Court Rules in Sunapee's Favor [Updated]
SAM Magazine—Concord, N.H., July 12, 2014 (updated July 16, 2014)—After a seven-year court battle, on Friday a state judge agreed with the operators of Mount Sunapee Resort that its leasehold boundary is the same as the state park’s north and west boundaries, as the resort has claimed. Sunapee can now consider terrain expansion options within this 175-acre portion of its leasehold and on 656 acres of adjacent land owned by the resort.
Sunapee officials have long argued that their 1998 lease extended to the edge of the state park, and the court agreed. “The plaintiff has provided clear and convincing evidence that the parties agreed that the northern and western boundaries would be coterminous with the state park boundary and that they agreed to put it in writing,” the judge wrote. “There is variance between the parties’ agreement and the writing because the state did not draw the metes and bounds survey to conform to the parties’ intentions.”
“We are pleased that the Court has acknowledged and confirmed those property rights that were agreed to when we signed the Lease Agreement in April of 1998,” said Tim Mueller, president of Mount Sunapee. The state has not said whether it will appeal.
The state, under former Governor John Lynch, fought the broader interpretation of the lease agreement, claiming that the disputed terrain abuts private property owned by the leaseholders, and that the state should not allow private enterprise to benefit from state lands. However, Mount Sunapee had purchased the private lands in the West Bowl area to develop that area for additional ski slopes at Mount Sunapee only after it agreed to abandon a proposed expansion into the East Bowl area when old-growth forest characteristics were found there.
Mount Sunapee has no current plans for real estate development on its private land, although the Master Plan lists some real estate development as a future possibility, a spokesman has told SAM.
Since 2004, Mount Sunapee has proposed an expansion of the ski terrain at Mount Sunapee onto the western flank of the mountain. The West Bowl expansion would add a 5,100' express quad chair lift to serve four top-to-bottom ski trails of approximately 80 acres of new ski terrain, much of it on Sunapee’s private land, and a satellite base area with facilities such as a new base lodge and parking lot. The expansion proposal still must go through the various planning processes; a Master Plan hearing is scheduled for August.
“Our Master Development Plans have always been about improving the skiing experience and recreational opportunities at Mount Sunapee. We believe the West Bowl expansion will significantly enhance the skiing and riding experience at Mount Sunapee,” said Jay Gamble, vice-president and general manager.