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Maine Okays $104M Expansion of Ski Resort On Sugarloaf's West Mountain

Tue January 03, 2023 - Northeast Edition #2
The Lewiston Sun Journal and Mainebiz.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has approved a plan for Sugarloaf, one of New England's top ski resorts, to expand to its adjacent West Mountain property in Franklin County's Carrabassett Valley.

The resort's parent company, Michigan-based Boyne USA Inc., has outlined the multi-year, $104 million project as part of its 2030 primary plan for Sugarloaf. The blueprints include new trails to accommodate skiers of all abilities, adding and upgrading lifts, skier services infrastructure, roads, bridges, parking lots, condominiums, duplex-style townhomes and single-family lots.

In early December, the Carrabassett Valley Planning Board gave its conditional approval to the plan, the Lewiston Sun Journal reported Dec. 28.

"DEP approval of the West Mountain Expansion plan is a significant and meaningful step towards beginning construction on what will be a transformative project for Sugarloaf," Karl Strand, Sugarloaf's general manager, said in a statement. "We are grateful for the diligent work of everyone involved in this process over the past two years and look forward to moving forward with this exciting project as soon as we receive the remaining approvals."

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Maine Department of Transportation still need to sign off on the project before construction can begin, the Sun Journal added. If that happens soon, timber clearing will begin this winter.

According to Mainebiz, the housing developments would include 52 single-family lots ranging in size from 0.63 acres to 5.55 acres, four condominium buildings of 22 to 28 units each, and 36 duplex townhome buildings, for a total of 72 units.

Sugarloaf Mountain Corp. also proposes building a 2,400-sq.-ft. skier services structure to house a restaurant, lodge and office as part of the 565-acre expansion. A network of hiking and biking trails would wind throughout the new expansion.

The site plan was prepared in 2021 by VHB Inc., a consultant headquartered in Watertown, Mass., with offices in Maine. The project would involve about 290 acres of land with 51 acres of developed area on managed forest located south of Maine's Route 27, and east of the existing West Mountain Quad ski lift.

The resort is about a 45-mi. drive northwest of Skowhegan, Maine.

The West Mountain project is considered one of the most transformative enhancements in the resort's 70 years and is a key part of the 10-year "Sugarloaf 2030 Road Map," published in 2020 by Boyne USA.

Three-Phased Expansion

The first phase of the Sugarloaf West Mountain expansion includes most of the ski trails, the ski lift, many of the new roads, the skier services building, two of the parking lots, a number of new house lots and buildings off West Mountain Road, and associated stormwater management structures and utility lines, Mainebiz noted.

Following that construction, Phase II will consist of seven new townhomes off Bucksaw Drive, and one of the condominium buildings.

Finally, the third phase will include the building of the remaining ski trails, the drop-off parking lot, and the remaining roads and housing. To accommodate future growth, added parking and lift access are planned at West Mountain.

At times, the popularity of the resort in recent years has caused 250 or more cars to be parked on the main access road, leading to traffic congestion.

With more onsite residential units, Sugarloaf officials hope to increase skier visits and mitigate a shortage of housing units available at the mountain, according to Mainebiz. The ski lift plans to provide access from the base of the trail system to an area already occupied by the upper terminal of the West Mountain Quad ski lift. The addition of the lift also is seen as an opportunity to better utilize facilities for summer events, such as weddings, concerts and food beverage services at the midmountain Bullwinkle's Restaurant.

According to the Lewiston Sun Journal, Sugarloaf's other stated goals for the expansion include improving the ski resort's mix of trails to provide more intermediate and beginner terrain, and enhancing its protection against high winds that require partial shutdowns of lifts.

The Sun Journal reported the total estimated cost of Sugarloaf's West Mountain expansion project is to be funded with a combination of corporate revenue and financing through the ski resort's parent company, Boyne Resorts, as well as through the sale of the proposed single-family house lots on the mountain.

Sugarloaf, at 4,237 ft., is the second-highest peak in Maine after Katahdin. With a 2,320-ft. vertical drop, 1,240 skiable acres and 162 trails and glades, the ski resort is one of the largest in the Northeast.

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