Back in November, it was announced that the new owners of Ski Maple Valley in Vermont are trying to turn the base lodge into a brewery and distillery with a tasting room that can fit 100 people. Unfortunately, the local government has made their ambitions less feasible. The Brattleboro Reformer reports that the plans have stalled due to the need for the Act 250 approval that is needed for large developments in the state of Vermont. The Vermont Fish and Wildlife and the Connecticut River Conservancy have asked the commission to only allow the new development to happen if the new owners restore “the parking lot as a riparian buffer to the West River.”
Environmentalists believe the parking lot gets too close to the river, as they believe there are three hundred and eighty acres where parking could be relocated to. On the other hand, the parking lot would only be used for a maximum of twenty-four days a year and as overflow parking for high-demand days. Getting rid of the overflow parking lot would mean people may have to park on Route 3, which has a high-speed limit. Another option could be excavating one of the old ski trails for parking, but this would cause damage to the landscape and thus the environment.
Another issue is a letter from the District 2 Commission that will require a sound study to get the project officially approved. As writer Bob Audette points out in the article, caring about the environment is important, but this excessive overreach imperils economic development in Vermont, which is needed outside of the major mountain towns.
Here are the details about their plans:
“The plan calls for a 1,900-square-foot distillery production area and a tasting room at 3,400 square feet. The facility is expected to employ 12 people working from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week and the tasting room and retail space are expected to be open from noon to 9 p.m. seven days a week. There will be space on-site for four food trucks, which will have access to electricity so gas generators won’t be needed.
Special events including live music are planned to be held in an area on the west side of the existing lodge building. The existing elevated deck will be removed and replaced with a ground-level patio to accommodate these events.”
Maple Valley operated as a ski area from 1963 to the 1999-2000 season. It featured sixteen trails, night skiing on eight trails, three lifts(two chairlifts and a t-bar), and snow tubing. The ski resort faced bankruptcy multiple times, and couldn’t keep up with local rivals. You can learn more about Ski Maple Valleys’ history on New England Ski History here.