The Rutland Herald in Vermont is reporting that Thomas Durkin, an environmental judge, has issued an emergency order against the new owner of Haystack Ski Area to halt construction immediately on what is planned to be a “new luxury ski resort.”

The order says that state environmental investigators had been trying to get Hermitage Inn Real Estate to stop performing “unpermitted work and correct severe erosion problems since Oct. 26.” Bob Ruben, a vice president for Hermitage Inn Real Estate Holding Co., the order claims, told investigators on Dec. 12 that work would not stop unless “directed to do so.” The plan is to link the Hermitage Inn to the ski area.

More allegations in the order note workers built an illegal 1.5 mile snowmobile trail through steep terrain that was supposed to be conserved for “critical black bear habitat” according to its land use permit; and that construction workers had “ignored state environmental officials, their concerns and violated conditions of the permits it did have and had undertaken other work knowing they didn’t have the required permits.”

James Barnes, who is described by the Herald as a “millionaire Connecticut businessman,” owns both the Hermitage Inn and the ski area. He bought the ski area which has been dormant for seven years a year ago and changed its name to the Hermitage Club. Barnes plans call for a private luxury resort with a limited number of lift tickets sold to Wilmington and Dover residents. He has also asked the two towns to loan him funds to finance the purchase and improvement of Mount Snow Airport.

Construction underway reportedly includes land clearing for a ski lift and associated ski trails, a summit building, 10-unit guest building, a single-family home, and a drinking water and sewer line.

Photo: Haystack Ski Area, circa. 1960s (nelsap.org)