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Francestown

Simulations show angle of lights at Crotched

Francestown ZBA meeting Wednesday night in the continuing discussion over Crotched Mountain's variance application. No decision was made.

Francestown ZBA meeting Wednesday night in the continuing discussion over Crotched Mountain's variance application. No decision was made. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

FRANCESTOWN — The Zoning Board of Adjustment requested more information from Crotched Mountain Ski and Ride for the board’s next meeting on Oct. 23, detailing the height of ski lift poles, ski lift towers and light poles, in a effort to wrap up lighting issues at the mountain before the ski season begins.

At Wednesday’s meeting, lighting details at the mountain became more definitive after Crotched Mountain representatives presented computer-simulated light angles that show the projection of light from 38 lights on 11 poles added at the top of the mountain in 2012 as part of an expansion. Crotched Mountain is in the process of applying for a variance from Francestown’s outdoor lighting ordinance, which deals with reflected light. Lights are not permitted to be reflected above a horizontal plane established through a given light fixture. In 2012, the Planning Board gave conditional approval for Crotched Mountain’s expansion, requiring the ski resort to install shields on the new lights.

The Crotched Mountain expansion included 11 new lighting poles suspending 38 new light fixtures from 30 to 50 feet in the air, but the exact height of each of the lights is information the board asked Crotched Mountain to provide. Lighting engineer Vic Reno, representing Crotched Mountain, presented maps generated by computer simulations of all the angles of the new lights on the mountain.

Reno presented the ZBA with two maps. One showed the location of all the new lights on the mountain and the angle at which the light is currently mounted. The other map showed these same lights at their given angles, except with simulated shields on the lights, to show the effect of shielded lights. Reno said the angle of the lights, without the simulated shields, is between 70 and 80 degrees, but when he hand-measured 10 lights in the expansion himself, the angles of these lights were pointed down even more than the simulation, closer to 60 or 70 degrees — which means the simulation is off and, according to Reno’s measurements the lights are pointing down more than the simulation shows.

“I’ve worked for five ski places between New Hampshire and Vermont, none have vizors,” Reno said, referring to shields for lights.

Reno could not clarify for the ZBA, however, whether the type of lights used in the shield simulation were the same type of lights used in the simulation without shields. One ZBA member pointed out that the type of light used in one map simulation was not the same as the other map. Reno said this was either the result of a typographical error or the lights in both map simulation are in fact the same type of light.

By Oct. 23, Reno said he would provide the board with information clarifying the types of lights used on the maps, as well as the height of the lights on the lift towers and the exact height of the lift tower lights. General Manager of Crotched Mountain Pat Terry said some of the of the light towers reach 30 feet and some are as tall as 50 feet.

The public hearing was continued following Reno’s presentation. ZBA Chair Silas Little opened the floor to public comment for those in favor of the variance and at that time no one in attendance spoke in favor. With no one speaking in favor, the floor was open for those against the variance, and several people voiced their opinions. Most of the concerns from abutters regarded health concerns about long-term light exposure.

At the end of the meeting, Little talked about a potential independent consultant to review Reno’s information. The board voted to hire Nancy Clanton, an engineer from Colorado, whom Little found after researching a number of organizations and schools, including the Dark Sky Organization, the Illuminating Engineers Society and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y.

In an interview Monday, Little said the board will submit all the lighting information to Clanton via email and will host Skype conversations to discuss her evaluation. Little said he is not sure if any of Clanton’s Skype conversations will take place during a public meeting or how they will proceed with informing the public of Clanton’s findings.

Lindsey Arceci can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 232, or larceci@ledgertranscript.com.

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