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Minutes of 4/7/2022 (REVISED)

May 10th, 2022

Planning Board Minutes of 4/7/2022 REVISED

Town of Carroll Planning Board
Meeting Minutes
April 7, 2022
7 PM

“These minutes of the Town of Carroll Planning Board have been recorded by its Secretary. Though believed to be accurate and correct, they are subject to additions, deletions, and corrections by the Planning Board 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.”
Planning Board Members present: Chairperson Alex Foti, Vice Chairperson Austin Alvarez, Julie Rosebery, Donna Foster, Tom Godfrey, Bryan Mycko (Alternate) and Selectmen’s Representative, David Scalley.
Public present: Mr. Richard Harris
Minutes were taken by Austin Alvarez.
1. The meeting was called to order by Chairperson, Alex Foti, at 7:01 PM.
2. Alex led those present in the Pledge of Allegiance.
3. Approval of March 3, 2022 Minutes.
a. The Board clarified that, while Omni’s representative implied in multiple instances that their appearance in front of the Board was optional and driven by an arbitrary request by the Board rather than a condition imposed by the Board when it approved a 5-year extension of the Sprung Building, that is actually not the case. The reason Omni was required to appear in front of the Board can be found in the publicly available Notice of Decision dated November 11, 2018 and signed by then Chairman of the Planning Board Michael Hogan as well as Secretary Rena Vecchio, in which it is stated that the site plan application was approved “for the five year extension for the Alpine Club [..] with the condition that you come before the Planning Board in three years with plans for a permanent building.”
b. After some discussion regarding Alex Foti’s inability to communicate clearly via the remote Zoom connection on March 3, 2022, or to respond to Omni’s memorandum for the recusal request, Alex agreed to post his comments/response on a post-script to the April meeting minutes, to be reviewed and approved at the May meeting (see Attachment 1). The minutes of the March 3, 2022 meeting were then approved on a motion by Julie Rosebery and a second by Bryan Mycko. Donna Foster abstained.
4. Old Business: Consultation by Evan Karpf, usage of property as rental space for storage units. Mr. Karpf was not in attendance and did not contact the Board or provide rationale for not appearing.
5. New Business: Tiny Ventures Voluntary Merger. Alex signed the merger documents.
6. Election of Officers: Austin Alvarez nominated Alex Foti for Chairperson of the Planning Board. After a brief discussion, Alex agreed to continue as the Chair and Austin Alvarez agreed to continue as Vice Chair. After a motion by Julie Rosebery and second by Tom Godfrey, both members were elected to continue their service. David Scalley noted that he has been trying to find a person that would be willing to serve as Secretary, but has been unsuccessful. In the meantime, the Board will continue to rotate meeting minutes until a Secretary has been hired.
7. New Business: David Scalley handed out copies of the latest version of the Town of Carroll Master Plan, adopted by the Planning Board, June 11, 2015. A discussion ensued on the benefit of updating to Master Plan to determine needs of the community going forward. Since the last version was issued significant changes, including the completion of the new Public Safety and Town Hall buildings and major changes to the Omni Mount Washington Hotel properties, have occurred. In addition, the dearth of restaurants, as well as staff for chefs and servers, in the community should be addressed as it directly impacts tourism, a key driver of the town’s economy. David Scalley raised the question of whether there were funds available in the budget for such an effort. Finally, it was agreed to add the Master Plan to the agenda for the next Planning Board meeting on May 5, 2022.
8. Adjourn: The meeting was adjourned at 8:02 PM on a motion by David Scalley and seconded by Julie Rosebery.

Respectfully submitted, Austin Alvarez
For Review by Planning Board, 4/9/2022


ATTACHMENT 1: Alex Foti Explanation of Reasons for Recusals from Omni Mount Washington Sprung Building Discussion of March 3, 2022.
Per RSA 673:14, I, “no member of a zoning board of adjustment, building code board of appeals, planning board, heritage commission, historic district commission, agricultural commission, or housing commission shall participate in deciding or shall sit upon the hearing of any question which the board is to decide in a judicial capacity if that member has a direct personal or pecuniary interest in the outcome which differs from the interest of other citizens, or if that member would be disqualified for any cause to act as a juror upon the trial of the same matter in any action at law.”
When Mr. Hildreth, attorney for Omni Mount Washington, requested my recusal, I was initially confused as to what I was to recuse from. Per RSA above, the recusal should be related to a decision or “the hearing of any question which the board is to decide in a judicial capacity.” However, Omni was appearing in front of the Board simply to provide an update on the status of the Condition that had been set on the Notice of Decision provided to Omni in 2018. There was no public hearing set on the matter, no application being reviewed, and no decision to be made by the board. Therefore, recusal appeared unwarranted since there would be no vote on any matter.
Omni provided to the Board a “motion for recusal” document focused on what Omni’s attorney describes as a “single minded vendetta” by Chairman Foti against Omni. Having a had a chance to review, this memorandum appears to be dotted with misquotes and misrepresentations aimed at creating a narrative that fits the idea of some sort of “vendetta.” However, I would like to make clear that the simple idea of a “vendetta” is absolutely ludicrous. Yes, I have expressed my concern over some important issues: the fact that, in spite of promises by General Manager Debottis at Planning Board in 2018 that the new hotel rooms would not result in restrictions to restaurant access for local residents and visitors, for months owners and visitors have been unable to make reservations at Omni restaurants and spas; the fact that we have received feedback from guests who said that, after visiting Bretton Woods for 20+ years, they will be going to Vermont instead because of the inability to eat a local restaurant, or this public review left by an area visitor:
“Now that Omni is enforcing the usage of the Mt. Washington Hotel Dining and Spa as well as the elimination of Ski School programs for children and closing of Fabayans nearby restaurant there are much better places to take your family to ski, it’s obvious OMNI is focused on the Hotel”
I’ve also been vocal about the fact that Omni’s discontinuation of the shuttle service, a long-standing amenity for local owners and guests, has significant implications not only for convenience and overall area “attractiveness,” but for public safety; we have seen people parked in ditches and illegal spots during busy days this winter, and we have concerns that people will drive drunk after attending a wedding at the Omni since the shuttle will no longer serve them. Similarly, I have raised concerns over the state of some highly visible Omni buildings, especially the old Rec Center at the base of Bretton Woods, whose state does not promote the image of a mainstream, classy ski area, and which is not only something that visitors ask about all the time, but in violation of section 510.3 of our Zoning Ordinance.
Those concerns have been brought up to Omni’s attention first, but my attempts to collaborate on finding a solution were not met with any willingness to engage in a productive dialogue. I have therefore also involved the Chamber of Commerce, and asked them to try and get Omni to work with us to come up with a solution, but Omni also refused to sit down and discuss with that organization as well.
The sum of all of this, however, is that my actions represent those of a concerned citizen, elected official, and business owner whose goal is to attract MORE visitors to the area and ensure their satisfaction. My goal is to protect and improve the reputation of this area, which will actually be beneficial to Omni as well. I fail to see how my desire to see this area succeed represents the “single-minded vendetta” described by Mr. Hildreth, nor do I think that these actions, which very much align with the interest of the general public, would represent a cause for recusal for any Omni-related matter at Planning Board.
However, there ARE valid reasons for my recusal for any reviews or public hearings connected to Omni’s Sprung Building. In fact, I have a personal and financial interest in 1) the continuing operation of the Sprung building, and 2) the expansion of the resort and the creation of a base area, which had been discussed in 2018 as a possible permanent replacement for the Sprung building. The reasons for this are:
1. I am a member of the Bretton Woods Club, which is hosted by the Sprung Building. Any negative decision on the Sprung Building would negatively impact me. I have a very direct interest in approving any renewal of the Sprung Building or replacement for it. The last thing I want is for it to go away.
2. I own a condo within walking distance of the base area and I represent many other owners in a similar position. The development of the base area will, in my opinion, have a huge positive effect on home values, therefore I stand to financially benefit from any approval of this development.
3. Most importantly, I own a business which, while it may appear to be tenuously in competition with Omni, is very directly affected in a positive way by Omni's success. Contrary to the case that Mr Hildreth's tried to make, the better Omni does, the better my company does. The more visitors come to Bretton Woods, the more successful my company will be. The better the hotel looks, the better my business does. Ironically, you will see that the majority of the complaints that Mr. Hildreth cited are situations in which, if Omni were to follow my request, Omni would make money (I am inclined to assume that restaurant visitors would be paying a bill). I am not advocating to let people eat at restaurants for free. I am advocating that Omni focus and put additional effort on EXPANDING their business, not contracting it, and work on an appropriate message that leaves visitors with a better impression of Omni and the area as a whole when such expansion of service is not possible in the short term.
In short, yes, I did need to recuse myself because my personal interest is in promoting Omni and approving of any expansion plans that they may have. There is no personal vendetta, and I continue to support Omni and promote their presence and their business, in spite of Omni’s seeming inability to see that. We have a rare opportunity in this town. There are few areas of the country blessed with such natural beauty, and Omni’s Mount Washington Hotel is a perfect accent to it. In addition, I continue to praise Omni for running a very, very strong ski area operation – Mr. Hildreth’s exhibits themselves show me stating that Bretton Woods is “the best ski area” of all of those I’ve traveled to. And I do that very publicly.
I came to serve on this board because I see a town and a community full of potential. Look at Stowe, VT and what they did, the brand that they created, the wealth that they created in the process for not only Vail Resorts but every business and every resident. I look around at Carroll and its villages of Twin Mountain and Bretton Woods and I see a place that's many times better, but has failed to flourish because of a lack of leadership and because of the inability of businesses to think innovatively and come together as one to promote the area as a whole. I would invite Omni to join me, this board, and the other business leaders in leading this community towards a better future. We are about to celebrate our 250th anniversary - let's make our future bright so that in another 250 years we can be recognized as those who saw the potential in this area and worked together to realize that potential for all the members of this beloved community. I hope Omni will join me in trying to make this a better place for everyone, and not just for Omni guests, because in the end, everyone – including locals, local owners, and visitors, could become an Omni guest at some point, especially after they are exposed to the beauty of the area and the hotel itself. But dilapidated buildings, shattered restaurants and bickering businesses are not in the best interest of anyone.