No Decision Yet from Middlefield PZC on Powder Ridge

The commission has extended a public hearing on the town's request to split off 20 acres from the 246-acre property.


Middlefield's Planning and Zoning Commission has delayed a decision on whether to approve a request by the town to split off a 20-acre parcel from the Powder Ridge property. 

On May 23, the commission held a public hearing on the town's application, which, if approved, would separate the property by creating an "interior lot."

At the start of the hearing, PZC chairman Robert Johnson reminded the public in attendance as well as commission members that the commission was responsible only for determining whether the application met the town's regulations.

"This is not a discussion about the sale of the property and we won't be entertaining discussions about the sale of the property," Johnson said.

But, on several occasions, commission member William Waff questioned the motivation behind the town's request to separate the property. 

"The application to create an interior lot submitted by the First Selectman [Jon Brayshaw] is inappropriate and premature," Waff said, reading from a letter he'd written. "It is not the First Selectman’s position to initiate this action. In fact, it is not the decision of any commission to initiate this action. It is a decision to be made by the people of Middlefield."

Read Waff's full statement and First Selectmam Jon Brayshaw's talking points in the attached PDF

In February, the town announced that Sean Hayes of Brownstone Exploration and Discovery Park , minus the 20-acre parcel. 

Brayshaw told the commission the property should be divided in order to give "the citizens control over its final use." The 20-acres is more valuable to the town because of its proximity to the road and would not be useful in the operation of a ski area, he said. 

Brayshaw's statements prompted Waff to ask him whether anyone from the public had asked to divide the property.

"The truth of the matter is if we can sell Powder Ridge and maintain that area in the blue, why wouldn't that be a win-win-win for the town and for everyone concerned," Brayshaw said. "It's not as though we're giving it away."

Waff said he planned to vote against the town's request.

No vote was taken however, and the commission agreed to extended the public hearing at a special meeting on June 6.

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Just my opinion May 29, 2012 at 10:49 AM
Create an interior lot. Is there any access or permanent easement if not then you create a land lock which equals a win win for the person purchasing the ski are. If there is not a permanent 50 foot easement to the property it is useless. I say referendum should be held. who will end up with the land that is being separated who will actually benefit from the small parcel? I see a black wall when it comes to getting questions answered. I am so tired of this I just wish we had followed through with what the original referendum was voted. I can't understand how a vote can be changed without another vote. I strongly suggest that what ever is prompting this be made open for all to know. I do not support any of this because I feel I am being deceived.
Fed Up May 29, 2012 at 12:01 PM
You should pay attention, and do a little research before you give your"opinion". The lot runs along Powder Hill Rd. You see a "black wall" getting questions answered?? Have you been to the Selectman's office asking questions? I have. The map is available at the town hall for all to view. This is " just my opinion", but you obviously don't really know what you're talking about.
Just my opinion May 29, 2012 at 02:07 PM
I see no reason " Fed Up" to be so upset unless you are among those who feel it is the best option for the town out there. After reading the article you tell me where easements have been made note of. There is nothing. As far as being 100 percent informed we are NOT!!!!! I voted against this from the get go. I feel we are spending tax money to save land that wouldn't have needed saving if we hadn't fought the initial business owner tooth and nail to not be allowed to do exactly what we are allowing someone to come in and do. do the people in the area of Powder Ridge still feel the same about the traffic and people who will be coming in to use the area? If so is there any guarantee this won't end up in a court battle for years to come.? I say no there isn't and I don't want to see it happen . What as a town can we guarantee this purchaser he can do without any legal battles? Like I said we need to do what is best for our town.
Fed Up May 29, 2012 at 02:46 PM
You are partially correct. I absolutely do feel that this is a great fit for our town. What really bothers me though, is when people make statements that just are not factual. Or when I read that someone from our EDC does not see the value to surrounding business from Powder Ridge, ask Loyd's how Powder Ridge effected him when they closed. Or when EDC makes a statement like, Sean Hayes made no, or small capital investment in Portland. Perfect! If he is successful with little nvestment, perfect! The negative effect a small group has is sad. It is making Middlefield look unfriendly. Hide behind statenments like " I just want the best" or whatever you want. It's all the same, negative.
Concerned May 29, 2012 at 03:52 PM
It seems to me that this interior lot breakoff is intended to benefit the Budding Rose Realty co, and their access to the property commonly known as the 'Green Forty'. Mr. Brayshaw has made several attempts over the past few years to get them legal access to this piece of land. The fact that Budding Rose bought a landlocked piece of property is not the Town of Middlefield's problem. There is no law that requires the town to give them access. Currently the only way for them to legally access this piece is to hike in from the King Property. They suggested a couple of years ago, that the Town grant them an access road through the King Property. Then they tried to get the Nerden Camp to grant them access. Why can't Mr. Hayes operate the ski area with the slope area, and leave to the Town the Hundred acres +/- that we would have enjoyed as open space if the original plans and agreements with Robert Switzgable had come to fruition. That is what sold the Townspeople on buying Powder Ridge, and now after spending $4Million, we still have no viable plan in place.
Fed Up May 29, 2012 at 04:14 PM
I guess I must be missing somethnig. Sure seems to me like Brownstones plan is extremely viable. As to why can't Mr. Hayes just use the slope section? How would I know, I guess he wants to use more area. Why do we keep spending more money on Powder Ridge? Because Middlefield does not appear to be a business friendly town, and we keep running people off. There are too many of you going against our selectman, using Powder Ridge as an excuse, and it sure appears from the outside to be very political. I'm not sure that's how you want it to look ( although, I'm pretty sure I do know) but it sure doesn't appear that you have the towns best interest in mind. Say what you want, your little group is doing everything that you can to be negative, and it's all political. Fortunately for the rest of us, none of you realize how bad you are making yourselves look. I'm just not smart enough to sit back and watch you all self destruct.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT May 29, 2012 at 05:20 PM
What plan? It is a vision. We need to see a viable business plan from Brownstone. Alpine handed a business plan to Jon Brayshaw during their first meeting back in 2008. What is Hayes afraid of?
Cindy May 30, 2012 at 03:07 AM
What on earth are you talking about?! Sean has shared his business plan over and over and over again at town meetings and 3 meet and greets! Have you been to any of them? Nobody is hiding anything! There is no "secret agenda". There is no "black wall". You and your little group of negative people make it your goal in life to block any deal to reopen Powder Ridge in any way you can. Now you are trying to delay things by giving P&Z a hard time about approving something that makes total sense. A referendum? Really? Do you realize that Sean Hayes wanted to start construction this summer? Actually I think you do know that, and that is part of your strategy.... to create delays upon delays so he will run out of time and pull out of the deal. And then what? Then we have nothing. Just a run down old ski area that we are paying for with no taxes coming in, the loss of the state grant, with no successful business that would benefit the town and surrounding area in so many ways. Why are you doing this? 95% of the people in this town want Sean Hayes to succeed. How sad that you continue your fight against anyone who wants to open Powder Ridge. It is truly pathetic. Please just quit being so selfish and political and stop all this nonsense. We need to get this deal done asap for the sake of the town.
Fed Up May 30, 2012 at 10:35 AM
Thank you Cindy! Finally someone with no political agenda speaking out. One of the biggest problems we have right now is that so many people are in favor, and think it is such a no brainer, that they think it will just happen, so they are sitting idle. They are content with the deal because it makes sense. It makes me sad that a P&Z board member ( Mr. Waff) can be the very first one to speak out during this meeting, and go directly against what the Chairman told everyone they were there for, and can openly state that he is going to vote against it, and no one talks about that. Mr. Waff was very unprofessional, and it reflected poorly on the entire board.
Concerned May 30, 2012 at 05:31 PM
To 'FED UP & Cindy': I am not part of any group, and I certainly have no political agenda...just a taxpayer in this burgh. It's Mr. Brayshaw who has been running the various parties out of town. Read through the minutes of the BOS, and you will see that he has been apparently misleading the various interested parties and the townspeople. This project has been mishandled from the start, and while I have nothing against Mr. Hayes, I don't think his vision - because there is no written plan that has been diseminated to the public, was what was voted on oh so long ago. The people seem to have forgotten that we were initially meant to keep over 100 acres as open space, not 20 acres, that it appears will be sold too. I was taken aback to hear that Mr. Hayes said at one of his 'meet & greats' that one of his investors is very interested in building a home up there. This raises all kinds of questions, that we are not to discuss, primarily : If Mr. Hayes buys the property and fails, the remedy for the town is to buy back the property. If they build their allowed houses for "managers and Key employees" how is the town to afford that? I see it as a land grab, they build their 4-5-6 houses that will be allowed, fail at the ski area and the town will not be able to afford to repurchase. Net result? Mr Hayes & Co., get their own little private paradise on 226 acres, Where is the site plan for the septic system? and the DEEP signoff? they are under consent orders.
Fed Up May 30, 2012 at 05:57 PM
What?! Alpine had the exact same deal with being allowed to build houses. I was also standing next to Mr. Hayes when he commented about building a house on the property, so what? Dennis was planning the same thing! As for Mr Brayshaw running other parties out of town, I have also been told by certain people ( that you know) in town that they were part of the group that assisted in running them out. You're not part of any group??!! Are you kiddng me? I watched your ridiculous performance in the Gym at Memorial School, recall this? "oh, I'm out of time? Oh Donna, I'm out of time!" Please! Nice try! More politics.
Cindy May 31, 2012 at 03:45 AM
If this deal falls through, then what? Do you think someone else is going to come along and want to revitalize Powder Ridge? You r negative group keeps suggesting there is some better deal out there. Most ski operators contacted said they would not take it for free! We are lucky to have someone who is interested and committed to bringing Powder Ridge back. This is our last chance! There are always risks when you do something like this, but I don't believe Mr. Hayes will fail as you suggest. I think the deal is sound; the best we have had yet. Why all the negativity? I just don't understand it. Why would you and your group not want this to work for the good of the town? This is a win-win for all! I am quite sure that if this goes to a vote (and it will once all the details are worked out hopefully) the vast majority of people in town will support selling the property to Mr. Hayes just like they did last time with Alpine. How sad that we have people who have always been against any deal sitting on our P&Z board. Thank you for your support Fed Up and let's try and get others involved who support Mr. Hayes' plan. How sad that this negative group just sent out another anti-Brownstone flyer and is writing letters to the editor against Brayshaw in the Hartford Courant even. It is just disgusting. I am sure Mr. Hayes did not encounter this in Portland. I hope he knows that this group is in the minority. If you know who I am Fed Up feel free to call me.
Reg May 31, 2012 at 10:29 AM
Actually, the Alpine deal had no deal to build houses of any type. The interested party Dennis and Rick had attracted were concerned that the deal would not be feasible without some other type of ‘attraction’ AND was investigating whether or not some type of real estate component was permissible/feasible with the town when Apollo Consulting were 'informed' they had 48 hours to make a go-no-go decision because another offer was on the table. The town was tired of waiting. In truth it looks like this was little more than a scare tactic meant to move Apollo Consulting out of the picture. Too bad as I understand the outside investor spent a lot of time investigating options for the site which would see it fully integrated with the town and surrounding golf sites. I understand they were even in discussions with travel sites in Boston and New York to wrap it in a daylong event using rail.
Fed Up May 31, 2012 at 11:26 AM
Reg. Actually,the Alpine deal had a provision to build 4 houses. Brownstones plan that " no one knows about" is awesome.If you look at the people that are trying to discourage this deal, it is all of the same group that goes against anything this administration tries to support. One of them even went as far as to run a petition on Patch, once that failed, she wrote to the Hartford Courant, and lied about Brayshaw trying to slow this deal down with P/Z. I was there, she and a few others tried to do everything they could to create confusion around this. They complain that Sean doesn't need all of the property, and there is no open space...Alpine was purchasing ALL of the property. Be very careful about the "facts " that you repeat. Do some research of your own. This is a good deal, and Brownstone will be a good neighbor.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT May 31, 2012 at 02:44 PM
The Sales Agreement with Alpine allowed for only two(2) houses not four (4). Alpine agreed to reduced the number from seven (7) to two (2). This can be found in Schedule B Declaration of Development and Timber Removal, Section 1) of the sales agreement which can still be obtained at the Town Office. Some voters who spoke with Alpine after the vote back in May 2011 came away knowing that Alpine had no plans to build any housing. These guys were experienced ski area operators. The written business plan I saw was detailed with an emphasis on winter operations only. If you remember when ask about off-season activities during the town meeting Mr Abplanalp stated that the focus would be to bring back Powder Ridge to a ski, snowboard and snow tubing business first and foremost. Sometime down the road Alpine would consider other recreational activities during the summer months. Alpine was prepaid to spend over $14m and the town just couldn't close the deal. They were fed up with the delays and walked away. Someone should try to get them back. P.S. I realize some of us are passionate about Powder Ridge, it's future and making sure an experienced buyer is found. I am not sure Mr. Hayes and his group is the match we need. The town deserves a written business plan to evaluate. I do wish him the best moving forward.
Cindy June 05, 2012 at 01:57 AM
The same thing is happening all over again with delays. Hopefully Sean Hayes will not get fed up and walk away too. Alpine would never come back at this point. As far as Mr. Hayes not being the "match we need" where exactly do you think we are going to find this "perfect match?" I think his plan is fantastic and I agree with Fed Up that he will be a good neighbor. Let's get this deal done!


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