Balsams gets permits extended

Dixville Capital received conditional approval from the Coos Planning Board Wednesday to rent out three small homes on the property for weddings and other special events.

DIXVILLE — As Les Otten and Dixville Capital still seek the necessary financing to begin the restoration of the Balsams Resort, time is ticking on its regulatory approvals. The project first came before the Coos Planning Board in 2013 and many of the permits granted contained five-year deadlines.

Representing Dixville Capital, Ed Brisson was before the planning board last Wednesday requesting five-year extensions of site plan and subdivisions approvals for redevelopment of the Hampshire and Dix Houses.

Brisson also requested site plan approval to allow the Balsams Resort to rent out three small homes on the property for special events.

Brisson said Otten and the rest of the team are still working to raise the necessary financing to go forward with the project.

“Our goal is still full redevelopment of the Balsams, as you've seen our plans before and various approvals. And I can tell you that no less than two of our team members work daily on trying to obtain financing. And now with COVID behind us, things seem to be looking up a little bit. But they are very busy pursuing and we are hopeful that something will happen,” Brisson said.

The plan calls for renovating and updating both historic buildings, which are described as the centerpiece of the former Balsams Grand Resort hotel. The connector building between the two will be reconstructed. Additions to the Dix House will be demolished and new facades constructed. The renovated buildings will be condominiumized and the rooms sold as timeshares in fractions less than 180 days. Owners of the timeshares will be offered incentives to sell unused days, allowing the property to also operate as a hotel. The application states there will be 119 hotel rooms.

Planning board consultant said Tara Bamford said last December the board extended the Planned Unit Development approval until Jan. 18, 2025. She said in discussing the application with board Chair John Scarinza earlier that day the two agreed to recommend the extensions for the site and subdivision approvals run concurrent with the PUD. All three would expire in January 2025.

Board member Tom McCue said he thought it was easier to keep track of the approval dates if they are were tied together. The board approved the extension. Brisson said having them run concurrent makes sense and indicated he will be submitting additional requests for extensions for subdivisions and site plans that are scheduled to expire in August.

Earlier this year, Dixville Capital announced it planned to make the hotel property available for weddings and private parties, starting this summer. Brisson requested site plan approval to rent out the Captain’s Cottage, the Tillotson House, and the Hale House for such occasions

The resort, he said, always been a popular wedding location and would like to do some small scale events until the renovation can take place. He said the three houses, with a total capacity of approximately 39 guests, would be available for parties hosting events there. Brisson said the Balsams is not interested in renting rooms on a per bedroom basis.

He said the resort could handle a wedding of up to about 150 guests with the wedding party staying on-site and the rest staying in hotels and short-term rentals in the area. He said the Panorama Golf Course is frequent wedding site on the property and for larger scale events they can set up tents and port-a-potties.

Brisson said they will need to get a certificate of occupancy for at least one of the buildings. He said the Hale House has been used for marketing efforts and has a certificate of occupancy. Brisson said it also has a commercial kitchen since it was previously used for the hotel’s culinary students.

He said the Captain’s House has been continuously occupied and is currently used to house staff and for marketing. Brisson said they may have to get a certificate of occupancy for the Tillotson House, which has not been occupied for eight years. The stone house overlooks Lake Gloriette and he described it as being in good shape.

Brisson said in March then assistant State Fire Marshal Shawn Toomey went through the buildings. Based on the input from the fire marshal, Brisson said the team is putting together a list of things it will have to do before having the buildings inspected. All of the buildings have separate septic systems. Since the Tillotson House has not been occupied for some time, the developer will have to design a new system that meets modern standards. But Brisson said they will have four years to install it and the team hopes by that time the redevelopment will be underway and it will tie into the main system being developed.

Brisson also reviewed with the board how emergency services will be handled and noted there is plenty of parking on the property. But he repeated the intent is not to hold huge concerts at this time.

The board approved the site plan conditional upon having certificates of occupancy for each house from the state fire marshal’s office, an approved septic design for the Tillotson House, and a letter of service from the 45th Parallel Ambulance Service. Any large scale tent event would have to follow state Department of Safety requirements.

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