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Renovation of Balsams Hotel to start this spring

BERLIN — Demolition and renovation at the Balsams Grand Hotel will get under way this spring with the goal of reopening the grand resort in the summer of 2013.

Dan Hebert, one of the co-owners of Balsams View LLC, gave an overview
of plans for the facility at last week's meeting of the Coos Planning Board.

Hebert said abatement of hazardous materials in the hotel is scheduled
to get under way May 1 and take about three weeks. That will be followed by extensive demolition totaling about 400,000 square feet, including the former Tillotson rubber factor, boiler, and the wind whistle house. The demolition is expected to take two months.

The remaining 130,000 square feet of space will be completely
renovated, and Hebert said about 80,000 square feet of new space will be added. When complete, he said the redesigned hotel should total about 206,000 square feet. The new space will include a conference center, spa, and pool house. The Dix House will be retained and there will be a 14-room tower added to the Hampshire House. The plans call for relocating Cold Spring Road and creating new parking.

Herbert said he and co-owner Dan Dagesse expect to start construction
July 1 and open for business 12 months later.

Hebert asked if a demolition permit from the county is required.
County administrator and board clerk Sue Collins said county regulations do not address major demolition projects.

The project will be required to undergo site plan review and file a
building permit. Board chair John Scarinza said the board will look at lighting, parking, fire safety, and the various building, electrical and plumbing codes. He noted that when Ocean Properties came before the board with its proposal for the hotel, the board decided it would accept stamped architectural and engineering plans and a sign off from the state fire marshal's office and not require an independent inspector. The board voted to follow that procedure this time.

noted that he will hire his own fire engineer to review the plans because there is a huge backlog in the fire marshal's office.

Scarinza suggested the two owners keep Colebrook fire chief Brett
Brooks advised of their plans, and Hebert said he was scheduled to meet with Brooks and a representative of the fire marshal's office.

The board discussed sending a letter to executive councilor Raymond
Burton and Gov. John Lynch, urging that state agencies be made available to avoid delaying the project.

Prior to Hebert's presentation, the board held preliminary subdivision
consultations for both Balsams View LLC and CNL Income Bretton Woods LLC. Andrew Nadeau of Horizons Engineering represented both. Nadeau explained that the Balsams is seeking to divide parcels subject to a conservation easement sold to the Society for the Protection of N.H. Forest and contaminated areas.

He said CNL is looking to separate
parcels so their use is concurrent with boundaries lines. Collins said, however, the deed needs to be corrected before CNL can move ahead with a formal subdivision application.

The board approved a building permit for Alan McLain who proposed to
replace his existing camp in Wentworth Location with a new building that is larger than the old camp. Collins said the camp is in the section of the unincorporated place known as 'Little Berlin'. The lot is grandfathered because it does not meet setback requirements.

Scarinza said the new camp would not be a problem if it fit on the
existing footprint. He noted the county does not have a zoning board that could issue a variance. Collins said the board can waive its requirements. Asked about abutters, Collins said the Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge borders the property on all sides. Board vice chair Fred King moved that the board waive the setback requirements and approve the building permit. The board approved his motion.

The board ratified building permits to David Pike for an addition to
his camp in Success and to Alan Pike for a garage in Success. Collins had approved the permits to allow the work to proceed subject to final approval by the board
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