High Ridge project gets Act 250 permit

MANCHESTER - The High Ridge redevelopment project has received its Act 250 permit. On Aug. 7 the permit was granted to allow a 98 room Hampton Inn and Suites, as well as three retail buildings.

In a statement, Kevin Mullaney, vice-president of Mullaney Hospitality Group said they were happy to receive all the needed permits.

"In meeting the requirements of the town plan, the High Ridge redevelopment project met and exceeded paring, green space and other specifications which further validates the quality and compliance of the redevelopment project," he said in a statement. "It will bring a revitalization to Manchester's core and provide stimulus to the local economy."

While both the Act 250 and Design and Development Review Board permits were granted, an appeal of the DRB permit is pending in state environmental court. The appeal was filed by Steve Bauer, owner of the Inn at Willow Pond.

According to Act 250 Findings of Facts and Conclusions of Law, Bauer attempted to seek party status by emailing the district coordinator on July 21. To be granted party status, good cause is required, the document states. Good cause, the document reads can be granted to a late petitioner if party status is requested in a timely fashion and will not unfairly delay the proceedings.

"Petitioner Stephen Bauer has not made an adequate showing of 'good cause' On the day of the hearing, June 26, Stephen Bauer alleges he was late returning to port at Old Saybrook, CT., due to a broken throttle on his fishing boat," the documents state. "He had planned to drive from Connecticut to Manchester by noon of that day. Our hearing was warned for 9:30 a.m. Stephen Bauer has not explained why he delayed 4 weeks before making contact with the District Commission. Nor has he explained why no one else from his group attended the hearing on June 26."

Bauer was denied party status for lack of good cause, the document states.

In an interview, Bauer said he was seeking party status because he had issues with the project concerning the town plan. He said he did not attend the meeting, nor did someone else from the group. Bauer said that he filed late because of a mix up in dates.

Throughout the permitting pro cess for this development, a common theme of concerns about traffic, the local economy and the potential disruption of natural beauty has been expressed. These concerns are also shared in Bau er's appeal. Specifically, he cites traffic and how the building will possibly block ridgeline views.

All these concerns were addressed in the finding of facts and conclusion of law.

"The project will generate 1,534 total one-way trips, with 100 AM peak hour trips and 174 PM peak hour trips," the findings state. "The estimated traffic from the new project will be 48 vehicle trip ends more than the previous traffic. Rte. 7A has the capacity to accommodate this additional traffic. The Commission concludes that the Project will not cause unreasonable congestion or unsafe conditions with respect to use of roads, highways and other existing or proposed means of transportation."

The findings also concluded that the project would have no adverse impact on the scenic or natural beauty of Manchester.

Finally, the Act 250 Commission used a 60 percent occupancy rate to find that the annual tax revenue will be approximately $1.53 million. This includes, income tax, sales tax, rooms and meals tax, as well as the property taxes associated with the project.

"The project will not cause an undue burden on the existing and potential financial capability of the town and the region to accommodate growth caused by the project," the document states.

Some of the other findings in the Act 250 document include information about potential reuse and recycling of waste from the demolition of the current buildings. In the application for the permit, it states 20 to 30 percent of all waste could be reused or recycled. The findings of fact state unpainted wood studding can be recycled, as well as concrete and asphalt pavement.


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