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October 13. 2013 6:11PM

Developer proposes $20 million golf resort in Middleton


Some Middleton residents express a mix of curiosity and concern about a proposal to develop an airstrip and create a golf course and resort in town. Work has already started to prepare the 200-acre property, as seen from Ridge Road Thursday morning, but the project still needs to be approved by the Planning Board. John Quinn 

MIDDLETON — A developer who is working to complete an airstrip in town wants to build a $20 million golf resort on a 200-acre parcel which has access to King’s Highway and Ridge Road.

After creating a 3,200-foot grass runway strip and beginning to clear some trees on the property, Charles Therriault, of Therriault’s Landing of Salem, submitted a preliminary plan for the project to change a lot line separating residential lots and the airstrip from the proposed golf resort and function center.

Therriault and Christopher Berry, of Berry Surveying & Engineering of Barrington, reviewed their lot line request with the Planning Board Thursday evening and hoped to submit final plans during the next meeting, scheduled for Nov. 14.

Vice Chair John Mullen said Therriault must submit a list of abutters, provide self-addressed stamped envelopes to notify neighbors, and provide detailed engineering and details for the necessary site plan to the board 10 days before the next session.

“You need a lot more information than you have now,” Mullen said, adding the board would have 90 days to review the application and the plans before making a decision on the proposal.

“We just want to do it right,” Mullen said, adding the process is the same for all applicants.

If approved, the resort could become the largest employer in the town, which has few businesses. Middleton Building Supply and Diprizio Pine Sales, which has about 100 employees, is currently the largest business.

“What we’re really doing is being a premier wedding facility,” Therriault said, adding weddings are a $300 million business in the state.

If all goes well, Therriault said he hopes to break ground next spring and finish construction in about a year. He envisions having a facility with a five-star restaurant, 52 suites, an 800-person ballroom, smaller function rooms, a fitness center and spa, a bar & grille and the golf course.Therriault said the grass-covered airstrip, which is listed as private, would only be used by residents at the resort or by contacting him for permission.

He added he intends to add a home and a hangar adjacent to the proposed club house.

“We’re probably going to employ about 200 people,” Therriault said, adding the resort would also create the need for “another 300 ancillary jobs that go along with it.”As there are few other facilities which offer so much in the area, Therriault said the resort would draw people from across the country.

“It’s a destination,” Therriault said, and demand would be high for proms and graduations in the spring, weddings in the summer, foliage in the fall and skiing in the winter.

Mullen said some residents have expressed concerns about the project.

“There has been clear cutting, but he has a legal right to do that,” Mullen said, adding others wonder whether the lack of trees will allow runoff to wash away topsoil on the property.

Mullen said the project is well within existing town ordinances and state law.

“There have been some issues with (wetlands) permitting, but that’s being handled by the DES (N.H. Department of Environmental Services),” Mullen said.

Therriault said they have been working with the state to address the issues. He said there are probably 20 to 25 acres of wetlands throughout the property.

“We’re not impacting the wetlands with the golf course,” Therriault said, because the course is designed around the wetlands.

Berry said the final proposal will include details about drainage, slope and engineering. He said they plan to study the impact of the Jones Brook, which runs under Ridge Road, and plan for the wetlands on and around the property.

“In general, the project is large — there are a large number of details we need to provide to you,” Berry said, adding the proposal to create an 18-hole golf course and resort is separate from future plans to build eight homes and develop a frontage business along King’s Highway.

jquinn@newstote.com


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