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Cell phone company to find new site for tower

GILFORD — Responding to concerns expressed by homeowners on David Lewis Road, New Cingular Wireless PCS, doing business as AT&T, last night proposed an alternative site for a cellular telephone antenna the firm originally planned to erect on the southeast corner of a 148-acre tract, where it would have overlooked the residential neighborhood.
Following a brief hearing this week both the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment agreed to defer consideration of the proposal until March 17 when the firm will return with a revised plan for the project.
Originally AT&T applied to erect a 100-foot monopole tower with 12 antennas on a site including an equipment shelter, 12-feet by 20-feet, and emergency generator within a 50-square compound surrounded by chain link fence six-feet high and topped with barbed wire on land owned by Traditional Catholics of New Hampshire. A driveway leading from the southwest corner of David Lewis Road would provide access to the tower. The tower would stand 100 feet from the property line of two adjoining lots, one a house lot at 38 David Lewis Road owned by Kevin Lacasse and the other a vacant 5.27-acre parcel reached from Stark Street owned by Roger Baron, both of whom openly opposed the proposal. Although the tower would not be as close to the homes at 48 and 50 David Lewis Road, the slope of the land would make it very visible from much of both properties.
After considering three other locations, Will Dodge, representing AT&T, told the boards that the most suitable alternative would be to erect the tower on a in a thickly wooded section of the Traditional Catholics of New Hampshire property about 500 feet off Stark Street and 500 feet east of an easement strung with transmission lines held by Public Service of New Hampshire that runs northeast across the tract between Stark Street and Lakeshore Road (Route 3). He said that the tower would be 550 feet from the nearest residence to the east and 750 feet from the nearest residence to the west, which is on the opposite side of the street.
However, Dodge explained that since the elevation at the alternative site in 702 feet, compared to 755 feet at the original location, the height of the tower would have to be raised from 100 feet to 150 feet. He said the tree canopy around the proposed site is between 60 feet and 80 feet. Although an initial survey indicates that the tower would be visible from much of the length of Stark Street, Dodge said that most of the homes face south rather than at the site of the tower.
Unlike the original location, which was in the commercial zone, the alternative site is in the single family residential zone, where cellular towers are not a permitted use. Consequently, in addition to a special exception, which is required of all cellular towers regardless of their location, AT&T will also require a variance.
Both Lacasse and Julie Baron welcomed the decision to seek a different location for the tower. However, residents of Stark Street, who did not express concerns about the original proposal, have yet to be heard from. Dodge said that next month a balloon test will be conducted at the site that will indicate how visible the tower would be from different surrounding locations.

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 January 2014 01:51

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Laconia Improv hosting debut performance on Friday

LACONIA — Okay, we need a time, place and a group of people. How about Friday night for the time, the Beane Center can be the place, and for the group of people, Laconia Improv and an audience ready for unpredictable comedy.

Laconia Improv was founded in the fall of 2013 by Josh Rowson, a recent graduate of Laconia High School. For the past few months, Rowson and three others — fellow alumnus Zina LaBrie and current LHS students Taylor Gagne and Mariah Hawkins — have been practicing the art of improvisational comedy. The troupe is holding its first performance on Friday night at the Beane Conference Center on Blueberry Lane in Laconia. A second performance is scheduled for Jan. 31. Both shows start at 7 p.m. and will have an admission fee of $6.

Rowson said he first became exposed to the concept of improvisational comedy through his 14 years of participation in dramatic productions. When on stage, if he or another actor forgot a line, those in the performance would make up something to say in order to stay in character and to keep the plot progressing. Improv comedy takes it a step further, putting actors into a situation but without a script at all, forcing them to improvise lines in reaction to other actors and suggestions from the audience. The format was used for the ABC television show "Whose Line is it Anyway?" which aired from 1998 to 2007.

Rowson decided to start Laconia Improv because he's currently a substitute teacher and a student at Lakes Region Community College — his ultimate goal is to earn an English degree and become a teacher — and he suddenly found himself without an outlet for his dramatic passions. The idea to start an improv troupe was suggested by his former daycare provider, Julie Rothemund. "She gave me the idea to start something like this thinking that I know what I am doing. And to be honest, in improv you have no idea what you are doing, well, I don't anyway," he joked. "It's all made up on the spot, really. You are bouncing off the other person's words and actions."

Those who come to his group's first performance should expect the possibility of a few curse words, said Rowson. He added that the audience will be invited to provide suggestions for various skits, though he noted that participation is strictly voluntary.

If response to the two scheduled performances is positive, Rowson said he will plan additional shows.

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 January 2014 01:42

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Bristol police warn of calls said to be coming from Rite Aid

BRISTOL — Police are warning residents that someone is calling people seeking personal information and is purporting to be calling from the Bristol Rite Aid pharmacy.

Police recommend that if anyone gets a call from Rite Aid they should contact the Bristol Police immediately and not provide any personal information.

They also ask that if someone gets a phone call and they have caller I.D. they should make a note of the number and report it to police.

Lt. Kris Bean said the Bristol Police is working with Rite Aid with regard to these incidents.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 03:04

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Senate Finance Committee Chair Forrester says 'no' to hike in state gas tax

CONCORD — Speaking on "The Exchange," broadcast by New Hampshire Public Radio, yesterday, Senator Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith), who chairs the N.H. Senate Finance Committee, expressed her opposition to increasing the gas tax, suggesting instead that the Legislature consider "a combination of a lot of different things."

Last year, legislation to raise the gas tax from 18 cents to 30 cents a gallon in three annual increments of four cents carried the House of Representatives but foundered in the Senate. This year Senator Jim Rausch (R-Derry), who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee, has introduced a bill to index annual increases in the gas tax to the rate of inflation, beginning with a four-cent increase on July 1, with all the projected revenue of $31.9 -million appropriated to the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Forrester acknowledged the challenge of funding the maintenance and improvement of roads and bridges and said that she appreciated Rausch's effort to address it. However, she added that "the fact is that the money that would be raised by the four cents he is recommending will not cover the operational shortfall." She said that without an increase in its budget, the DOT will face a $48-million deficit by July 1, 2015. A four-cent increase in the gas tax, Forrester called "a finger in the dyke."

Forrester noted that $250-million is required to complete the widening of I-93 between Salem and Manchester while $12-million to $15-million is needed for paving and another $15-million for bridge repairs. She said that with another $50-million the state could maximize federal matching funds for highway projects. "This is a big number," Forrester said. "Four cents is not going to fix that problem."

Between 2006 and 2013, Forrester said that the DOT has spent $100 million on roads and bridges every year, but the agency's operating budget has risen 22.4-percent. She said that her concern about raising the gas tax is that "it's not going to go to fix roads."

When a caller asked host Laura Knoy to press Forrester to explain how she would tackle the problem, she began by calling for "a serious look" at the $81 million in highway funds that are appropriated for other purposes, particularly to the Department of Safety. She also favored "fix it first," a concept touted by the National Conference of State Legislatures, which lends priority to repairing, rebuilding and maintaining existing roads before undertaking new projects. But, in reply to a question about completing the widening of I-93, she answered "we should finish that."

Forrester also suggested "private-public partnerships," in particular arrangements with public utilities to bury transmission lines in the state-owned right-of-way. Senator Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro) has sponsored a bill directing the DOT to designate corridors where transmission lines could be buried and negotiate lease with developers of energy infrastructure. Representative Candace Bouchard (D-Concord), who chairs the House Transportation Committee, discounted the suggestion, claiming that the leases would not generate significant revenue.

Last year the Senate leadership proposed introducing casino gambling and earmarking a share of the revenue for roads and bridges. The proposal failed in the House, but this year the a handful of bills to authorize expanded gambling are again before the Legislature. Asked if the Senate would again offer gambling revenue as a means of funding infrastructure improvements, Forrester replied flatly "not me."

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 03:02

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