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bye bye Kingdom trails??

douglas

Chocolate Milk Doug
May 15, 2002
9,889
0
Shut up and Ride
Burke's big boom comes with worries

Published: Sunday, February 10, 2008
By Candace Page
Free Press Staff Writer

BURKE -- The town Development Review Board has begun to consider permits for what is described as the largest development ever in northeastern Vermont, a luxury resort likely to transform this corner of the Northeast Kingdom.

The Ginn Co., a Florida developer specializing in private golf courses and the million-dollar houses that surround them, purchased the Burke Mountain ski area in 2005. Over 10 years, it proposes to build 1,024 condominiums and homes, a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, a spa, shops and restaurants.

"Bridgemor" -- the name is intended to evoke the state's covered bridges -- would more than double the number of people and houses in Burke, a town of 1,700. Skier visits on peak days would quadruple, from 500 to 2,000 or more.

While Ginn's $100 million plans are not out of scale with four-season resort development at other Vermont ski areas, the company's impact is expected to ripple beyond Burke's boundaries into more remote parts of the Northeast Kingdom, the state's most rural corner.

Incomes are modest in this part of Vermont. The population of many towns numbers only in the hundreds, and much of the forested landscape belongs to moose, bear and deer.

To many residents, the prospect of hundreds of million-dollar houses and half-million-dollar condominiums seems as unlikely, and scary, as an invasion of elephants.

"Growth spawns growth. Wealth attracts more wealth. There's widespread concern here about the scale of this development and how it will really change our community," resident Carol Krochak said recently.

Ginn's coming already has begun to change Burke.

Property values around the ski area have zoomed up -- a sign on the Mountain Road last week advertised 4 acres for $370,000. An independent developer just made the first million-dollar condominium sale at the mountain.

Burke has rewritten its town plan. Despite many residents' suspicion of zoning as an infringement on property rights, the town has overhauled its ordinance from top to bottom in an attempt to prevent strip development and commercial sprawl.

Neighboring towns have just begun to try to understand the proposed resort's likely impact on roads, home prices, local schools and their way of life.

Despite local doubts, there is an air of inevitability around Ginn's plans.

That's due in large part to a decision the town made in 1989, when it approved a master plan for a previous owner of the ski area. That master plan allowed 1,700 condominiums and homes.

While those plans never were carried out, Ginn says its new proposal is covered by the old master plan.

For this reason and others, Ginn's plans have not provoked organized opposition.

Many people in the region see the resort as important to their economy. Ginn says the resort will provide 300 good year-round jobs when it is fully built, for example.

The ski area -- which went through four bankruptcies in the 1980s and '90s -- is regarded as a community asset that might be lost unless high-end real estate development is allowed. Some residents also hew to the rural tradition of allowing neighbors to do what they want with their land.

Sam Sanderson, a woodworker and chairman of the Burke Selectboard, a man born in the farmhouse where he still lives, personifies the conflicting emotions.

"It's too big," he said of the Ginn development. "I wish they were gone. I wish there were cows up there -- but you can't put a fence around the town. Free enterprise comes into it."

The company's spending in Burke has flowed as freely as the nearby Passumpsic River: Ginn paid a reported $3 million for the ski area and another $8 million for 1,300 more acres near the ski area.

In one case, Ginn spent $2.5 million for 64 acres on the mountain -- land then valued at just $136,000 on the town tax rolls.

Even Tim McGuire, the Ginn project manager who joined the company after the purchases, shakes his head.

"I said to them -- 'You paid WHAT for that?'" he recounted. "We paid too much."

Ginn paid wind energy developer Matthew Rubin $317,000 to buy veto power over any wind turbines or tall buildings Rubin might want to put on land he owns atop East Haven Mountain, a nearby peak visible from the Ginn development.

Ginn's spending represents almost loose change for a company that sold $1.4 billion worth of real estate in 2004.

Ginn has built and operates resorts in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. It is planning a 4,300-acre development in Colorado with 1,700 homes and a private ski mountain.

In the Bahamas, work has begun on the $4.9 billion GinnSurMer resort with 1,800 homes and 4,400 condominiums. The development's central building, the Palace, was inspired by the castle of Versailles.

"Ginn's whole reputation is as a developer of premier resorts, high-end destinations," McGuire said. The architecture of Bridgemor will reflect New England, but the resort will deliver the same luxury and service as Ginn's Florida properties, he said.

To some, small is beautiful

Burke residents seem unsure whether they want to "dream bigger."

Like many Vermont communities, the town is a mix of people born and raised here, and transplants who came looking for quiet, rural beauty and small-town intimacy.

They live in a picture-postcard landscape: three tiny hamlets separated by north-south ridges and swathes of field and forest.

West Burke is a slightly down-at-the-heels former railway depot; Burke Hollow nestles in the hills, a cluster of white houses and church steeples; East Burke, gateway to the mountain, is a wide spot in the road with a store, small inn, two restaurants, two real estate offices and a gas station

(The town is intimate but not isolated. Bustling Lyndonville is an eight-minute drive south. An Interstate 91 exit lies just seven miles away. )

On a recent Tuesday afternoon, a group of quilters sewed and joked at the community library in East Burke. Up the street, two neighbors greeted one another outside the store, Bailey's and Burke, trading news about their children. Local teens were unloading their skis at the cross-country ski area on Pinkham Road.

Though Bailey's and Burke now sells French Celtic hand-harvest sea salt and organic mayonnaise along with coffee, sandwiches and Tootsie Roll pops, the small ski area -- perhaps because of its modest size -- has not greatly changed community life.

"There's such an egalitarian feel to this place," said Joan Harlow, a former program director at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She has been visiting since the 1960s and has lived year-round since 1995 in a weathered farmhouse above East Burke.

"You wouldn't know the guy up the road won a Nobel prize or the woman down the road the other way was a well-known author. People work together," she said.

"The kind of people who buy in a Ginn development have third and fourth homes. They are looking for luxury. Tim McGuire has called it a 'grand resort.' That's a different lifestyle than the people here," she said.

In a town where modest homes sell for $250,000 or less, Bridgemor's condominiums would cost $400,000 to $500,000, McGuire said.

No price has been set for the 200 single-family home lots, but at other Ginn developments, house lots sell for $300,000 or more before the houses are built. In one Ginn North Carolina resort, a 2.3-acre lot was on the market last week for $695,000.

A 'little Woodstock'?


Chick Gagnon, 61, drives heavy equipment at a sand and gravel company and lives in a log cabin he built himself. He has "no problem" with the Ginn development.

In the next breath he says, "I think they should downsize it" and mourns the changes in town that Ginn will accelerate, from stoplights to condominiums dotting the hillsides.

"We made this place and now we won't be able to afford to live here," he said over an end-of-the-day Budweiser. "When I first came, everybody used to be so friendly. Now they snub you like, 'What are you doing here?'"

Lorraine Willy runs the Village Inn bed-and-breakfast in East Burke with her husband, George. Ginn might bring them more business, but that doesn't outweigh her dislike of the company's proposal.

"It's too big. It's too gaudy. It looks like Florida with a gazillion condos. I'm afraid they won't keep that Vermont feel," she said.

"What protection do we have for us and our quality of life?" she asked.

Not everyone has doubts. Annette Dalley, a real estate agent in East Burke, says Ginn as brought a "renewed sense of hope" to the town.

"People want the village to stay the same, but they're happy to have growth on the mountain," she said. (Her husband, Rob, put in: "We need our tranquillity. We don't want to be a little Woodstock.")

George Hayes, a retired lawyer who skis three to five days a week, sees Ginn as the mountain's savior.

"I know enough to know Burke Mountain can't stand alone as a ski area," he said. The new owners, with their deep pockets and past success at real estate development, give him confidence the place he has skied for 42 years will stay in business.

What's next

Ginn has another supporter -- the Northeastern Vermont Development Association, the region's planning and development agency.

"NVDA is delighted at the prospect of growing a traditional sector of our economy," the agency wrote recently.

At the same time, the agency said, "we anticipate there will be tremendous impacts on local infrastructure, the housing market and land-use patterns."

NVDA has launched a $50,000 impact study with Burke and six neighboring towns to assess Ginn's likely impact and recommend ways to lessen or guide the effects. Three of the towns -- East Haven (pop. 303), Victory (pop. 97) and Newark (pop. 470) -- have no zoning ordinances.

Meanwhile, Ginn is seeking approval from the Burke Development Review Board for its sketch plan -- a general layout of the golf course and housing sites. Included is a four-to-five story condominium hotel that would perch on what is now a mid-mountain parking lot with a 180-degree view of the Northeast Kingdom. The buildings themselves have not been designed, McGuire said.

"There's still a long way to go" before Ginn's development is approved, said Sara Romero, the board's vice chairwoman.

While many townspeople wish the development could be scaled down, Romero said it's too early to tell whether the board could, or would, require that.

"This is the first time we've ever done anything like this," she said. "We are learning all the time."

Contact Candace Page at 660-1865 or cpage@bfp.burlingtonfreepress.com
 

douglas

Chocolate Milk Doug
May 15, 2002
9,889
0
Shut up and Ride
BURKE AT A GLANCE

Population (est.), 2007: 1,719
Assessed property value, 2007: $211,622,200
Median household income, 2005 (est.): $38,400
Median home value, 2005: $138,000
Number of homes (2006):
Year-round: 670
Single-family vacation homes: 51
Condominiums: 164
 

BadDNA

hophead
Mar 31, 2006
4,168
113
Winning.
I truly feel bad for the town of Burke. It's almost a necessary evil but the town is facing a complete loss of character if this goes through.

:(
 

C.P.

Monkey
Jan 18, 2004
547
8
SouthEastern Massachusetts
Much of the news of Ginn's plans has been known for a couple years now. We were looking at surrounding real estate about a year ago, and were told that the real estate prices in the area had already been going up as much as 2 years prior, based on word of the ski area's potential new owners. I think the KT trail system will likely carry on, but the sheer numbers (on the trail) will increase, which to many of us who go for small town feel, will notice (this sux).

Take a look around some of the other large NE ski resort towns like Killington. The roadways are more like highways, while the roads in and around Burke are still pretty much local (there are even dirt roads up by Wildflower Inn)
Also, I was surprised to hear that many locals up that way oppose the wind turbines as well. EG: Lorraine and George dont want wind turbines on the hills (Village Inn owners).

Anyways, I hope the town planners do a good job of controlling the development, b/c it's going to happen one way or another... :disgust1:
 

ito

Mr. Schwinn Effing Armstrong
Oct 3, 2003
1,709
0
Avoiding the nine to five
Time to join E.L.F. and start stockpiling explosives. I vote the NE Monkey crew starts up an underground bike militia.

That really does suck for the town though. I can't imagine what it will look like in a few years when all this has gone through.

:disgust1:
 

Westy

the teste
Nov 22, 2002
36,454
3,220
Sleazattle
The town I live in is suffering a similar fate. It was never as small or quaint as East Burke but it had it's charms. It's all being buried by Applebees,strip malls and traffic jams. God Bless the United States of Generica.
 

Echo

crooked smile
Jul 10, 2002
11,818
1
Slacking at work
Pretty much any place that's nice, scenic, or otherwise desireable will be bought, developed, and turned into a place that is not nice, not scenic, and not desireable. Then, the people who ruined it will be like "this sucks now" and go find someplace else nice to ruin.
 

jonKranked

Press Button, Receive Stupid
Nov 10, 2005
55,748
4,698
media blackout
Pretty much any place that's nice, scenic, or otherwise desireable will be bought, developed, and turned into a place that is not nice, not scenic, and not desireable. Then, the people who ruined it will be like "this sucks now" and go find someplace else nice to ruin.
same end result as a scorched earth policy, only without the salt or fire.
 

BadDNA

hophead
Mar 31, 2006
4,168
113
Winning.
Look at Warren, VT.
I haven't been in almost a decade but the last time I was there it was a shell of what was probably once a nice, small, classic New England town that had been overrun by corporate whores and big boxes. Really discouraging if that's what Burke has in it's future.
 

Echo

crooked smile
Jul 10, 2002
11,818
1
Slacking at work
I think you have to get written permission from JerseyDave to ride trails in Stowe. And getting written permission involves 200 man-hours of trail work, and you are not allowed to have any sort of accent (other than an accent like his of course).
 

syadasti

i heart mac
Apr 15, 2002
12,721
290
VT
I think you have to get written permission from JerseyDave to ride trails in Stowe. And getting written permission involves 200 man-hours of trail work, and you are not allowed to have any sort of accent (other than an accent like his of course).
This past summer I was in Stowe and never contacted him. I know other locals in Stowe - its always better to get the local hookup but not required. Its getting to be tourist friendly mountain bike destination like KT. Multiple LBS rent bikes and have maps I think?

JBP and one of my friends from Stowe are both on VT trail crews and know each other.
 

splat

Nam I am
I think you have to get written permission from JerseyDave to ride trails in Stowe. And getting written permission involves 200 man-hours of trail work, and you are not allowed to have any sort of accent (other than an accent like his of course).
and lets not forget it could not have rainined with in the last month

He no longer owns that property :(
I think you are thinking negladrider who use to own the land where we had MF 1 +2 that is now "the cross-country ski area on Pinkham Road"
 

syadasti

i heart mac
Apr 15, 2002
12,721
290
VT
I think Carbondale, PA would be a great place for MTB event two great trail systems - Fell (Merli) and Prompton Dam. Only thing is the beer and food is severely lacking compared to VT
 

douglas

Chocolate Milk Doug
May 15, 2002
9,889
0
Shut up and Ride
I'll admit it looks pretty bad but it might actually be a good thing. I think you could have growth without strip malls and big box stores (which I don't think they could have without a large year round population). Take a look at Stowe. It is still a pretty nice town. What if they transformed those fields near the lodge into a really nice little town? Complete with covered sidewalks, quirky local shops, and open air cafes. We could actually have more choices for dinner besides the POB and overpriced (albeit good) pizza. And more options for lodging besides high end Inns, B&Bs, 20 camping sites, or an overpriced Comfort Inn 30 minutes away. Plus, like I said earlier, they could build a ton more trails out there. With more people means more money and thus more trail building. If they plan the growth right, East Burke could become the perfect place for an extended mountain biking vacation. As it is now you can ride all the trails there in 3 days. Imagine a different 30 mile ride everyday for a week.
holy crap, you have a crazy imagination.

I see anything affordable gone if this happens.

Hmm, do we keep renting out that camp site for $12/night or put up a few condo's that will go for $950,000 each
 

skinny mike

Turbo Monkey
Jan 24, 2005
6,416
0
I'll admit it looks pretty bad but it might actually be a good thing. I think you could have growth without strip malls and big box stores (which I don't think they could have without a large year round population). Take a look at Stowe. It is still a pretty nice town. What if they transformed those fields near the lodge into a really nice little town? Complete with covered sidewalks, quirky local shops, and open air cafes. We could actually have more choices for dinner besides the POB and overpriced (albeit good) pizza. And more options for lodging besides high end Inns, B&Bs, 20 camping sites, or an overpriced Comfort Inn 30 minutes away. Plus, like I said earlier, they could build a ton more trails out there. With more people means more money and thus more trail building. If they plan the growth right, East Burke could become the perfect place for an extended mountain biking vacation. As it is now you can ride all the trails there in 3 days. Imagine a different 30 mile ride everyday for a week.
stowe is the biggest yuppie town in vermont, not to mention living there is so damn expensive.

i hope burke does not turn into stowe.
 

syadasti

i heart mac
Apr 15, 2002
12,721
290
VT
holy crap, you have a crazy imagination.

I see anything affordable gone if this happens.

Hmm, do we keep renting out that camp site for $12/night or put up a few condo's that will go for $950,000 each
Stowe property is crazy expensive but there are plenty of cheap hotel rooms in the summertime.

Piecasso is awesome and so is Gracie's right down the street.

Waterbury has Jimmy's Pizza with free Wifi (recommended - the owner is a friend/MTBer). His friend is the cook in the shot above with JBP...
 

Tmeyer

Monkey
Mar 26, 2005
586
1
SLC
I'll admit it looks pretty bad but it might actually be a good thing. I think you could have growth without strip malls and big box stores (which I don't think they could have without a large year round population). Take a look at Stowe. It is still a pretty nice town. What if they transformed those fields near the lodge into a really nice little town? Complete with covered sidewalks, quirky local shops, and open air cafes. We could actually have more choices for dinner besides the POB and overpriced (albeit good) pizza. And more options for lodging besides high end Inns, B&Bs, 20 camping sites, or an overpriced Comfort Inn 30 minutes away. Plus, like I said earlier, they could build a ton more trails out there. With more people means more money and thus more trail building. If they plan the growth right, East Burke could become the perfect place for an extended mountain biking vacation. As it is now you can ride all the trails there in 3 days. Imagine a different 30 mile ride everyday for a week.
Not so sure, KT has done an amazing job of working with local land owners to get more trail open. With expansion comes out of state money and I'm not sure many newbies to the area will allow an MTB trail on their land, just speculation. The coolest thing about KT is how huge the network is and bringing in more people (non-bikers) may have a detrimental affect on land openings. I like your optimism and I hope town planners are conscious when approving plans, I just really hope no trails are lost b/c KT is a truly special place I hope to ride for the rest of my life.
 

Evil Sylvain

Monkey
Feb 27, 2006
181
0
Montreal, QC, Canada
What is interesting, in a negative sense, is that there is no mention of mountain biking in the article.

Between Stowe and Waterbury I would prefer to live in Waterbury. Stowe is not nice at all. It does not have the classic NE feel anymore.
 

narlus

Eastcoast Softcore
Staff member
Nov 7, 2001
24,658
25
behind the viewfinder
The town I live in is suffering a similar fate. It was never as small or quaint as East Burke but it had it's charms. It's all being buried by Applebees,strip malls and traffic jams. God Bless the United States of Generica.
i blame bagged cheese. it's definitely near the source of this action, if not the actual core.
 

skinny mike

Turbo Monkey
Jan 24, 2005
6,416
0
There is also quite a problem in Stowe with the ritch biotches buying properties with well established trails on 'em and shutting them down - don't want anyone contaminating their little sultanate. Land whores suck.
yeah the rich people around stowe are not only stupid, but they are also assholes.

i plan to avoid that place like the plague next week since it's vacation week.
 

syadasti

i heart mac
Apr 15, 2002
12,721
290
VT
I just got Bike March 08 Issue - Waterbury FTW in VT:D

I think they are confused about Avery's old shop - I think it was always in Stowe - it didn't move there and then become i-Ride. It was Irie and then it was sold and became i-Ride.