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Belmont Fire Chief announces pick for new lieutenant

BELMONT — At the recommendation of Fire Chief Dave Parenti, selectmen promoted Firefighter/EMT Ryan Brown to lieutenant Monday night.

According to Parenti, the department advertised for the spot made available when Lt. Bob Laraway retired and Brown applied as did many others.

He said after testing, an oral board conducted with representatives from other departments and a chief's interview, Brown finished with the highest score.

"He has taken great initiative and has done what he needed to do," said Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin when making the recommendation to the board.

Parenti said yesterday that he will begin advertizing for a full-time firefighter to replace Brown and a full-time firefighter to fill an additional position authorized by the voters at annual town meeting. He said one position is a 24-hour rotation spot and the second position – that will be filled as of July 1 – is a full-time day position boosting the number of firefighter/EMTs during the day time from two the three.

In other Belmont news, selectmen voted to deed the property at 200 Daniel Webster Highway (China Garden) to the town for non-payment of taxes. Beaudin said she had tried to contact the owner but has not had any response. The business has not paid property taxes in three years.

Selectmen also noted that under a previous agreement, the Casino on Route 106 continues to pay the town $3,000 a week to catch up on its back taxes. Selectmen voted last year to allow the gambling venue to catch up by making the weekly payments and Beaudin said that with one exception, they have lived up to the agreement.

Selectmen also signed an eight-year contract with Casella for solid waste removal and recycling. Beaudin told selectmen that the contract amount for 2015 is $220,000 which includes the company picking up curbside recyclables.

"It's an extremely reasonable rate," Beaudin said.

The town reported that the rebuilding of the lower part of Ladd Hill Road is ready to begin this summer. The project goes to bid on April 10 and the sealed bids will be opened on April 24. The project is being done in two parts with the lower part being done this summer and the upper part being scheduled for 2016.

Last Updated on Friday, 21 March 2014 12:16

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Meredith’s Barnard Ridge among roads scheduled for resurfacing in 2015

MEREDITH — The New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT) has included Barnard Ridge Road in its draft reconstruction and resurfacing program for 2015, which the agency released earlier this month.

The program, which is "subject to change pending further evaluation and design," consists of one set of resurfacing and reconstruction projects to be undertaken with the $15.6 million in current funding, and a second set contingent on increasing the gas tax to provide an additional $25 million.

With the additional funding the one mile pavement on Barnard Ridge Road from Route 25 to Meredith Neck Road would be rehabilitated. For the past several years the Board of Selectmen has been pestering the DOT to improve Barnard Ridge Road and Meredith Neck Road, both unnumbered state roads. Town Manager Phil Warren this week told the selectmen that the roads are not far from becoming "hazardous."

With the current level of funding the DOT plans to resurface the 5.9 miles of Meredith Center Road between  Route 106 and Route 104 while with the extra funds the 9.5 miles of Route 104 between I-93 and Route would also be resurfaced.

Elsewhere in Belknap County, one mile of Route 107 between Route 129 and Route 140 in Gilmanton, one mile of Route 25B from Route 3 to Route 25 in Center Harbor and 1.6 miles of Clark Road and Colby Street from Route 3 to School Street in Tilton would all be rehabilitated if funding for the program is increased.

In Tilton, the 2.7 miles of School Street from Route 3 to the Sanbornton town line would be resurfaced with current funding and with additional funding the 2.3 miles of Route 3 between Franklin and Grant Street.

Last Updated on Friday, 21 March 2014 12:30

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Main Street Bridge project delayed

LACONIA — City Manager Scott Myers said yesterday that R.M. Piper Inc., the Plymouth firm that will reconstruct the Main Street Bridge, has delayed the start of the first phase of the project until "on or around" Monday, March 31, when traffic will be detoured.

Myers said that while activity at and around the site will increase during the week beginning Monday, March 24, the plan is to keep Beacon Street East open through the week of March 24. He said that the contractor has assured city officials that they will be given at least three days notice of any road closures.

Last Updated on Friday, 21 March 2014 12:41

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Application review process in Belmont eases trip to planning and zoning boards

BELMONT — An effort to make the planning process easier for those who come before the town's Planning Board seems to be working.

Responding to selectmen's concerns that many applicants do not understand what is expected of them, the town has created a Application Review Committee. The committee was set up under the guidance of Building Inspector Steve Paquin.

Like similar review committees in nearby communities, Belmont's ARC meets monthly, and anyone considering a project that has to go before the Planning Board or the Zoning Board of Adjustments has an opportunity to discuss their idea with department heads before the formal application.

Town Planner Candace Daigle said nobody from the Planning Board attends the ARC meetings, so a board's decisions aren't influenced by discussions with the committee. The meetings are open to the public and are typically held during the daytime when department heads are all available.

Daigle said the ARC gives applicants some background as to what information must be included in an application to the Planning Board as well as some very valuable feedback from department heads who must review applications for compliance issues.

She said there is no charge to come before the committee.

One of the projects that was discussed in a recent ARC meeting was Ramsey Al-Shawafi's plans to renovate  the former Belmont Village Store.

Initially Al-Shawafi ran into obstacles with the planning process and in February he came to selectmen to vent his frustration.

As well as removing an ell behind the store and then re-siding the outside of the building, Al-Shawafi also wanted to put three apartments in the upper two floors — one for himself, one for an employee, and one for what he hoped would be a long-term tenant.

He told selectmen that he was concerned because he was told he couldn't do what he wanted to do because of a parking shortage. He was also upset because he didn't want to spend $15,000 designing a site plan and a boundary-line survey just to be rejected by the Zoning Board of Adjustments.

"What (the town employees) don't understand," said Selectman Jon Pike, who as a businessman said he empathizes with Al-Shawafi, "is that he needs to spend $10,000 to $20,000 just to get a plan."

"If he does this survey can we make this happen?" Pike asked, noting that the town had just spent a great deal of money and effort making the village district look good and he didn't want the town to get in the way of a businessman who was trying to improve one of its properties.

Selectman Ruth Mooney said in her opinion the town should be working with people who are willing to improve their properties.

Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin told the board that Al-Shawafi was scheduled for a meeting with the ARC and that his concerns would be addressed.

Minutes from March 6 ARC meeting indicate that the project is subject to state building and fire codes with the biggest obstacle being three apartments as opposed to two because while two apartments are regulated by state residential code, three or more apartments are regulated under the commercial multi-family code that adds multiple requirements.

Parking for three rental units was a concern for the Police Department.

Minutes said Al-Shawafi was told that the department heads and the Planning Department would continue to work with him to help him bring his project to fruition. He asked if he could make two apartments upstairs and use the second and third floors for each apartment, and was told he could.

At Tuesday night's selectman's meeting, Selectman Ron Cormier said he attended a recent ARC meeting and liked what he saw.

Daigle said Al-Shawafi was moving forward on his project with the help of the town of Belmont. She said he is doing some internal improvements now for which he doesn't need any permits.

Last Updated on Friday, 21 March 2014 12:22

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