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DOVER — A group of former Hermitage Club members made the highest bid in an auction for properties at an exclusive private ski area that was developed at and around the former Haystack Mountain in Wilmington.

"The courts finds [the bid] does meet the best interests of the estate and complies with prior orders," said U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Colleen Brown.

The Hermitage Member Group submitted a $8,060,000 bid for the resort, the Barnstormer Chairlift, the golf course, several inns and some undeveloped parcels of land.

Janice B. Grubin, attorney for Jim Barnes, who purchased the old ski area in 2011, attempted to stay the proceeding on the grounds that attempts to market the properties were not adequate.

"The stay is denied," responded Brown. "Mr. Barnes had ample opportunity and notice to appear as recently as Jan. 31 and he failed to do so. This hearing is concluded."

Barnes marketed the Hermitage as a private ski area, a club, inns, a golf course, and homes for members. But last year, Berkshire Bank filed a foreclosure complaint against the Hermitage for defaulting on more than $17 million in loans and the Vermont Department of Taxes shut down Hermitage establishments for missing tax payments totaling more than $1 million.

Barnes has also been on the losing end of several civil actions by people who purchased lots and were building homes on the assumption the Hermitage Club would be financially viable.

Bob Audette can be contacted at raudette@reformer.com.


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