Will constraints on Maple Valley Ski Area redevelopment lead to unintended consequences?
The main lodge at Maple Valley Ski Area in West Dummerston.

Will constraints on Maple Valley Ski Area redevelopment lead to unintended consequences?

BRATTLEBORO — Vermont's Act 250 showed up at the same time I showed up in Dummerston.

Vermont is my dream location for many reasons. At the top of my list is that you can personally meet the governor, unlike living in New York. Thanks to the small-town aspect of living in Vermont, where I may have a voice, I became fixated with unintended consequences - when I or others make decisions that affect my neighbors - and I have identified three outcomes that illustrate the unintended consequences of decision-making: an unexpected benefit, an unexpected drawback that still made the decision the best one overall, and the wrong decision.

One of my first items that made it to my unintended consequences list was Act 250, which specifically allows neighbors and other interested parties to participate in the development review process. I labelled it an unexpected benefit of coming to Vermont.

The second item came as I was standing in my front yard when a truck driver of an 18-wheeler asked for directions to Route 30. I felt confident that I could give him the shortest route, which included the covered bridge.

Fifteen minutes later, the driver passed my house from the other direction. I did not realize the height limitations of the bridge, which he could not cross. I labelled this an unexpected drawback of trying to be helpful.

I spent many years taking my family to the Maple Valley Ski Area going through the covered bridge. I also loved the parking area next to the river. Maple Valley was very much part of the neighborhood that I chose. But over time, less snow created a financial challenge for the owners. It was a sad journey into the future.

Then, in 2018, Sugar Mountain Holdings bought the property and started the permitting process. It appeared that they turned the corner in the right direction. In December of 2019, the town's Development Review Board approved their plan, and the next step was the Act 250 permit process.

Now it's almost three years later and, on Nov. 8, the District 2 Act 250 Commission granted to Sugar Mountain Holdings a permit. But the permit prohibits outdoor music as well as the use of my favorite parking lot, conditions that may be critical to the financial survival of the company.

Apparently, they did not check with the neighbors.

I have added this example to my list of negative unintended consequences. The Commission needs to correct this. Otherwise, there may be unintended consequences for those who created the rules of Act 250 and those on the Commission who do not follow them.

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