North Country
11:37 am
Wed May 23, 2012

Colebrook Planning Board Resolves Concern Over Balsams Tract

The Colebrook Planning Board Tuesday night removed what the new owners of the Balsams Grand Resort have said was an impediment to the redevelopment needed to allow hundreds of people to get back to work.

The issue was a 28-acre parcel the owners wanted separated from the rest of the property because for decades about two acres of it had been used as a dump.

At a May 1st meeting the Planning Board balked at approving the subdivision. It cited concerns over whether the site was polluted and the town might someday be responsible for cleaning it up.

That prompted the new owners, Dan Hebert and Dan Dagesse, to issue a news release complaining that the Planning Board was needlessly holding up renovation of the facility. They said they needed that parcel to be separate to make financing more attractive.

But the Planning Board members said they were just trying to make sure they fulfilled their duty to protect the town.

Horizons Engineering of Littleton is representing the owners in the project.

Tuesday night Horizons’ official Jon Warzocha said the company investigated what is commonly referred to as the “liquid waste dump” and reviewed documents on file with the Department of Environmental Services.

“The data don’t suggest there is a huge problem here,” Warzocha said. “This is not Three-Mile Island.”

He said there is a ground-water quality violation but it is barely over the limit.

But he  volunteered that without digging everything up "we don't know for sure what is in there."

Planning Board members – including Selectman Bob Holt – repeated their concern, which centered  around the parcel being separated, put under different ownership and then somehow abandoned, leaving the town responsible.

Dan Hebert responded, saying  parcel would be put under a different corporate name but he and Dagesse would remain the owners.

“I am going to leave it to my heirs,” he said.

Officials from the Department of Environmental Services also told the Planning Board they would require Hebert and Dagesse to cap the landfill and show they have the money to monitor and care for it for 30 years.

Towards the end of the meeting several members of the audience shouted that failing to approve the subdivision would hurt the town which badly needs the Balsams to re-open.

About 300 full and part-time jobs were lost when the resort closed in December.

The board voted unanimously to approve the subdivision contingent on another approval Thursday night by the Coos County Planning Board.

That involves access to the tract and Horizon’s Warzocha said he didn’t expect it to be an issue.

Leaving the meeting Hebert said he wouldn’t have any comment until after the meeting Thursday night.