Crotched to apply for variance over lighting concern

Planning Board sends notice of violation

FRANCESTOWN — The town’s Select Board is giving Crotched Mountain Ski and Ride another month to address lighting issues related to the ski area’s high-speed chairlift. The ski area is located in both Francestown and Bennington, and residents whose homes face the mountain have complained about glare from the lights that were added before the lift opened in December 2012.

Planning Board members asked the Select Board to issue a cease-and-desist order, which would have prevented the lift from being used for night skiing, after Crotched Mountain officials didn’t attend June 18 Planning Board meeting where the issue was discussed.

The Select Board didn’t go that far. Town Administrator Mike Branley said the board voted Monday to send the ski area an official notice of violation, based on a recommendation from Code Enforcement Officer Ed Hunter.

“The letter will lay out their deficiencies and give them 30 days to rectify them,” Branley said. “It will be sent out this week.”

Branley said the ski area is in violation of a section of the zoning ordinance dealing with lighting at recreational facilities, which states “all fixtures used for event lighting shall be fully shielded so that no direct light is projected about a horizontal plane passing through the light sources, and be designed or provided with sharp cut-off capability, so as to minimize up-light, spill-light and glare.”

Branley said Crotched Mountain is in the process of applying for a variance from the Zoning Board of Adjustment, which could give the ski area relief from the zoning requirement.

“A meeting on a variance would probably be held in August,” Branley said. “They would still need to go back to the Planning Board after getting a variance.”

Pat Terry, the general manager for Crotched Mountain Ski and Ride, confirmed on Wednesday that the company was seeking a variance.

“We are looking for variance to release us from the ordinance,” Terry said. “It’s really not applicable to ski area lighting. Our lighting conforms to industry and national standards, and that’s what we want to use.”

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