Letter to the Editor: The Price and Preservation of Powder Ridge

Middlefield First Selectman: The value of Powder Ridge has changed due to removal of development rights.



For those who question why the town bought Powder Ridge for what turns out to be about $3 million and are now selling it for $700,000 let me explain since that is an important question and, as usual, some misinformation is being circulated to get you to vote down "such a bad deal".  

First, let me state that Powder Ridge ski area was, and I repeat, was worth about $3 million when we bought it in December 2008. Since the ski area started to decline in 2004, 2005 and 2006 its worth as an operating ski area declined as well. However, the real value that made it worth $3 million and more was for housing, not as a ski area.

There is no question that housing has always been the highest and best use for the 250 Powder Ridge acres. Developers salivate over such a large tract of land. Once designed and approved they would have had years of work building the roads and houses. From day one, my promise and focus has been on preserving and defending the town's character. Working the numbers it was never hard to see that the administration and citizens knew that a large subdivision was not in our best interest economically and certainly would change the town's character.

According to the existing zoning and our town planner, the property could have supported 60-80 homes (clustered and free standing). So, in order to eliminate the possibility of a large scale housing development and to preserve the ski area we removed (stripped) the "Development Rights" in the sales agreement to each of the suitors we dealt with. 

When a tract of land has its value stripped, it is not worth what it once was. Along the way to sell the property, it became evident that by stripping the lands real value, the buyer is severely restricted with his options on obtaining financing. I ask, would you buy a building lot and not be able to build a house on it? I assume the answer is no.

Yes, the $700,000 value is a fair sale price in light of the above restriction. To help with an unbiased opinion on value, our Town Assessor has gone over the numbers several times and declared that $700,000 is fair market value.

You should also be reminded that we are culling out (removing) and keeping ownership of a very valuable 22 acre parcel which stretches along the Powder Ridge entry road. This parcel has a value of about $300,000.

So, the above are some of the numbers. Keep in mind that you have been paying for the purchase of Powder Ridge for several years now; it has been in your taxes. I'll bet most didn't even notice that fact. We have already paid off several hundred thousand of principal and when the sale is complete, the town will start receiving taxes, so we can make additional principal payments.

Jon Brayshaw

First Selectman, Middlefield

Laura Williams March 22, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Hi "Fed Up" - I'm fed up too, I leave my comments publicly with my name attached so that the public knows I am not hiding my opinions behind some silly little made up name.
Steven Hodgetts March 22, 2012 at 06:42 PM
The Assessor will NOT say anything to keep his job. The fact is, if the Town keeps the 22 +/- acres it also keeps the development rights. Those rights have not been separated from the land, therefore the value is not diminished.
Ellen Waff March 22, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Sorry, Steve, I should not have “picked on” you. But the Town is not likely to keep those 22 acres....since $300,000 has been put out as the purchase price, not as the intrinsic value. If that land is sold, the development rights stay with the Town. The value is not, then, $300K, but less, and should be more in line with the values assigned to the rest of the property.
Amy Poturnicki March 23, 2012 at 12:52 AM
Regarding Laura William's misleading petition, Brownstone does NOT want to lease! By signing the petition, you are not signing in favor of saving Powder Ridge, you are petitioning against the Powder Ridge Brownstone deal. A lease isn't in the best interest for an investor as in Brownstone's Portland venture. These are two very different endeavors in that Powder Ridge has fixed infrastructure, unlike Portland. They anticipate having to invest an initial minimum of 4 MILLION into restoration and an additional 10 plus MILLION in the next 4-5 years. Why would a lease make sense on fixed infrastucture that you can't take with you? In Portland, a lease made sense because most everything is portable. To put things into perspective, would anyone invest a mega ton of money on a house you just rent...let alone MILLIONS upon MILLIONS into infrastructure of a business property you don't own? Just my two cents. I wish Brownstone all the best in the purchase of Powder Ridge that the Town is currently working on!
Fed Up March 23, 2012 at 09:29 AM
Go ahead, sign it! Watch Powder Ridge turn into either condos with Rick Sabatino, or watch the town spend hundreds and thousands of dollars removing all of the ski lift towers, water lines, electrical lines, junk pool, and buildings as we turn it back to open space! Go ahead, sign it! GOOD BYE POWDER RIDGE!!


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