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Minutes of 2/12/2015

March 9th, 2015

Carroll Board of Adjustment
Meeting Minutes

February 12, 2015

“These minutes of The Town of Carroll Board of Adjustment have been recorded by its Secretary. Though believed to be accurate and correct they are subject to additions, deletions, and corrections by The Board of Adjustment at its next meeting when the Board votes its final approval of the minutes. They are being made available at this time to conform to the requirements of New Hampshire RSA 91-A:2”

Members of the Board present: Chairman Paul Bussiere, David Scalley, John Trammell, Claire Gritzer, ZBA Alternate

Members of the Public present: Steve Hilliard, Manager Omni Mount Washington Hotel, Wayne Presby, Owner and President Mount Washington Cog Railway, Gareth Slattery, Manager Mount Washington Cog Railway, Evan Karpf, recording

Minutes taken by Rena Vecchio, Secretary

Meeting called to order at 7:05

Pledge of Allegiance

Chairman Bussiere opened the meeting by designating Claire Gritzer, a ZBA appointed alternate as of August 13, 2014, to sit as a full board member. She agreed but asked if she could stay at the table where she was because she had everything laid out on it. The board agreed.

Wayne Presby, owner and President of the Mount Washington Cog Railway, was told he could speak to the Five Conditions of a Variance. The board had copies of the application and Gareth Slattery had handed in a plan showing the placement of the locomotive and setbacks.

The five conditions of a Variance and the response from the Mount Washington Cog Railway are:
1. Granting the Variance would not be contrary to the public interest because:
The public interest would benefit from the Cog Railway locomotive sign and display at the beginning of the Base Road. The sign would be unique and enhance the identity of the area. Rarely does a business sign also have “attraction” qualities such as a Cog Railway locomotive. The Cog has been part of this community for 149 years. This sign and locomotive allows the Cog Railway to be in the public eye like the hotel and ski area without diminishing the character of the valley.

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ZBA Minutes

Wayne Presby said that they put in the locomotive on the hill in the center of Twin Mountain, because the Chamber of Commerce said they had wanted to identify with the Cog. The Chamber felt that the Cog Railway was the most unique attraction in the area.

2. If the Variance was granted, the proposed use would not be contrary to the spirit of the ordinance because:
In our discussion with the town Planning Board, the spirit of the ordinance did not apply to this situation. The ordinances original intent was to prevent businesses from placing marketing signs in the back of a pickup truck and moving to various locations throughout the town. The locomotive will be a stagnant display identifying a long established attraction of the White Mountains. The sign and locomotive will be presented in a professional manner and not one contrary to the spirit of the ordinance.

Gareth Slattery, Manager Cog Railway, said he understood that the ordinance was in place to stop businesses from placing signs in the back of a truck and then driving around town with that sign to stop in different places. The locomotive is a “static display” not a vehicle. Mr. Presby said the sign is being placed next to the old railway station and now restaurant, Fabyan Station, so the locomotive will look natural and will enhance the area. A lot of the hotels had started after the Cog was built. The Cog was on the front page of “Scientific American” during the start up because it was a very important and novel thing. It still is.

3. Granting the Variance would do substantial justice because:
Substantial justice would be served by granting this variance. The ability for one of the most recognized attractions in the state to promote and identify itself is at stake. The North Country of NH has limited revenue sources to provide jobs, taxes and reasons for people to visit. The Cog’s ability to promote itself is in direct relationship with those tree needs of the North Country. By allowing this variance, the Cog’s position to support these needs of the North Country, will be enhanced.

Mr. Presby said that the Cog is an iconic attraction and is identified with the Town of Twin Mountain. UNH had done a survey of all the attractions in the State of NH and the Old Man of the Mountains came in as #1. The Cog Railway came in as #2. Unfortunately, because of the falling of the Old Man, the Cog is now #1.

4. If the Variance were granted, the values of the surrounding properties would not be diminished because:
Values of surrounding properties would not suffer devaluation because of the new sign. The Cog was one of the first businesses in the area and supported the development of the community. The locomotive will be placed next to the old railroad station and Maine Central Rail Line. The sign and locomotive are part of the overall character of the area and will only enhance and not detract from surrounding properties.
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We are trying to bring tourist into the area. By doing that we will bring people in to the whole area. They are trying to grow their business, but to bring enough people into the area to help the town, that would be great! The locomotive will enhance the surrounding area.

5. Owing to the special conditions of the property that distinguish it from other properties in the area, denial of the Variance would result in unnecessary hardship because:
The Mount Washington Cog Railway would suffer unnecessary hardship if the Variance was not approved. The intent of the ordinance was to keep businesses from advertising from the back of a pick up or other mobile vehicle. The locomotive would be a static display, in good taste and in keeping the character of other businesses in the area. The current billboard presentation will be improved. The locomotive and sign are in important part of our continued growth through marketing and location identification. The Cog is 6 miles away from Route 302 and needs a strong presence to attract and guide people up the Base Road. The new display helps explain what the Cog Railway does, where it is and shows the uniqueness of the attraction. The locomotive and sign will become a landmark people will identify with the area. By not approving the variance the hardship will be suffered by not only the Cog but also the community. For these reasons, the Cog feels this is a just and reasonable request.

Wayne said the state has a signage requirement that allows for a sign from the state on the roads, as long as you are within 10 miles of the directional sign. The Cog does not qualify because they are so far in on the Base Road. They are actually 12 miles away. So it is rather a hardship.

Steve Hilliard, Manager of the Omni Mount Washington Hotel, said they are thinking about adding kiosks later on that will give the history of the area. There is so much history here we think people would be very interested in it. He said there were 50 trains a day in the area when the hotels were strong.

Chairman Bussiere asked the board if there were any question on the Variance. Dave Scalley wanted to know if the billboard would be coming down, The answer was yes. Paul Bussiere
0.asked if there were any problems with DOT. That answer was no. If the Variance is approved, th
. y will be applying for the State sign permit.

Chairman Bussiere asked if there were any questions from the public or if anyone wanted to talk against this. There were none,

The Chairman said the board will go through each condition and vote on it.
1. Granting the Variance would not be contrary to the public interest.
All agreed.

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2. If the Variance were granted, the spirit of the ordinance would be observed.
All agreed.

3. Granting the Variance would do substantial justice.
All agreed.

4. If the Variance were granted, the values of the surrounding properties would not be diminished.
All agreed,

5. Denial of the Variance would result in unnecessary hardship.
All agreed.

The Chairman told the board they had two choices. One was to table the application until next month when they could further discuss the it or they could make a motion to accept the application.

Claire Gritzer made a motion to: accept the application for a Variance for a new sign for the Mount Washington Cog Railway. John Trammell seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

The secretary said there would be another Variance before the board for the March meeting. Packets will be ready next week.

David Scalley made a motion to: adjourn the meeting. John Trammell seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

The meeting ended at 7:40.