By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD — After many years of looking for a site and an investor, the Gilford Village Knolls III project is ready for site plan review from the town's Planning Board.
The proposed Village Knolls III, which is a 24-unit low-income senior housing project at 43 Potter Hill Road, site plan application will be heard Monday at 7 p.m. by the Gilford Planning Board.
The Village Knolls III is the third of three planned senior affordable housing units in Gilford Village. Both Village Knolls I and II were completed by the late 1980s with Knoll I located at land belonging to the late Milo "Red" Bacon's home and Knolls II on property on Potter Hill Road that abuts Bacon Avenue.
The property for Village Knolls III belonged to the town of Gilford and was sold in 2004 by Bacon as a site for the proposed new library. A capital reserve fund provided $100,000, and $40,000 came from private donations.
While voters at Town Meeting said yes to buying the land, they rejected a $2.25 million bond to build a new library. SB-2 in Gilford went into effect in 2005 and voters again rejected a bond for a new library.
In 2006, Richard and Betty Persons offered to give the town $3 million to build a library 41 Potter Hill Road.
The library was built in 2007 and the Friends of the Gilford Library (a not-for-profit fundraising arm separate from the library) asked the town for $110,000 with the appropriation to be funded only if the town could sell the lot at 43 Potter Hill Road.
In 2008, selectmen agreed to sell the lot to the Village Knolls for $150,000 but a few members of the Budget Committee mounted a petition to stop the sale because they didn't want Gilford to have any additional low-income property. The Village Knolls withdrew its offer.
When selectmen later tried to sell the property at 43 Potter Hill Road for $150,000, there were no takers.
By 2009, selectmen asked voters to sell the property to Gilford Village Knolls; however, the amount was reduced to $110,000 at the deliberative session of Town Meeting.
After losing access to all federal and state money in 2010, Village Knolls head Tony Feruello said he would continue to seek the funding, which has apparently come, at least in part, from the Laconia Area Community Land Trust.
According to the Zoning Board application filed earlier this month with the Planning Board, the project has been approved the the Gilford Conservation Committee and a dredge-and-fill application has been filed with the state.
The site will be regraded to lower the high side and raise the low side, which will create 28-space parking lot. A porous pavement walkway is proposed along the edge of the building and other paved walkways will allow access to Village Knolls II and to Potter Hill Road.
Water will be provided by the Gilford Water District and electricity, telephone and cable services will come underground from Potter Hill Road. The building will get fire sprinklers and the water for this will come from a buried concrete cistern uphill from the building.
The site, according to the application, has been approved by the Historic District and Heritage Commission and is being undertaken by the Laconia Area Community Land Trust using at least some federal funding. No construction start date is known at this time.
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