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B'stead planners discuss change of use for Surf Shack

June 23, 2009
BARNSTEAD — Dave Preston, owner of the former Surf Shack restaurant on Route 28 (now a children's theater) appeared before the planning board last week in hopes of clearing up a misunderstanding concerning the change in use.

Informing the board that he planned to host a summer theater camp for local children at the site, Preston explained that he recently drafted a new agreement with the Locke Lake Colony Association authorizing the use of the property for that purpose.

Neither party, he said, was aware that according to town regulations, the proposal needed the board's approval.

The camp, which Preston said will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the week from July through mid-August, has been designed as a way to raise awareness of the arts in young children.

There will be no overnight stays involved, and no activities such as swimming, Preston explained, adding that there will be three CPR-certified adults on hand for every 10 children, and that the children will not be allowed to leave the premises.

In addition to the camp, he said, the Hampstead Stage Co. will also be hosting a series of performances at the new theater this summer.

Walking the board through the renovations made to the building, Preson explained that 47 salvaged movie theater seats were installed (including two handicapped seats), the kitchen gutted and converted into a dressing room, and a stage built in the former dining area.

Deputy Fire Chief Rodney Boyd inspected the building and issued an occupancy permit, he said.

Board Vice Chair Bill Evans (sitting in for Chairman Dave Murley) advised Preston against running the camp without the board's approval.

Noting that a site plan review was normally required for a change of use, and that Preston had missed the deadline for being placed on the July agenda, Evans warned him that if he were to go ahead with his plans, he would be doing so at his own risk.

Explaining that he had been a month behind in obtaining the necessary paperwork, Preston asked if there was anything he could do short of a site plan review.

Evans said the board would need a copy of the occupancy permit for its files, as well as a complete schedule of shows and the number of children attending the camp. He also suggested that Preston complete the site plan review application and submit it as soon as possible.

Switching topics, Preston said he also wanted to discuss the issue of off-site signage for businesses, specifically his feeling that it should be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Board member Mike Kowalski (who, along with Evans, is currently reviewing the sign ordinance) said he would be willing to sit down with Preston and discuss the issue.

Concert parking deemed adequate

Recording secretary Paula Vardaro informed the board that Brooks Young, the newly-hired coordinator for concerts at St. Paul's Church, had called to explain that school officials wanted him to sign a $1 million liability clause before allowing him to use the school lot for overflow parking.

Young, she said, took exception to the school district's request in light of the fact that teachers and other school employees have been allowed to park in the church's lot without any sort of agreement in place.

The board deemed the existing parking area surrounding the church to be sufficient for concerts.

Out of order?

Addressing an extensive discussion the board had during its June business meeting with resident Anne Long (who came to voice her concerns about the operations of Lakes Region Pellets, Inc.), Kowalski said that in his opinion, Long was completely out of order.

She should have been told to make an appointment to appear before the board with her concerns, and should not have been allowed to take up 45 minutes of the board's time with an issue that was not on the agenda that evening, he said.

Evans said that while it would be difficult to enforce such a stance, the board could try imposing time limits on unscheduled public input.

Board member Clarke Goodrich agreed that a time limit should be established and enforced by the chairman.

Next meeting

The board's next meeting has been scheduled for Thursday, July 2, at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

Brendan Berube can be reached at 569-3126 or bberube@salmonpress.com

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