GILFORD — Members of the Planning Board gathered yesterday at the Curtis Road site of the proposed "home business" of Arbo Ministries.
The board had decided at its last meeting to walk the property and see for themselves if 12 cars could be adequately parked there and whether or not they could safely exit on to adjacent Route 11-A (Cherry Valley Road) from a driveway that wraps around the back of the house. Accompanying the board yesterday afternoon were Arbo Ministries's engineer Jon Rokeh and Gilford Planning Director John Ayer.
Barbara and David Arbo had asked for a change of use for their property that would allow them to hold prayer retreats for small groups about 24 times a year. They told the Planning Board at its regular meeting last week that most of the meetings would be smaller and the largest ones — a maximum of 35 people traveling in no more than 12 cars — would likely be only quarterly events.
Arbo Ministries had initially asked the Zoning Board of Adjustment for a special exception to operate a church in what Gilford classifies as a "limited residential zone".
When neighbors pushed back, Arbo Ministries scaled back its proposal and went to the Planning Board for a change of use. Although the application is still before the ZBA, it has been tabled until October with the thought that a smaller-scale version can be accomplished at the planning level.
Arbo Ministries agreed that if the Planning Board grants a change of use, it would not run with the property, should they sell in in the future. Conversely, if the property was to get a special exception from the ZBA, the exception would run with the property.
At August 19 meeting, many neighbors thanked the Arbos for reducing the scope of the plan. One woman who has small children who use the school bus and fears visitors to Arbo Ministries will drive up Curtis Road to see the view, still opposed the plan.
After walking the site and learning that Arbo Ministries would be holding events primarily on Saturdays, most members were not troubled about the school bus stop. As to driving up Curtis Road to see the view, Arbo Ministries said they would tell visitors to enter the property through the Curtis Road entrance and exit on to Route 11-A.
Some members, however, are still bothered by the exit onto Route 11-A via an old driveway that has a valid state permit.
Member Jerry Gagnon said the sight lines for exiting on to Route 11-A are poor, especially for a car turning west and crossing the east-bound lane, and even though the Arbos have already trimmed back much of the overgrowth, he said he like to see more trees removed.
Members held no formal discussions and made no decisions. Discussion will on the proposed change of use will be September 8 at 7 p.m. at the next regularly scheduled Planning Board meeting.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 August 2014 11:54
LACONIA — Police Chief Christopher Adams said yesterday that his department is creating a trial position that will be designed to improve communications between the department and other agencies and organizations regarding illegal drug prevention.
The trial program called Prevention Enforcement Treatment (PET) is being made possible because of $50,000 added to the Police Department's current operating budget by the City Council, specifically to address the use of controlled substances, with an emphasis on heroin use.
"This is not an enforcement position," said Adams. "This is community outreach."
To begin the program, Adams said the department is taking one existing officer from patrol duty and giving him or her four months to get the outreach program up to speed.
Because of staffing, he said he'd like the program to begin in October, giving the department time to get through the rest of the summer with a full patrol staff.
Adams said he wants the officer chosen for the position to work with the city prosecutor and help represent the city at the Belknap County Recovery Court, to work with the Belknap County Department of Corrections and to help coordinate the Police Department with all of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) — like Horizons Counseling Center, Genesis Behavioral Health, and various other outreach programs that concentrate on drug prevention and treatment.
He said the PET coordinator will also work with the Lakes Region General Hospital and the School District.
"In those four month, we'll get a picture of what the program will look like and return to the City Council," he said.
Ideally, he said the internal candidate would be someone with good outreach and coordination skills who can create a working pilot program in four months. He said the PET Coordinator would not be in uniform but would be a sworn police officer.
He said if the program is something the City Council likes then they will $36,000 of the $50,000 extra money to hire an additional patrol officer for the second half of this fiscal year that ends in June of 2015. For 2016, Adams said he would like to keep the PET Coordinator and get an additional patrol officer to permanently replace the person who takes over at PET Coordinator.
Adams said that there are some training and equipment purchases that are specifically drug related the department will make with the $14,000 not set aside for personnel.
He said should the PET Coordinator position not work out or not be what the City Council had in mind, then the department would return the $36,000 to the city at the end of this fiscal year.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 August 2014 11:56
LACONIA — Members of the Belknap County Sheriff's Department arrested a Grant Street man Monday afternoon and seized 13 mature marijuana plants from a temporary greenhouse in the backyard.
Klifford Owens, 51, is charged with one felony count of manufacturing a controlled drug.
Owen's son, 22-year-old Dustin Owens, also of Grant Street, is charged with one count of felony criminal mischief and resisting arrest for repeatedly kicking one of the Sheriff's Department cruisers that was at his home.
Sheriff Craig Wiggin said yesterday that he doesn't really know why, but Dustin Owens starting kicking the passenger side of the cruiser, creating several large dents in the door and breaking off the mirror.
Wiggin said he estimates the damage to be at least $2,000. He said the damaged cruiser was one of the 2007 Ford Crown Victorias but said he needs to get another year of use out of it before it can be replaced.
Police also seized some growing equipment and some other paraphernalia from the home.
Klifford Owens was released on $25,000 personal recognizance bail and Dustin Owens was released on $5,000 cash bail.
The search warrant affidavits were sealed, however Wiggin said the investigation is ongoing.
CUTLINE: Belknap County Sheriffs allegedly seized 13 mature marijuana plants from this green house behind a home on Grant Street in Laconia on Monday afternoon. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 August 2014 01:41
LACONIA — The City Council this week ratified collective bargaining agreements with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Local 534, which represents some 15 non-managerial employees at the Department of Public Works, and the Local Professional Firefighters', Local 1153 of the International Association of Firefighters.
City Manager Scott Myers said that the compensation and benefits provided by the contracts mirror those the City Council awarded to city employees who are not members of a union. The agreements are for three years. Employees will receive cost of living adjustments of 2 percent, 2.25 percent and 2.5 percent in each year of the contract.
Employees will no longer have a choice between two health care plans. The so-called HMO High" plan, which has a $500 deductible and $10 office visit copay and requires a 15 percent premium contribution from employees, has been eliminated. The so-called "HMO Low" plan, with a $2,000 deductible and $20 copay, remains. While employees have contributed 6 percent to the premium of the "HMO Low" plan, under the new contracts they contribute 8 percent the first year, 9 percent the second year and 10 percent the third year. The wages of employees will be supplemented by an annual payment of $250 in each of the next three years and the city will contribute $1,000 to the Health Reimbursement Account of each to be applied against their deductibles. Any unused funds may be carried forward to subsequent years.
Myers said that the contracts include language to forestall liability for the so-called "Cadillac Tax," a 40-percent federal levy on the value of health insurance benefits exceeding specific thresholds — $10,200 for an individual and $27,500 for a family — imposed on January 1, 2018 by the Affordable Care Act. The city and the unions agreed that if new contracts are not agreed when the current contracts expire, steps must be taken to ensure that the cost of health insurance is below the thresholds. The contracts require the city and unions to either negotiate a health insurance plan or accept a plan reached through binding arbitration that makes the minimal changes to benefits required to keep the cost below the threshold.
Also on Monday, the council unanimously declined to ratify a collective bargaining agreement with Laconia Police Officers Association presented by the Police Commission, which conducts the negotiations with the union. Negotiations with the State Employees Association, Local 1984 of the Service Employees International Union have reached impasse. Myers said that the city and the union are awaiting the report of a neutral fact finder, who will consider the differences between the two and make recommendations for resolving them.
NOTE: The City Council appointed Gregory Page as moderator and Steve Bogert as ward clerk in Ward 5. Last month City Clerk Mary Reynold informed the council that resignations and retirements had left the ward without any officials to conduct the state primary election in September and general election in November. Page, who chairs the city's Water Commission, responded to her appeal and is engaged in the training offered by the New Hampshire Secretary of State and will undergo in-house training this week. Bogert, who has chaired the Zoning Board of Adjustment for seven years, volunteered to serve as Ward Clerk and is also completing the training. A number of others have offered to work at the polling station on election day and several veterans of the polls have offered to train the newcomers. "I feel with the additional efforts being made by everyone involved this will be a very successful election cycle for the City," Reynolds told the councilors in a memorandum.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 August 2014 11:32
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