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MANCHESTER — A controversial development at the end of Benson Road in Manchester cropped up Tuesday as the Select Board took a look at a proposed agreement to make improvements to Benson Road. The proposed development at Boorn Brook Farm, which is owned by owned by Jeffrey Nyweide, was hotly contested throughout much of 2020 by neighbors and others who don’t think the planned expansion of the farm into an “eco-resort” is a good idea for the neighborhood or Manchester in general. The planned development is a 46-bed resort, which received a permit from the Development Review Board. That is being challenged, as is the project’s Act 250 permit. At Tuesday’s Select Board meeting, the only thing on the agenda was a planned agreement between the town, which owns the road and said it must be widened and paved if the resort is actually built, and the developer, which has agreed to do so to the tune of $90,000, creating the need for the agreement. But it was clear right away that the battles from last summer are not over even. Several of those who spoke are residents of the road and members of the family that gave the road its name. Brian Benson, who along with his wife Susan, live on the road and Brian asked why the town was getting involved in the paving and construction of the road and why was the town overseeing the project? Donna and John Benson had the same question. “When did Manchester become a contractor?” Donna Benson asked. “I don’t think the town of Manchester should be involved in this. Do the taxpayers know this is all going on. If I want my driveway paved can I ask the town to do it?” Select Board chair Ivan Beattie told the Bensons that the difference is that the town owns the road. It’s not a private road owned by the private landowner and it was the town requesting the work be done. “What we’re talking about is a town-owned road,” Beattie said. “The town has to do it because we are the owner. We’re asking them to pay for the improvement to the town-owned road.” Brian Benson had a host of concerns ranging from the width of the right-of-way, the thickness of the asphalt, who would pay for cost overruns and the intersection of where the Lybrook Trail access road, which he said is dangerous and overrun with traffic during hiking season. Town Manager John O’Keefe said the town was in conversation with the Forest Service about that part of things but Beattie said it didn’t have anything to do with the agreement they were discussing. Brian Benson said he thought the town was being negligent. “This is just a lot bigger than grading the road, widening it and slapping some asphalt down,” Brian Benson said. “It’s a little bit like the wild, wild west up here.” Mike Nawrath expressed a lengthy list of concerns with the agreement some of which drew the interest of the board. Beattie asked Nawrath to send his list along and the town would look into some of his questions and use them to improvement the agreement, which, the town and board agreed was a first-look, not a final version. “This is our first look at this as a board,” Beattie said. “There have been some very good comments. Some of them will make their way into the final agreement.” But the discussion, which went on for just under an hour, had local businessman Bill Drunsic questioning the process. “This was all hashed and rehashed at the DRB level,” Drunsic said. “The town granted a permit after listening to all these issues at that level and I’m wondering why the town has to go through this again.” Beattie said he understood Drunsic’s frustration, but Beattie pointed out the Select Board and DRB have different responsibilities and he’s always willing to listen to concerns. “While we are aware of the issues brought up in the permitting process we weren’t involved in that conversation,” Beattie said. “It’s entirely appropriate for any of the abutters or anybody else in town to make comments in a public meeting relative to a proposed agreement. This is the first time this board has heard any of these comments in a meeting. I encourage people to participate and I certainly want to give them the courtesy of listening to what they’re concerned about.” The issue was not acted upon and will come up again at a future meeting.

Darren Marcy

Manchester Journal

MANCHESTER — A controversial development at the end of Benson Road in Manchester cropped up Tuesday as the Select Board took a look at a proposed agreement to make improvements to Benson Road. The proposed development at Boorn Brook Farm, which is owned by owned by Jeffrey Nyweide, was hotly contested throughout much of 2020 by neighbors and others who don’t think the planned expansion of the farm into an “eco-resort” is a good idea for the neighborhood or Manchester in general. The planned development is a 46-bed resort, which received a permit from the Development Review Board. That is being challenged, as is the project’s Act 250 permit. At Tuesday’s Select Board meeting, the only thing on the agenda was a planned agreement between the town, which owns the road and said it must be widened and paved if the resort is actually built, and the developer, which has agreed to do so to the tune of $90,000, creating the need for the agreement. But it was clear right away that the battles from last summer are not over even. Several of those who spoke are residents of the road and members of the family that gave the road its name. Brian Benson, who along with his wife Susan, live on the road and Brian asked why the town was getting involved in the paving and construction of the road and why was the town overseeing the project? Donna and John Benson had the same question. “When did Manchester become a contractor?” Donna Benson asked. “I don’t think the town of Manchester should be involved in this. Do the taxpayers know this is all going on. If I want my driveway paved can I ask the town to do it?” Select Board chair Ivan Beattie told the Bensons that the difference is that the town owns the road. It’s not a private road owned by theprivate landowner and it was the town requesting the work be done. “What we’re talking about is a town-owned road,” Beattie said. “The town has to do it because we are the owner. We’re asking them to pay for the improvement to the town-owned road.” Brian Benson had a host of concerns ranging from the width of the right-of-way, the thickness of the asphalt, who would pay for cost overruns and the intersection of where the Lybrook Trail access road, which he said is dangerous and overrun with traffic during hiking season. Town Manager John O’Keefe said the town was in conversation with the Forest Service about that part of things but Beattie said it didn’t have anything to do with the agreement they were discussing. Brian Benson said he thought the town was being negligent. “This is just a lot bigger than grading the road, widening it and slapping some asphalt down,” Brian Benson said. “It’s a little bit like the wild, wild west up here.” Mike Nawrath expressed a lengthy list of concerns with the agreement some of which drew the interest of the board. Beattie asked Nawrath to send his list along and the town would look into some of his questions and use them to improvement the agreement, which, the town and board agreed was a first-look, not a final version. “This is our first look at this as a board,” Beattie said. “There have been some very good comments. Some of them will make their way into the final agreement.” But the discussion, which went on for just under an hour, had local businessman Bill Drunsic questioning the process. “This was all hashed and rehashed at the DRB level,” Drunsic said. “The town granted a permit after listening to all these issues at that level and I’m wondering why the town has to go through this again.” Beattie said he understood Drunsic’s frustration, but Beattie pointed out the Select Board and DRB have different responsibilities and he’s always willing to listen to concerns. “While we are aware of the issues brought up in the permitting process we weren’t involved in that conversation,” Beattie said. “It’s entirely appropriate for any of the abutters or anybody else in town to make comments in a public meeting relative to a proposed agreement.

This is the first time this board has heard any of these comments in a meeting. I encourage people to participate and I certainly want to give them the courtesy of listening to what they’re concerned about.” The issue was not acted upon and will come up again at a future meeting.

Contact Darren Marcy at dmarcy@manchesterjournal.com or by cell at 802-681-6534.

Contact Darren Marcy at dmarcy@manchesterjournal.com or by cell at 802-681-6534.


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