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Francestown

Crotched granted lighting variance

Resort must add visors to 38 lights

FRANCESTOWN — The Zoning Board granted Crotched Mountain Ski and Ride a variance from the town’s outdoor lighting ordinance on Tuesday, but the resort must put visors on all 38 lights installed during the 2012 expansion.

Crotched Mountain general manager Pat Terry said numerous times during the meeting that if the ski resort is required to put visors on the new lights, the resort will need to put up more lights to ensure skier safety. The Zoning Board agreed that the mountain could put up additional lights as long as they include visors .

In an interview Wednesday, Terry said Crotched isn’t planning to install the new light structures until after the ski season . The delay brings the issue of skier safety even more to the forefront.

“Obviously we’re concerned about skier safety,” Terry said. “We’re concerned with how we’re going to accomplish meeting the national standard for sky area lighting while we put the visors on and put up the new lights.”

Following the meeting, Select Board member Scott Carbee of Francestown said in an interview that Crotched Mountain can still open Saturday, even without the visors , citing a 30-day grace period.

“They [Crotched Mountain] are in limbo for the next 30 days because someone might protest the decision,” Carbee said. “After 30 days the code enforcement officer can go check and ask, ‘What’s your plan? When is this happening?’ They [Crotched Mountain] can start ordering visors and putting them up now.”

According to Francestown Town Administrator Michael Branley on Wednesday, the lights installed during the 2012 expansion are technically within Francestown town lines and therefore, the Francestown Code Enforcement Officer, Ed Hunter, will be the one to work with Crotched Mountain regarding the ruling.

After months of debate, the ZBA agreed to grant the variance with the visor provision because the shields prevent the light from going above a horizontal plane and are also proven to reduce spill light and glare.

In response to the visor discussion, Terry said Crotched has never seen visors as the best solution. “It’s inexpensive to put on visors. It’s more expensive to come to these meetings,” Terry said Tuesday night. He said his issue with visors is they create inconsistent lighting, requiring the mountain to install more light fixtures.

Although the turnout for Tuesday’s meeting was smaller than previous packed Zoning Board hearings, there were plenty of people speaking for and against the variance application.

Celeste Lunetta of Francestown said at the meeting that she is in favor of granting the variance because, “it is critical that they [Crotched Mountain] are well-lit.”

Hancock resident Ted Leach, who has been vocal about the resort’s need to follow the local ordinance, said in an interview Wednesday that he has no problem with the variance being granted because it’s effectively telling Crotched Mountain that it must obey the law. “No one’s trying to shut them down. We just want them to get it right,” Leach said.

Fred Ward of Stoddard, who has opposed the variance application, said in an interview Wednesday that granting the variance with the visor condition isn’t really granting it at all. “The caps will help but it really won’t make a difference,” Ward said. “Our big problem is that the ski area lights up half of southern New Hampshire with night skiing.”

Midway through the meeting, Zoning Board Chair Silas Little caused a stir with remarks directed at skiers . “If you’re stupid enough to put a pair of boards on your feet and go down a slope, you can’t sue the mountain if you get hurt, not in New Hampshire,” Little said.

Several of those in attendance spoke out against his use of the word “stupid.”

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

I read that Crotched Mountain has not complied with the Francestown lighting ordinance since they were issued their original construction building permit more than ten years ago now. Shouldn't all of the lights at the facility be capped per the original permit? I've never heard of any business entity that was above the zoning rules as written in the municipality they operate in.

" Never be afraid of doing something stupid" Homer Simpson

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