Planning board approves NHMS concert, Dollar General store 

  • Crowds disperse at the conclusion of the ISM Connect 300 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz

Monitor staff
Friday, November 17, 2017

It was a night of approvals in Loudon.

The planning board gave the green light Thursday for New Hampshire Motor Speedway to hold a one-time, three-day country music festival in the summer of 2018.

The decision was reason to celebrate for New Hampshire Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager David McGrath.

“We are excited to move forward with the plan for a country music festival,” McGrath said in a written statement Thursday. “This will be a terrific family-friendly event and we promise to work hard to make sure the festival is a success.”

The board also approved Dollar General’s application to build a 9,100-square-foot store on Route 106.

Neither the approval for the music festival nor the Dollar General store were made without conditions, however.

The board stipulated that permission for the speedway event be granted only for a one-time 2018 concert between the dates of June 1 and Sept. 1.

After the festival ends, the planning board will review the invasiveness of the event, especially in regards to sound.

“We will discuss how it went and how the noise levels were and what, if anything, will have to be done or changed,” board member George Saunderson said in his motion to approve the speedway’s application.

The board required that the speedway pay for a sound study to be completed during the three-day concert, which will then be compared to the Sintec sound study submitted with the speedway’s application.

This will measure the sound levels not only during concert hours – 2 and 10 p.m. – but also during all other hours of the festival.

McGrath said there would be an 11 p.m. quiet time for those camping at the speedway.

Saunderson said the speedway better heed that limitation. Invasive sound levels were a major concern for neighbors of the speedway who testified to the planning board against the festival.

“The future of the concerts is going to depend on how you control that sound,” Saunderson said.

The speedway will have local and state authorities patrolling the event 24 hours a day. There will be no firearms at the event, as per speedway policy.

“We will treat this as we would any other NASCAR weekend as far as our security measures,” McGrath said.

Like the zoning board, the Loudon planning board decided not to touch the 1989 agreement between the speedway, the town and a group of “Concerned Racetrack Neighbors” that states the speedway “shall not permit any musical concerts of any type ... except in conjunction with racing events.”

Planning board chairman Tom Dow said the applicability of the agreement would be determined in a civil suit, if deemed necessary.

The country music festival would be promoted by Live Nation, a global entertainment company headquartered in Beverly Hills, Calif. The speedway estimates it would bring 20,000 visitors to Loudon.

As for Dollar General, final requirements before approval mostly centered around aesthetics of the store.

Matt Smith, a representative from Bohler Engineering, the firm that represents Dollar General, noted that Dollar General had changed the original design – which called for a yellow store – per request of the planning board to depict a nude-colored store with window shutters.

“I think that ultimately makes the building more muted, and a little more traditional for the area,” Smith said.

The Dollar General store will be 9,100 square feet and will be open would be from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

(Leah Willingham can be reached at 369-3322, lwillingham@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @LeahMWillingham.)