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Man with house built in 1977 wants to leave Gilmanton Historic District

GILMANTON — A controversy has erupted between a property owner in the Historic District who wants to leave the jurisdiction and the Historic District Commission that not only wants them to stay but to abide by the rules.

One of those who wishes to leave is Craig Gardner of 533 Meetinghouse Road who has obtained the necessary 25 signatures to have his request voted on by the electorate on March 10, which is town election day.

Gardner's offense was erecting an enclosure surrounded by a six-foot white vinyl fence off the the side of his freestanding garage so his two dogs can go outside.

According to former commission member George Roberts, fences above four feet tall and not made in materials contained in the original house on Meeting House Road must be authorized by the Historic District before they can be built.

"He knew he needed an approval but he did it anyway," Roberts said in a phone conversation last week.

"When he finally came before the Historic District Commission, he was told that he had to take it down. "It's an industrial strength fence," Roberts said.

Roberts described it as a massive addition that is not in keeping with the time period of 1820 to 1830s or the later part of the Federal Period. He said a year has gone by since the fence went up and Gardner hasn't removed it, despite being requested to by the commission.

Roberts said that if anyone disagrees with the rules they are more that welcome to ask for a policy change. His real objection is when people who live in the Historic District and are told about its rules before they buy, do something without asking for approval, knowing they need it.

Gardner said he was told he was moving into the Historic District and was made somewhat aware of the restrictions.

He said he installed the fence himself and acknowledged that it is vinyl and is six-feet tall, covering about 50- to 60-feet over three sides.

He said his house was build in 1976, has a skylight and no wood windows — just like any other 1970's era modern-day ranch house. He said the Historic District's rules says that homes must use the same materials used when the house was build.

"I have vinyl windows," he said.

He noted his hose sits back about 1,000 yards from the road and his fence cannot be seen from the Smith Meeting House.

"(The Commission) has a problem with height and materials," he said.

Gardner's real reason he wants to leave is that he thinks the Historical District Commission applies its rules and regulations inconsistently and the people who serve on it drive their own rules for the length of their individual terms.

"When the district was recognized parcels were bigger and there were different rules," he said.

He said they allowed stockade fences then and they still do. "I guess I could have built a stockade fence." he said.

In his opinion, and after doing exhaustive research of the commission's minutes, he said the members have become more restrictive and more conservative.

Gardner said this is the first time he's lived east of the Mississippi and for the past 40 years lived in Tok, Alaska.

"I am not trying to change the district into what I used to know," he said. "I understand restrictions but there are still property rights and they've (the commissioners) have gone beyond their original mandate."

The Selectboard's representative to the Historic District Commission, Brett Currier, said yesterday he abstained from voting when the commission made it's decision to have Gardner take down the fence.

He said Commissioners Deb Chase and Allen Everett voted in favor of having Gardner remove the fence. He said he abstained because as a selectmen he's supposed to uphold existing rule but in this case he didn't agree with the rule.

Currier said he personally supports Gardner's fence because it's neat, it's clean, it serves a purpose and it's made from the same vinyl from which his windows are made.

"In this case I think the Historic District has gone overboard," he said.

He said he could almost see it both ways however he agrees with Gardner in his assertion that the rules of the Historic District are somewhat arbitrary and not uniform in their enforcement.

Currier and 25 other residents, many of them from Meetinghouse Road, signed Gardner's petition to leave the district.

At the most recent Planning Board meeting, the members voted against supporting Gardener's petitioned warrant article.

 

CUTLINE: Craig Gardner's fence off his garage has become a focal point for disharmony in the Gilmanton Historical District. He is petitioning the town's voters at annual town meeting to leave the district so the fence can stay. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 February 2015 01:31

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Meredith Bay ice was not thick enough to support pick-up

MEREDITH — A pickup truck went through the ice on upper Meredith Bay around 5:30 a.m. yesterday morning while seeking to set up a vending station at the New England Pond Hockey Classic.

The driver, John Ash, 44, of Laconia, was some 100 yards from shore, where the ice was just four inches thick. The moving water from the outlet of Lake Waukewan at Mill Falls kept the ice from forming to a greater thickness. About 10 yards away, authorities say, the ice was 10 inches thick.

When Ash heard the ice cracking, he lowered his window and threw the truck in reverse, but the front end plunged through the ice and settled on the bottom of the lake in approximately six feet of water. Ash squeezed through the window of the truck to escape without harm.

When conservations officers of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department arrived at 6 a.m. Gulbicki's Towing & Auto Repair had begun pulling the truck from the lake with chains and winches.

Sergeant Bradley Morse of the Fish and Game Department cautioned that ice dopes not form consistently or uniformly. In particular, he noted that ice can be dangerously thin in areas with a current such in inlets and near outlets. As a rule of thumb, he said that the United States Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory at Hanover recommends at least six inches of hard ice for foot and between eight and ten inches of hard ice for snow mobiles and all-terrain vehicle travel.

Last Updated on Saturday, 31 January 2015 02:34

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Fuel delivery trucks involved in 2 accidents in Belmont

BELMONT — Police responded to two motor vehicle accidents yesterday, both involving fuel delivery trucks.

The first collision occurred around 12:30 p.m. at Union Road near its junction with Horne Road. A woman driving northbound on Union Road was negotiating the corner when she lost control and crossed into the path of an Irving fuel truck. The driver of the truck sought to avoid a collision by pulling on to the shoulder, but the two vehicles collided.

The Belmont Fire Department transported the woman to Lakes Region General Hospital for observation. No fuel oil was spilled at the scene.

Less than 20 minutes later a pickup truck traveling eastbound on Leavitt Road toward Laconia Road (Rte. 106) could not stop at the intersection and struck a J.P. Nonnan fuel truck. According to police the pickup appeared to be totaled while the fuel truck was damaged and towed away. Neither driver was injured in the collision.

Last Updated on Saturday, 31 January 2015 02:18

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Newfound High responds to threat of violence

By Thomas P. Caldwell
BRISTOL — After two days of increased police presence at Newfound Regional High School, things will return to normal next week, according to Superintendent Stacy Buckley.
Although not deemed a credible threat, a written message about pending violence at the school led to a lockdown with restrictions on students' passage, including use of rest rooms, while authorities made sure there was no real risk.
Initial information said a written threat was discovered on Thursday, leading local police and the N.H. State Police Tactical Team and Explosives Unit to investigate. Police remained at the school Thursday night and Friday.
Buckley said the postponement of the one-act play competition, scheduled to take place Friday night, was due to the weather and not to any lingering fears about a threat of violence. The one-act plays will go on stage Saturday at 7 p.m.
The threat also will not affect the school district's deliberative session, taking place at the high school on Saturday at 10 a.m. A new teacher's contract, a pending tuition agreement with the Hill School District, and a petitioned article to implement full-day kindergarten are among the items on the warrant.
This was the second threat the school has received this academic year. The high school went into a lockdown in September after a student threatened to harm himself, although investigators found no weapons.
"We're hoping the students will talk to their peers and end these kinds of incidents," Buckley said.
Bristol Police Chief Michael Lewis did not immediately return telephone calls seeking information about Thursday's incident.

Last Updated on Saturday, 31 January 2015 02:15

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