Man said to have threatened his mom with a gun

LACONIA — A Manchester Street man is being held on $10,000 cash-only bail for allegedly threatening his mother with a loaded handgun after his video appearance in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division yesterday.

Police affidavits said police went to Manchester Street Sunday at 11:47 a.m. to assist a woman who told authorities Adam Bentley, 28, of the same address, had assaulted her by strangling her and tossing her to the floor.

While she was on the phone with police, she said she looked up to the top of the stairs and saw he had a black handgun pointed at her. She hid in the kitchen until police arrived.

When police arrived, they saw Bentley moving away from the house. The responding officer said he was moving quickly and was talking on the phone. Affidavits said he dropped a 4-inch hunting knife when he saw the officer.

In court, Laconia Prosecutor Jim Sawyer said the victim told police her son may have been considering "suicide by cop." Sawyer was seeking $20,000 cash bail.

Police affidavits said they found a .380 handgun in Bentley's bedroom. The gun had two bullets in the magazine and one in the chamber.

Public Defender Justin Littlefield said there may be some element of self-defense involved, and his client denies the incident unfolded the way police said it did. He noted that Bentley dropped the knife immediately upon seeing a police officer, giving no credence to the "suicide by cop" statements.

Littlefield said $20,000 was punitive and Bentley has no criminal record.

Judge Jim Carroll ordered that he be held on cash bail but that if he gets a bed in a secure residential treatment facility, the cash bail can be reverted to personal recognizance.

12-foot-strip of land between commercial & residential zones at issue in Laconia

LACONIA — A proposal by Steve and Kara Olson, owners of Laconia Refrigeration on Walker Street, to ease congestion in the neighborhood just north of the High School by designating a loading zone for tractor trailers around the corner on Butler Street met with opposition from nearby property owners when it was presented to the Zoning Board of Adjustment earlier this month.

Laconia Refrigeration operates at 11 Walker Street, the the commercial district, while Butler Street marks the boundary between the commercial and residential single family districts. The zoning ordinance stipulates that "no loading space or bay in a nonresidential district shall be located within 50 feet of a residential district boundary or within 50 feet of the lot line of an abutting residential use within a residential district." Consequently, the Olsons required a variance to place a loading zone on Butler Street.

There is a 12-foot-wide strip of unpaved land on the the west side of Butler Street, which borders a side of the property at 11 Walker Street, then a row of shrubs screening the parking lot of Laconia Regrigeration. Steve Olson told the ZBA that the tractor trailers could unload on the dirt strip without the fork lift truck encroaching on the pavement, then proceed south on Butler Street and reach Union Avenue by way of Lyman Street.

Suzanne Perley of the ZBA asked who owned the unpaved strip and Olson volunteered that he thought it was city property. Matt Lahey, a resident of Cottonwood Avenue, claimed that strip was part of the 50-foot municipal right-of-way and owned by city. He asked the ZBA not to proceed further because the Olsons were seeking to use property they did not own.

Lahey emphasized that the overriding issue is that two businesses — Laconia Regrigeration and Lake City Auto Body — which both generate significant vehicle traffic, were operating on a small lot. The coming, going and parking of large trucks, cars and fork lift trucks created congestion and posed risks. He said the situation would not be improved by allowing tractor trailers to idle on city property in front of a residence. He urged the board to deny the variance.

Lahey was echoed was echoed by several residents, including a grandmother who feared for the safety of her grandchildren who ride their bicycles in the neighborhood. Etta Wheeler of 4 Butler Street said her home would directly across the street from the proposed loading zone. She expressed concern for the value of her property as well as for the safety of children, the impact of noise and the increased traffic on a residential street.

Steve Bogert, who chairs the ZBA, said before proceeding the board should determine the ownership of the unpaved strip of land on Butler Street. If the Olsons own the land, they could could apply for a variance, but if the land belongs to the city, it could not be used as a loading zone. At the same time, Olson was asked to explore alternatives means of loading and unloading large trucks, including using the firm's parking lot where he feared losing required parking spaces to provide sufficient turning space. He remarked fixing one problem could cause other problems.

Supreme Court justice will attend Belknap jail planning session

LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners will hold a meeting Monday morning in which they will seek input from all parts of the county's criminal justice system on the kinds of programs which will be needed at a proposed new community corrections facility.
Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) said that the meeting will get underway at 8 a.m. and may last as long as three hours.
Among those who have accepted invitations to take part in the meeting is New Hampshire Superior Court Chief Justice Tina Nadeau, who is expected to talk about changes in the state's criminal justice system which will see felony cases go directly to Superior Court, bypassing Circuit Courts, as well as other changes designed to bring cases to resolution more quickly.
DeVoy said that Kevin Warwick and Ross Cunningham of Alternative Solutions Associates, Inc. who have developed a plan for community corrections facility for the county, will take part in the discussions. They have been retained by the commissioners to work with the county in developing a schematic design for a  64-bed community facility.
Preliminary estimates place the cost, as well as renovations to the existing Belknap County Jail, at around $7 million. The facility would have 30 treatment beds, 20 for men and 10 for women, and 34 work release beds, 24 for men and 10 for women.
The new facility would be built next to the current jail and connected to it through a newly created control room. It would contain 22,327-square-feet and a suggested addition which would include a small 2,500-square-foot gym, 1,500-square-feet of administrative space — all of which would bring the total space to just over 27,000-square-feet.
DeVoy said that after the morning session the commission will take a lunch break and then hold a regular commission meeting in the afternoon at which they will open bids from two architectural firms for a schematic design for the proposed facility.
DeVoy has said that he hopes to bring a bond issue for around $7 million to the Belknap County Convention for approval before the year ends in order to build the new facility, which is modeled on a similar one built in Sullivan County (Claremont) in 2008.
DeVoy said that the yearly payment on a bond issue of that size would be around $550,000, which the county could handle without a tax increase as bonds which are currently costing $600,000 a year in principal and interest payments will be retired in the near future.
One of the key elements of the community corrections plan is the creation of programs to help ease the transition back into the community of released inmates and the involvement of all elements of the criminal justice system in that process says DeVoy.
He says that he is hoping to get all those involved in law enforcement and the county criminal justice system on the same page when it comes to the programs which will be created at the new facility.