NEWRY — At Wednesday night’s Planning Board meeting, members deemed the application for Sunday River Ski Resort’s proposed one-lot subdivision near Summit Hotel as incomplete.

They want resort engineer Joe Aloisio to create a pictorial view of a proposed road through the hotel’s back parking lot and under a chairlift to reach the lot, planned stop signs for the road at intersections with other roads and pavement painting for a crosswalk and walkways.

They also asked him to make a future maintenance plan for the road, but unanimously granted him a waiver on road frontage.

But before the board could discuss the application, they had to first settle a potential bias issue amongst themselves.

Chairman Pat Roma said he learned earlier from Newry Administrator Loretta Powers that Sunday River’s attorney bypassed the Planning Board and contacted Newry’s attorney asking that three Planning Board members recuse themselves from considering and voting on the project because they own time-share units at the resort. He also shared concerns about the town’s road frontage requirement.

Roma said there are actually four Planning Board members who own time-share units at the resort. If all four recused themselves, the board would lack a quorum to consider the application.

Newry’s attorney recommended that the four Planning Board members abstain from voting, Roma said.

He then identified himself as one of the time-share unit owners.

“I am of the opinion that I would offer a fair judgement in voting,” he said. “I don’t feel that I would be biased or have a conflict of interest. I have nothing to gain whether this project succeeds or not. I have no strong feelings either way.”

Before asking the other owners to make their own statements, Roma said that Ron Guertin should not vote on the project since he is a member of the Summit Hotel Board of Directors. Guertin is also a Newry Planning Board alternate member who was given the right to vote Wednesday night due to the absence of a regular member.

Roma told Guertin that he should recuse himself from voting “because of that stronger relationship with the Summit Hotel, so as not to create the appearance of a bias.”

Guertin said that was fine.

“I’m winging it here because without a quorum, we can’t act on the application,” Roma said.

Planning Board member David Walker said Guertin could abstain from voting, but still participate in the discussions and state an opinion.

After some discussion, Roma decided how to proceed.

“The conflict of bias is only an issue if somebody calls it in the end so that we could proceed and all participate in the vote and make a decision and pass that decision on to the applicant,” Roma said. “If nobody calls, then it’s a done deal.

“If Sunday River doesn’t like the decision the board has reached, they could then step up and claim bias or conflict, or if some other party feels injured, they could step up and claim bias, so then it goes to the Appeals Board,” he said.

“My hope is that we could conduct this meeting in such a manner that there is full disclosure, there’s a fair and impartial proceeding such that the vote wouldn’t be challenged, and then we move on to the next one.”

“Very well stated,” said applicant Aloisio, a former longtime Newry Planning Board member and chairman. “I agree. I think that is the correct way to proceed, and you are correct —  that is the way it should proceed. I feel there is a very high probability that the board will be fair and impartial.”

Walker, Guertin and fellow Planning Board member Jason Berry then identified themselves as the other time-share unit owners. They said they could be fair and impartial and had nothing to gain or lose whatever the outcome.

Aloisio said he was OK with those admissions.

Roma then described the project. The resort, he said, wants to carve out a one-acre piece of land from a parcel they own near the Summit Hotel. He said they want to use the existing roadway that passes by the hotel and extend it 300 feet through the hotel’s rear parking lot to reach the new lot. It would require passing underneath a chairlift.

Following a visit to the site earlier Wednesday evening, Roma said they went up there to see how large the area is, whether it would be a safe passageway and see where the resort wants to create the lot on which they have yet to decide what to build.

Roma said he wants to treat the road extension as a new road with a new name, and have the applicant add stop signs to distinguish it as such. Aloisio objected, saying it’s an extension of the current road, not a new road. However, he did agree to place stop signs on it.

Roma also wanted warning signs placed to alert drivers to crosswalks and walkways, along with a painted centerline on the road extension.

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