Mason ZBA gives OK to climbing tower business

  • Darrell Scott of Mason monitors from the ground as his granddaughter makes the climb to the top of his climbing tower, which he hopes to be able to open to public groups on a limited basis. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Darrell Scott of Mason monitors from the ground as his granddaughter makes the climb to the top of his climbing tower, which he hopes to be able to open to public groups on a limited basis. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 9/18/2019 3:00:46 PM

Darrell Scott of Mason is hoping to foster a sense of community with his backyard climbing wall, holding rock-climbing sessions with community groups and children as part of a new, not-for-profit entity.

Scott gained a special exception from the Mason Zoning Board on Monday night to operate his 36-foot backyard climbing tower, which he constructed himself, as a business in the General Residential, Agricultural and Forestry District.

Scott said Monday it’s not his intention to have the tower open to the general public or have set business operating hours. Instead, he plans to schedule groups, such as church youth groups or scouting troops or community organizations, once or twice a week for a climbing session. They won’t have to pay, Scott said. When he built the wall, he built it with the idea in mind to create an activity to build a community around, particularly for area children.

“That was the original impetus,” Scott said in an interview Tuesday. “Out here there’s not much activity, and there needs to be something to bind them together and let them have a sense of identity.”

Scott said he first started building the wall in 2011 on his property on 632 Sand Pit Road, and has used it privately or among friends since around 2012, but hasn’t moved forward with the ultimate vision until now. 

Scott, who is a certified wall climbing instructor, said he picked up the hobby when he was in the Army and has continued it throughout his life.

Climbing carries a lot of important lessons for young people, Scott said.

“Belaying someone, knowing you have the responsibility to assist someone and keep them safe is a real confidence booster. Being able to face and conquer your fears – these are things kids need to develop for themselves,” Scott said. 

Scott said he isn’t opposed to also hosting adult groups, but will focus on groups that provide a service to the community, such as local police or fire departments, or agree to perform some community service in exchange for the session. 

“In lieu of paying me, they have to do something for their own community. The intent is to be civic-minded,” Scott said. 

Scott told the Zoning Board he formed a limited liability company, called Climbing Tower of Mason NH, to run the climbs so that he could apply for insurance, but didn’t intend to charge groups, and would only lead at a maximum of two groups a week on the wall, by invitation or personal booking in advance.

Neighbors who attended Monday’s hearing said they didn’t have any issues with the business.

Amy Glowacki, an abutter, said she’s worked in youth program management for national parks, and was impressed with Scott’s business plan, which includes group leaders coming for a session prior to the climb for an orientation and outline of expectations. 

“I understand what he does, and it matches what’s on paper in his business plan, so I’m here in support,” Glowacki said.

Neighbor Lisa Senus also put her support behind the project, saying the climbing wall is well screened from her home and said she doesn’t anticipate any problems with it.

The board approved Scott’s request for a special exception with multiple conditions, most of which Scott had laid out in his application, including that the business would have no more than 20 people on the premises during a session, that the structure be inspected annually, that Scott or another certified instructor be on the premises during climbing, and that no more than six cars would park on property at a time. 

Scott now plans to go to the Planning Board for a site plan review process. 


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