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Planning Board approves Meadowbrook expansion

September 19, 2012
Representatives of the Meadowbrook U.S. Cellular Pavilion gained unanimous approval from the Gilford Planning Board Monday, Sept. 17 for an expansion of their facility to accommodate an additional 1,500 patrons.

Engineer Steve Smith, of Steven J. Smith and Associates, Inc., representing R.J. Harding and Meadowbrook U.S. Cellular Pavilion, said they planned to increase their covered pavilion seating by 2,336 and reduce the lawn seating capacity by 836, for a total increase of 1,500 patrons.

Smith said they also plan to add 182 new parking spaces in a currently wooded area on their property to meet the minimum parking accommodation requirements for the increased capacity.

With this approval, Harding said he planned to have construction finished for the 2013 season, and said they would be open at their usual time around mid May 2013. Though he has two additional permit approvals on the state level, Haring said he was confident the project would move forward.

"This was the last real hurdle," said Harding, pleased with the support from both Board and community members at the meeting.

Planning Board members and some residents present at the meeting voiced concern over possible traffic congestion with the increase in capacity for each show. Though Board and community members agreed that the traffic congestion from Meadowbrook shows has improved over the past few years, the additional capacity may increase local traffic congestion.

According to Police Chief Kevin Keenan, other than a few occasions, traffic congestion did not extend beyond Meadowbrook Lane, and he did not have much concern with the increase patron capacity. To relieve concerns of traffic congestion, especially for patrons leaving shows, Harding said they planned to construct an alternate access road connecting to Kimball Road connecting to Lilly Pond Road.

According to Smith, they would wait to gain revenue from the additional seating capacity in the 2013 season to fund the additional access road, which they would construct for the 2014 season.

Harding said that with the Planning Board approval, he hoped the alternate access road would be completed for the 2013 season and immediately accommodate prospective increase of patrons. He said this would warrant additional approval from Laconia Officials as the plan did not cross land in Gilford.

Planning Board Chair John Morgenstern amended the motion to accept the project application to include new sound reading to make sure the new facility did not exceed the previously set decibel level.

When Morgenstern opened the meeting to public input, local business owners Allen Beetle, with Patrick's Pub and Eatery, and Larry Hahn, Town Place Suits general manager, supported the expansion, as they said Meadowbrook patrons usually support their businesses, as well.

"When they're busy, there is more business. There is more revenue for everyone else," said Hahn.

Residents Susan Leach and Charles Bouchard spoke in support of the expansion.

"They have really been a good neighbor," said Bouchard, who had complained about noise levels in the past.

He said that once he brought his complaint to Harding, Harding worked to address his concerns.

An attorney representing an undisclosed number of local property owners spoke against the expansion, as he said his clients had a concern that the increased capacity at the music venue would cause traffic congestion in the area. Morgenstern did not ask him who specifically he represented and this did not seem to effect Board members' decision as they unanimously supported the expansion.

Harding said this expansion would help bring acts to Meadowbrook, as it would allow them to be more competitive with other venues in the area.

AJ Coleman
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Varney Smith
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