Middlefield's Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Agency on Friday approved a request from Powder Ridge Mountain Park and Resort to dredge and expand the pond at the ski area.
The request was approved unanimously just two days after the agency held a lengthy publc hearing on the application that included a petition of intervention filed by a local resident in an attempt to stop the agency from approving the request.
At the Feb. 20 hearing, Matthew Sanford, a professional soil scientist working on behalf of Powder Ridge, said dredging and expanding the pond would allow the ski area to double its water capacity for snowmaking from four million to eight million gallons.
In addition, Powder Ridge managing director Sean Hayes argued that the company had no reasonable alternative to delivering water for snowmaking.
"This pond was made, designed for, engineered for making snow," Hayes said.
Several members of the commission and the audience also argued that deepening the pond would benefit Lake Beseck by serving as a sediment pond for the lake.
"Here's a win-win situation because this particular pond is absolutely ideal solution, it's the ideal location," said resident Dick Boynton, who serves on the Lake Beseck Environment Committee. "So by deepening this we're accomplishing something that we were thinking we were going to have to raise a lot of money for."
Sanford said the pond had last been dredged in 1997, under approval from IWWA.
On Feb. 15, Middlefield resident Marianne Corona filed a petition of intervention that argued, among other things, that dredging the pond "would unreasonably pollute, impair and/or destroy the public trust in its wetlands and water."
"There needs to be a plan put together... for what's going to happen around the perimeter of the pond. These are important issues to make this place a success," said Corona, a former IWWA member.
"Mr. Hayes bought it, I want him to be a success," she added.
But following Corona's comments, IWWA members decided that her petition of intervention did not provide enough evidence to prevent the agency from voting on the application.
In granting approval on Friday, the agency also gave Powder Ridge permission to install a pedestrian bridge over wetlands on the property.
Hayes, who plans to open the ski area in December, has said he hopes to begin the work on expanding the pond before spring.
He'll seek a similar approval from the town's Planning and Zoning Commission next week.