Resort gets OK to rezone, expand

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RANGELEY – State land use regulators approved Saddleback Ski Area’s plan Wednesday to develop a four-season recreational resort, construct new lifts and trails, and increase snowmaking and skier facilities, resort marketing director JoAnne Taylor said.

Maine Land Use Regulation Commission unanimously approved Saddleback Inc.’s and Saddleback Land & Timber Corp.’s petition to rezone 1,898 acres and amend its 10-year development plan during its meeting in Presque Isle, Taylor said.

The companies are both entities of the Archie “Bill” Berry family.

Resort owners plan to invest more than $120 million in the next decade to develop the four-season recreational resort.

LURC staff had recommended the proposal be approved but Executive Director Catherine Carroll was unavailable for comment on the decision Wednesday afternoon.

The approval gives Saddleback the go-ahead to do engineering work and to begin Phase One of the plan that includes building nine new lifts and associated trails, an amenity center with indoor pool, spa and fitness center, a tubing park and tennis courts, Taylor said.

The first phase of the development plan includes construction of the Magalloway lift and trail network and new trails in the high-elevation False Peak advanced area, she said.

Trailside lodging will be expanded with the construction of whole and fractional ownership condominiums and private home sites, Taylor said.

During the first phase, they plan to continue to build out the Rock Pond, South Branch and Mountain Brook condominiums along with Magalloway home sites. There are 24 house lots planned for the latter, Taylor said.

The rezoning of the 1,898 acres is in addition to the 1,960 acres that are already in the planned development and will enable Saddleback to craft an environmentally conscious resort, Taylor said.

Saddleback owns 8,087 acres of mountains and lakes.

“After three years of extensive studies, considerable expense and an abiding commitment to the natural beauty of Maine, the Berry family is one step closer to realizing their vision for Saddleback Mountain,” development manager John Cannizzaro stated in a release.

Saddleback was purchased in 2003 by the Berry family of Farmington and other parts of Maine.

Since then, they have built a large post and beam base lodge, added 44 percent to the ski terrain, increased snowmaking to 85 percent, added a quad chairlift and trail system for beginners and families, among other improvements, according to the release.

Further phases of development at Saddleback include continued real estate offerings, two inns, a hotel, village amenities, additional lift and trail systems and two day lodges. Snowmaking will expand with trail development.

Development in the village area will be in small clusters scattered throughout the development zone with each cluster not visible from the others. “This is a low density, low profile project that is different from real estate developments at other ski areas,” Cannizzaro stated.

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