By DAVID CARKHUFF, LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD — First the voters and now the Planning Board have cleared the way for the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion at Meadowbrook to install a swimming pool and a "lazy river" float feature.
But some members of the board and the public are worried about noise and other unintended consequences.
The Planning Board ultimately added one condition, a stipulation that the venue's exemption from the town noise ordinance ends at 11 p.m.
Article 23, a new noise ordinance approved by voters on March 14 by a vote of 542-361, limits noise from equipment between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. and otherwise prohibits "unreasonable noise." But the ordinance exempts Meadowbrook Pavilion, as well as several other locations, including schools, churches, medical facilities, Gunstock Recreation Area, Ellacoya State Park, Marine Patrol at Glendale, Lake Winnipesaukee and Laconia Airport. The 1995 ordinance which this article supersedes did not exempt locations but allowed the use of sound projection devices by town-licensed functions or activities.
R.J. Harding, president of the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion at Meadowbrook, reminded the board that the venue operates under an 11 p.m. curfew for live performances.
The pool and the lazy river will be located out behind the pavilion in a backstage area, said Peter Howard, consultant with Steve Smith and Associates. The lazy river will be about 350 feet long, 170 feet each way, he said.
Howard said the proposed pool and lazy river plaza straddles a newly rezoned 9.44-acre parcel being sold by Barry Dame to Meadowbrook Farm LLC.
On the town warrant, Zoning Article 2, to change the zoning of the property, passed 670-305 on March 14.
Groups as large as 150 people often accompany performers, Howard said, and the new pool and lazy river feature will be used by the performers and their entourages, not the public.
"Meadowbrook is trying to promote the groups staying longer than a day," he said.
Planning Board member Jerry Gagnon said he wanted to make sure speakers would not blast music from poolside.
"No, nothing tied to the big system, no," Harding said. "We may have a distributable system, like small, little speakers so that if they're sunbathing they can listen to music, but it certainly won't be anything with any volume."
Harding said the location features woods and foliage around it with at least 200 feet of buffer separating the pool and lazy river from the nearest neighbor.
Planning Board member Carolyn Scattergood said, "I assume after a performance, the performers and their entourage can go up and use this, and is there going to be an outside limit, like 2 in the morning that it would shut down, or is it going to be open all night?"
Harding said, "We haven't taken the conversation that far about a specific curfew, but we certainly wouldn't want to disturb anybody's peace. I'm hoping that we have enough coverage and space there where it won't bother anybody because there's not going to be any volume or loud music or anything like that. But these are nightcrawlers, these people, they start their day at 3 in the afternoon."
Most of the use should happen during the day, particularly when crews have finished setting up the stage and have down time, Harding said.
The New Hampshire Liquor Commission oversees alcohol consumption at the site, so it won't be a "free for all," he said.
With 22 years in the community, Harding said, "if there's a problem we'll fix it," he said.
Mark Lariviere, president of Yacht Club Vista Condominium Association, said members of the association shared concerns about hours of operation.
"At night, you can hear people talking like they're standing right next to you," Lariviere said.
"If they're out there having parties and drinking beer and raising hell, that's the concern that the people at Yacht Club Vista have," he said.
The bands operate under an 11 p.m. curfew, Harding reiterated, and he said the parties typically won't project as much sound as a concert.
Lariviere said he's a volunteer board president and doesn't want to field constant complaints. "They'll be calling me, saying, 'There's a lot of noise up there,' and what do I do?"
Dame attended the meeting and asked what was apparently a rhetorical question about how large the parcel would be to house the pool and lazy river, noting that less than half an acre would be developed in nearly a 10-acre parcel.
But Lariviere warned of "secondary effects" from changes, such as parking fees that he said prompted foot traffic to spill into neighboring lots.
When the concerts end, attendees come down through Misty Harbor Barefoot Beach Resort and cross the condo association lot, "urinating in the bushes, throwing stuff around," he said.
Noting the flow of foot traffic onto Route 11B, Lariviere said, "People are crossing that street. I saw little kids almost get killed last year."
The problems could only escalate with changes, he said.
"This is the tip of the iceberg," Lariviere warned of the new development.
"That's the first I've heard that that's an actual serious issue," Harding said of the parking problems, noting that other abutters could account for the overflow.
The Planning Board approved the upgrades with the noise ordinance notation. Other site improvements include a patio and walkway, security fencing, retaining walls, drainage, landscaping and an arched footbridge over the lazy river.