Engineer Bob Harrington told members of Dover’s municipal impact committee that the airport project would bring the runway up to FAA standards, add a taxiway down the east side of the runway, and increase the total number of hangars to 10 with the addition of five new hangar buildings.
Most of the new construction at the airport will take place in Wilmington, but because all access to the airport is through Dover, the town’s fire and police departments will remain first responders to any incidents at the location.
Harrington said the project will extend the 2,650-foot runway to 4,880 feet. The 4,880 feet includes 240 feet of paved buffer at both ends of the runway. All of the additional runway will be located on the Wilmington end, although clearing of vegetation in the FAA-mandated “object-free zone,” around the edges of the runway, will occur on both sides of the border.
Harrington characterized the runway work as a “safety improvement project,” and said it would not mean an increase in the size of the aircraft that are allowed to use the airport.
Hermitage Club Vice President of Construction and Development Bob Rubin said the company has agreed to install safety shutoffs and alarms that fire officials can access, install a pressurized hydrant system, fund fuel safety training for the Dover and Wilmington fire departments, and provide funding for firefighting foam to be used by the departments. Rubin said the Hermitage Club also agreed to allow use of the airport as a landing point for emergency air ambulance services when needed.
Harrington said the pressurized hydrant system, which taps into a 240,000-gallon fire pond at Partridge Run, is in the permitting phase. “It’s in a wetlands buffer area, and we have to identify all of the wetlands and work around them. The master plan includes a noise study, traffic study, and wildlife study, and we’ll have to mitigate for that.” Harrington said the wetlands permits should take about a year to obtain.
Dover resident Don Albano asked what kind of jets would be landing at the airport. “They’re what the FAA calls B1 category jets,” Harrington said, “basically small jets and small planes up to a wingspan of 50 feet and up to 20 feet high.”
West Dover Fire Chief Rich Werner noted that, because of the mountains surrounding the approach, larger jets would not be able to land at the airport regardless of the runway length.
Albano asked if Hermitage Club representatives were “satisfied” with the conditions imposed on the project by the Wilmington Development Review Board. “I think we’re satisfied with what they came up with,” Rubin said. “We’re working with them.”
Albano suggested Dover’s conditions should be compatible with those set by Wilmington. “It doesn’t make sense to have a noise limit of 65 decibels in Dover and have it change to 75 decibels halfway down the runway.”
Hermitage Club officials also discussed the construction of two new lodging buildings, as well as construction of an access road, and four slopeside single family homes.
Harrington said the lodging buildings were a change to an earlier proposal to build a single 10-unit addition to the Hermitage Inn. Instead, the revised plan calls for a five-unit addition to the north side of the inn, and another five-unit building that will be located at the entrance, just across the covered bridge on the left. Harrington said the building would have sprinklers, and have 60% access around the exterior for firefighting apparatus.
To mitigate parking problems observed last winter, Rubin said the Hermitage Club has hired a valet company to handle parking at the Hermitage site. “A detailed parking map has been created and we’ll make sure the fire lanes are open at all times. All of the new attractions and buildings will have parking to avoid blocking access.”
The four single-family homes will be built to the west of the inn, near the ski trail. Harrington said they’ll be accessible by a 24-foot road with a turnaround. “They haven’t been designed yet, but we envision a carriage house style,” he said.
The buildings at the Hermitage Inn site will have sewer service through the North Branch Fire District.
When asked for a timeline for construction, Rubin said the schedule would depend on the permitting agencies, and expansion at the North Branch treatment facility. “We’d like to have construction underway next spring,” he said.