The following editorial appears in the May 26, 2016 issue of the Independent
This week we report on the second rejection in as many years by Ossipee selectmen of an application by Hobbs Tavern to hold concerts on a property be- hind the restaurant. As our reporter Carol Holyoake details in her front page article, the Hobbs request this year is for only two concerts instead of the concert series it proposed last year. Rather than the last-minute request made last year, this proposal was obvious- ly given a lot of thought and took into account the concerns raised by neighborhood abutters last year. Also this year Hobbs had in hand the variance that selectmen said was needed last year.
Despite all of this extra thought and effort and an expressed willingness to work out any remaining is- sues, the selectmen once again refused to issue the needed permit. The reason given, that selectmen were respond- ing to neighborhood concerns, was less than con- vincing since the neighbors had not seen the re- vised plans. At the same time, the board’s rejection begs the question: does Ossipee really want to attract new business to the town?
In the past two years the board has apparently answered that question on a number of occasions with a resounding Yes! To take but one example: when selectmen rejected the Conservation Commission’s request for $3,000 to do a buildout analysis (a process where existing zoning rules are applied to undeveloped land to show how the town will look when all available land in town is developed), a chief concern was that the analysis would be used to con- strain commercial development. Another example is the creation this year of an Economic Development Committee (EDC).
However, when Hobbs Tavern, one of Ossipee’s success stories, comes up with a proposal that will bring customers into Ossipee for concerts, the an- swer is No! There can be little doubt that offering entertainment is a proven way to increase tourism: Wolfeboro keeps people coming into town with over- lapping series of concerts year round – and offering entertainment is a major component of agritour- ism, which the state is now encouraging.
For Hobbs, entertainment will bring diners who will hopefully discover and enjoy its brews as well. At the same time more people coming to West Os- sipee will help the other businesses already there and even encourage others to locate new businesses nearby.
While the selectmen are right to address the con- cerns of Ossipee residents and taxpayers, there is no reason why intelligent arrangements can’t satis- fy legitimate concerns. We urge them to reconsider their rejection of the Hobbs proposal and show that they indeed welcome business development in town.