefore be an unreasonable demand," he
He also questioned "where the water supply would come from as
there is no municipal system to feed the project" and noted the
potential for damage from a freeze up.
Given such considerations, Rosenblum stated, "While this may
appear to be a good idea, I am not convinced that this is a
practical requirement nor that it will work as intended."
Rosenblum also took exception to the requirements imposed on SP
Land Company for future traffic studies and mitigation, noting he
finds the conditions "horrendous."
"It is too large a geographical area and puts too much
responsibility on the developer; that responsibility really belongs
with the state Agency of Transportation (VTrans) which has
jurisdiction over the roads," he stated.
"The conditions also overlook the substantial tax revenues the
development will bring in that could fund the studies and any
needed improvements," Rosenblum added, noting the gasoline tax is
but one that is used to improve roads.
He cited "property transfer tax revenues (1.25 percent of the
purchase price of a residence)" as bringing in millions of dollars
to the state. "A percentage of that is supposed to go for planning
costs, so the revenues that the sale of Village units will bring in
could provide the funds needed for studies and any necessary
improvements. Accordingly, the requirements imposed on SP Land seem
counter productive," he stated.
[With the estimated Phase I project cost at over $100 million,
sales prices of units would have to be higher (to cover costs) and
therefore property transfer taxes would generate more than $1
million in tax revenues. Additionally, ongoing property transfer
taxes from sales of other properties in town would add to that
amount and result in considerable sums that could be used for
studies and improvements.]
Another issue Rosenblum sees concerns traffic impacts. "In the
days of peak visits when the Resort was still growing skier visits,
our region planned for traffic impacts. Rutland County prepared for
increased traffic back in the 1970s and 1980s; Route 4 south of
Rutland became a divided highway [the "bypass" route] and
improvements were made on Route 7 as well as on Route 4 from
Rutland to Killington.
"Improvements were made that enabled us to handle at least one
million skier visits, but they are actually less now.
"I question if the others, the two regional planning commissions
that cover Woodstock and Ludlow, did the same. Yet, Okemo had major
increase in visits (about fourfold) and generated more traffic, but
the routes to the highways that serve Okemo skiers were not
"They generated more traffic; but what we will generate will not
exceed anything that was handled in the past so why should any
burden be put on SP Land to pay for studies and improvements for
"That is the nexus of my problem with the permit requiring
payment for studies and mitigation, especially given this is a
legitimate purpose of government," Rosenblum concluded. [The permit
stipulates that the 50-percent public funding portion of the study
will be paid by the three regional planning commissions and VTrans
but that SP Land pays 100 percent of the private portion of funding
in the three-region area.]
Asked about Rosenblum's comments, SP Land President Steve Selbo
said he agreed with him, noting that he had "objected to the terms
for payment of the traffic studies as well as the open-ended
mitigation costs for traffic impacts all the way to I-89 and I-91
[during the hearings]. That remains problematic for SP Land," he
But as for any plans to appeal the permit, Selbo said, "We are
still studying the permit - the findings of fact, conclusions of
law, and conditions. We're analyzing them to see if we can make the
Village Master Plan project work within that framework," thus no
decision as to an appeal had been reached, he noted.
There are two provisions for a party to appeal an Act 250 permit.
One specifies that: "Any party may file a motion to alter with the
District Commission within 15 days from the date of this decision .
. . " [The rules state that "All requested alterations must be
based on a proposed reconsideration of the existing record."]
Attorney Jon Readnour, who is familiar with the Act 250 process,
explained that the provision to alter enables a party to point out
an error or reason something should be changed. It could be a legal
error or misunderstanding of a fact. The filing to alter gives the
district commission an opportunity to reconsider something based on
the existing record, whether it concerned a factual error or
misinterpretation, he noted.
Bill Burke, District #1 Environmental Commission Co-ordinator,
said that if any such filings are received, they become public
information as soon as received. At press time (Oct. 21) no one had
filed such a motion (for the Oct. 22 deadline).
A second Act 250 provision states: "Any appeal of this decision
must be filed with the Superior Court, Environmental Division
within 30 days of the date the decision was issued."
Should any appeal(s) be received by Nov. 6, the Superior Court's
Environmental Division would have to consider the appeal on its
merits, Readnour noted. The Environmental Division will generally
hear any appeal that is timely filed and based upon legitimate
grounds. However, the Environmental Division would hear the appeal
de novo, meaning they would hear the case over again on the issues
that were filed by the appellant. They could also conduct site
visits to assist in rendering a decision. (Although this court is
located in Barre, they often hold hearings locally.)
The Environmental Division could uphold a permit in its entirety
or modify it to address the issues raised in the appeal; it could
also send it back to the District Environmental Commission, but
that seems to be a rare occurrence, Readnour noted.
A party could also appeal the Environmental Division's decision
to the state's Supreme Court within 30 days; however, the Supreme
Court does not hear the case de novo.
Appeals are expensive and time consuming and would delay plans for
If there are no appeals, the next step for SP Land Company will
be to look for a qualified developer(s) to build Phase I. The
developer could be a joint-venture partner with SP Land or could
purchase land and proceed independently.
In the meantime, SP Land is seeking an updated approval for its
PUD Conceptual Master Plan approval (see page 2) in
accordance with 2012 Town Zoning Bylaw changes.
SP Land will go back to the Town of Killington with specific
plans for Phase I buildings to get final construction approvals
when ready to start the project. Similarly, the Ramshead Brook
Subdivision homes will require additional information in the form
of an addendum to the Act 250 permit.
For the aforementioned reasons, it is impossible for Selbo to
give a specific timetable for Village construction or even when the
Resort's Parking Project might be started. He remains "cautiously
optimistic," however, that progress will continue to be made.