Alton crash leads to DWI arrest

ALTON – A 21-year-old Wolfeboro man has been charged with felony-level driving while intoxicated charges for allegedly crossing the center line and striking a SUV on Rte. 28 Wednesday at 5:15 p.m.

Police said John-Luke Gauthier was driving a Volkswagen Passat and headed north when he completely crossed the center line and struck head-on a GMC Yukon being driven by Renee Choinard of Middleton who was driving south.

Gauthier's passenger, 37-year-old Kristy Arthur of Barnstead, was seriously injured and, after being taken to Huggins Hospital, was airlifted to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.

Choinard was transported to an area hospital and treated for minor injuries. As of Wednesday night Gauthier was in Huggins Hospital with what police are calling serious injuries.

Police said preliminary witness reports indicate Gauthier was driving erratically prior to the crash.

Alton Police, assisted by the Belknap Regional Accident Reconstruction Team continue to investigate the crash.

Sound of Motor City Magic to fill LHS Auditorium at free Putnam Fund concert

LACONIA — The Laconia Putnam Fund will bring a wall of music to the Laconia High School auditorium Friday night at 7 p.m. when it hosts a Motor City Magic concert.
Admission is free to the event, which is is presented with the support of the Norm and Dot Thibodeau family, with first come, first seated.
Motor City Magic is a 10 to 13-piece show group made up of singers, dancers, musicians and look-a-likes who have actually worked with the big star acts that include Diana Ross, Whitney Houston, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Gladys Knight, The O'Jays, Aretha Franklin, The Supremes, The Mary Jane Girls, Prince, Madonna, The Taste Of Honey and more.
Specializing in Motown, R&B, Soul and 70s dance music, Motor City Magic has been providing complete entertainment for over 25 years featuring the hit songs from a golden age of American music.
Some of their songs date from the 1950s like Lonely Tear Drops and Good Golly Miss Molly to 60s favorites like Heat Wave, Dancin' in the Streets, Rescue Me, Midnight Train to Georgia, Proud Mary and Tears of a Clown.
The group plays corporate events, special events, parties, award shows and holiday celebrations and can even customize performances for special wedding events/
Audiences are led down that nostalgic road and swept away by wonderful crooning voices of the highest caliber as Motor City Magic brings back the fond memories and the greatest music of our era.
"No one moves a crowd like Motor City Magic," says Wynell Austin of Bell South of the group's performance at a corporate celebration.

Motor City Magic will present a free Putnam Fund concert at Laconia High School Friday night at 7 p.m. (Courtesy photo)

Rooster's owners will appeal, say 'Pecker' is an in-house pet, not 'agriculture'

LACONIA — Cuddling their pet rooster in their arms, Jeffrey and Bridgette Leroux said yesterday that the family will appeal the decision of the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) to deny the variance that would enable "Pecker" to remain in their home on North Street in Lakeport.

In December, when a next door neighbor complained about the rooster crowing, the Planning Department told the Lerouxs that the zoning ordinance prohibited the keeping of poultry in a residential district and advised them that they would either have to give up the rooster or apply for a variance.

Planning Director Shanna Saunders explained that the zoning ordinance defines "agriculture" as "the production, keeping or maintenance for sale, lease or personal use, of plants and animals," including poultry, and forbids agriculture uses of property in residential districts like North Street.

The Lerouxs insist "Pecker" is simply a pet who lives in the house. The zoning ordinance defines as "an animal from which profit may not be generated from the sale, traditionally, of its fur, eggs, flesh, feathers, edible portion or services, with the exception of mating." Jeffrey Leroux confessed that he offered "Pecker" to a neighbor wishing to add to his flock of chickens, but the rooster, intimidated by the sheer size of the hens, begged off.

"He is nothing but a pet," he said, adding that there would be no issue if they were keeping a parrot.

To appeal the ZBA's decision, the Lerouxs must first request a rehearing and if the board denies their request or reaffirms its original decision, they can then appeal for relief to the Belknap County Superior Court.

ZBA chair questions strengthening historic demolition ordinance before inventory

LACONIA — When the Heritage Commission presented its recommendations for amending the demolition ordinance to protect historic properties to the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) on Monday night, Steve Bogert, chairman of the board, questioned the wisdom of applying the ordinance without an inventory of the properties that would be subject to it.

The Heritage Commission seeks to amend the demolition ordinance to apply to a greater number of properties and allow more time to explore alternatives to demolition. While the original ordinance applied to buildings 75 years old and older, the amendment would reduce the age of significant buildings to 50 years. At the same time, a provision of the original ordinance requiring that the property be visible from a public street would be stricken.

The ordinance would apply to "significant buildings," which it defines by four criteria. A significant building must be one with features and qualities meeting the national or state standards for "a historical, cultural or architectural landmark." Buildings constructed to an uncommon design with unusual materials that could only be reproduced at great expense would also qualify. The ordinance would also extend to buildings of such architectural value or historic interest that their demolition would be adverse to the public interest as well as to buildings whose preservation would preserve a place of historic character and value.

The ordinance would be triggered when a property owner applied to demolish a building, at which point the Heritage Commission would determine if it qualified as a "significant building".

Bogert asked if the commission had a list of "significant buildings" and, on learning it did not, expressed concern that property owners would not learn that their properties were subject to the ordinance before acquiring them. The ordinance authorizes the Heritage Commission, with the consent of the City Council, to delay razing a "significant building" for more than 180 days while alternatives to demolition are explored and pursued.

Bogert suggested that "significant buildings" should be identified, inventoried and designated, perhaps on the tax card, so that prospective buyers would know the properties are subject to the ordinance before acquiring one. He said the status of the property would be discovered in the course of due diligence.

Pam Clark, who chairs the Heritage Commission, told the board that $500 has been budgeted for a stipend for an intern who could begin surveying properties this summer. However, she cautioned that with such sparse resources the commission was not able to prepare the kind of inventory Bogert envisioned.

Planning Director Shanna Saunders said that the proposal is modeled on ordinances adopted by municipalities elsewhere in New Hampshire and New England.

Despite Bogert's reservations, the ZBA endorsed the commission's proposal, which will be forwarded to the City Council. Bogert expected the council to hold a public hearing and said "I would hope the that the real estate community will show up and contribute to the discussion."