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Court Ruling Favors Mt. Sunapee Ski Operators

Concord — A state judge has ruled that the operators of Mount Sunapee Resort should be allowed to access state land they need to connect the ski area with private property they hope to develop in Goshen, N.H.

The ruling released late Friday by Merrimack Superior Court Judge Larry Smukler said Mount Sunapee State Park land leased to Tim and Diane Mueller includes some 175 acres to the northern and western boundaries.

Those acres are adjacent to private property the resort operators bought with the intention of building condominiums with access to the ski slopes.

The state under then-Gov. John Lynch fought the planned development, arguing that the state shouldn’t relinquish its property to enhance the value of a private complex.

The Sunapee Resort officials argued that their 1998 lease extended to the edge of the state park, and did not contain a buffer zone, and the court on Friday agreed. “The record does support a finding ... that the parties agreed that the northern and western boundaries would be coterminous with the state park boundary,” the ruling said.

The case spent several years in court. Assistant Attorney General Richard Head said the state is reviewing the decision and hasn’t decided yet whether to appeal.

Tom Elliott, a spokesman for Friends of Mount Sunapee, which opposes the Goshen expansion, said he hopes the state appeals to the Supreme Court, and said the proposed linkage to the private land would still need approval from the governor and Executive Council.

“The Governor and (Executive) Council’s public trust responsibility remains unaffected by this ruling, and their authority to deny any cross-border agreement is undisputed,” Elliott said. — Associated Press