State approves land use permit for Magic Mountain renovations

LONDONDERRY — Vermont's Natural Resources Board has approved a permit authorizing multiple facilities projects contained in Magic Mountain's capital improvement plan, expected to total approximately $2 million over five years.

The ski area was purchased by a group of 16 investors in 2016, consisting primarily of friends who spent their youth skiing southern Vermont. Through these improvements, the new owners hope to revitalize Magic Mountain while enriching the economy of the surrounding region.

"We're putting the money in is because we think that Magic has lagged behind over the last few decades, and needs some real basic things done to realize its full potential," said Geoff Hatheway, President of Ski Magic LLC. "In doing so, we hope to make this mountain, and therefore Londonderry, much more viable for a larger set of individuals to come and experience a type of ski area that's different from other resorts."

While the team behind the mountain's new image hopes to emphasize its unique character, Hatheway claims that this effort will benefit other establishments in Southern Vermont as well.

"We want to improve the quality, without changing the character that makes Magic unique in the marketplace," said Hatheway. "We're trying to create a much more viable niche for Magic to really add to what the region offers, which is a great variety of mountains including Stratton and Bromley among so many others."

To commence with the renovations, Ski Magic LLC. is required to gain permits through Vermont's Act 250, enacted in 1970 to balance the environmental and social impacts of major developments. Many of those permits were granted by the Natural Resources Board last week, though improvements to the mountain's snowmaking pond are still being considered.

"While not all the projects approved by Act 250 will be completed this year, our customers will see an immediate impact on a more accessible and better-quality snow experience for young families who want a mountain their kids can learn on and never outgrow," said Matt Cote, Operations Director for Magic Mountain. "Plus, there is now great all-season mountain recreation here with the new Magic Mountain National disc golf course."

The permit provides a green light for a number of projects being undertaken at Magic Mountain, including the refurbishment and placement of a base-to-mid-mountain chair lift for novice and intermediate skiers. A conveyor surface lift for the mountains new "bunny slope," known as the Nelson Family Learning Area, has also been approved.

"We're putting money strategically into making the mountain more accessible to families, beginners, and intermediates," said Hatheway. "We've always had an expert oriented profile in terms of terrain, but we hope to augment that by improving the lifts and snowmaking."

The construction of new buildings was also approved in the permit, including a new 30' by 80' exterior deck for the base lodge, a 12' by 20' prefabricated ski patrol building, and a 24' guest services yurt mid-mountain.

Beyond new lifts and buildings, Magic Mountain will also upgrade the lighting for the snow tubing area and main entrance sign, replace approximately 1,500 linear feet of underground snowmaking pipeline in the base area, and install an 18-hole disc golf course.

"This Act 250 permit represents a good portion of our capital commitment over the next couple of years," said Hatheway. "Other commitments, like a fleet of modern low-e snowmaking guns, variable frequency drives and pumps to upgrade our snowmaking system are also critical capital expenditures we've made to improve the quality, energy-efficiency and output from Magic's snowmaking system."

To further improve upon Magic's snowmaking capabilities a separate permitting process is underway to improve the mountain's snowmaking pond, a project that is expected to commence next year. Through the Act 250 permitting process Magic will work closely with the State to finalize the design of the project, which should protect the quality of the water coming into the tributary system while also improving Magic's access to water withdrawal.

"We're very excited," said Hatheway. "These types of improvements to the area will benefit not only the mountain and our investor group, but they will make Magic a much more viable economic resource for the whole area."

Reach Cherise Madigan at 802-490-6471.


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