HOOKSETT — After the second day of intense public comment about the proposed construction of a sports dome training facility on Benton Road, the Town Planning Board voted 4-3 on Tuesday to not approve the project.
The vote follows hours of public debate and discussion between concerned citizens of Benton Road, members of the Planning Board, parents and business owners who supported the proposed facility, and representatives from engineering firm TFMoran.
Members went on to table discussion of the dome before votes were made against the project.
Planning Board Chairman Richard Marshall cited traffic and safety concerns raised by many about the heavily traveled Benton Road.
“I believe Benton Road is unsafe — as it is, it’s unsafe — and unless something is changed to make it safer, I can’t support it,” Marshall said.
The facility, proposed by Hooksett-based NH Sports Dome, was designed to consist of an inflated air-support dome over a turf field, occupying approximately 80,000 square feet at 9 and 13 Benton Road.
The plan for the dome included 100 parking spaces and a standalone building that would serve as a locker room. No seating was planned for the sidelines of the arena.
Comments made by TFMoran project manager Nick Golon throughout the course of an April 1 meeting suggested that the proposed facility would only be a training facility; however, supplementary documentation submitted in response to concerns about issues like noise and hours of operation made references to competitive games.
The references to games were poorly received by several board members. Some of them had told Golon on April 1 that they would not support the project if it was to be more than a training facility.
“This applicant, from day one, has represented this from day one as a training facility,” said board member David Boutin. “Training facility means the kids come and play. Maybe they break up into four teams and scrimmage on different parts of the field. But a league game is an entirely different animal. It means more traffic, a totally different kind of traffic.”
Golon said he did not distinguish between training and league games, and went on to clarify that his comments about “no games” were in reference to school team games.
Golon also pointed to documentation submitted on April 1 that referenced the facility’s intent to “host athletic events for youth and adult athletes ... including amateur games” as evidence that league games were never precluded from being held at the dome.
The Planning Board will revisit the motion to deny at its next scheduled meeting.