Progress made on Crotched lights

Progress is being made in Crotched Mountain’s efforts to shield the lights installed in its 2012 expansion. On Nov. 26, the Francestown Zoning Board ruled that Crotched could continue operating under the condition that the shields would be installed to comply with an outdoor lighting variance.

As of last week, Francestown Code Enforcement Officer Ed Hunter said he last spoke with Crotched General Manager Pat Terry on Feb. 3, at which time Terry told Hunter the shields were still on order.

However, Terry said in an interview Thursday that so far Crotched has installed three shields for the expansion. He didn’t order all the necessary shields at once, he said, because the mountain staff needed to evaluate if they would fit and work properly with their lights. “I didn’t want to order all these visors until we knew they worked,” Terry said.

The shields don’t just clamp onto the lights. “It’s a technical system,” Terry added.

In a previous interview, Hunter said he established a deadline for installation between the town and Crotched in a letter sent to both parties at the end of December. Hunter wrote that the project should be completed by Jan. 22. This letter was written shortly after Hunter visited Crotched Mountain on Dec. 26.

“I wasn’t aware [Jan. 22] was a hard deadline,” Terry said. In an interview Monday, Terry said he has not spoken with Hunter for several weeks.

There are some shields that cannot be installed until after the ski season, due to the amount of accumulated snow on the mountain or the location of the light pole, Terry said. Some lights are fairly quick to get to, Terry said, whereas others are located on steep slopes that are hard to reach. More shields are on order and have not arrived yet. He is still waiting on a delivery date for these shields, he said, and that will determine when they can be put up.

“It paints the picture that Crotched doesn’t care,” Terry said, referring to comments made by Francestown residents and others who said Crotched is waiting until the ski season is over to install the shields. “We’re following our due diligence with this.”

Terry could not estimate how long it takes to install a single shield because each location is different, and he would not comment on the cost per shield.

In recent lighting evaluations, Terry said he thinks the mountain will need an additional light fixture in the new expansion to compensate for the shielded light. As established at past Zoning Board meetings, the board permitted the construction of additional lights as long as these new fixtures also had shields installed.

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