Propoal to construct 2 new buildings at marina has Meredith Neck stirred up

MEREDITH — A proposal by the owners Shep Brown's Boat Basin to construct two buildings, one for washing and another for servicing boats, has aroused longstanding tensions between the marina and its neighbors over traffic congestion and noise.

The marina is located on 8.5 acres that reaches from Lake Winnipesaukee to Meredith Neck Road and straddles Lovejoy Sands Road. The marina effectively encircles about an acre of town property that serves as a launch, dock and parking lot. The marina was grandfathered in 1971 when the town adopted zoning and operates in the shoreline zoning district in the midst of a thickly settled residential neighborhood of waterfront and island properties.

The Planning Board has held two public hearings on the proposal, on Sept. 22 and Oct. 27, as well as walked the site on Oct. 1. Both hearings were continued. Bill Littlefield, the owner of Shep Brown's Boat Basin, could not be reached for comment.

A 32-by-72-foot building with three bays for washing boats and connected to the existing maintenance building would be built on the footprint of a concrete pad where boats are currently washed. The design is intended to assure best management practices by collecting, treating and storing the wash water in a holding tank, which would be pumped regularly. Mitchell Locker of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services has said the agency supports the project , which "environmentally ... is an improvement" that will "reduce nutrients and sediment from entering surface waters."

The second building, 32 feet by 82 feet, would have four bays for servicing and washing boats with racks to store boats overhead. It would be built on ground, where boats are currently stored, as an addition to an existing boat storage building. The existing floor drains would connect to oil and water separators. The additional storage would house the same number of boats that are store outside.

In addition to the two buildings, a stormwater treatment system would be installed on the site. Stormwater collected from roofs and pavement would be directed to a ground water recharge system beneath an area which is currently filled with gravel but would be paved and ringed by a bioretention swale. Lou Caron, the town's consulting engineer, reported that "stormwater runoff from the site to the lake will be reduced and the runoff that gets to the lake will be cleaner than today."

At both public hearings abutters and other neighbors voiced many concerns, most arising from the prospect of increased traffic and congestion in an area already under heavy pressure in the summer months. Residents claim that any expansion of activity at the marina will increase traffic on Lovejoy Sands Road, which bisects it. Those living on Tall Pines Way, which skirts the marina to the north, fear more traffic through their neighborhood from motorists to seeking to avoid Lovejoy Sands Road. The frequent shuttling of forklifts and trailers, residents claim, poses risks to public safety. Some insist that the noise, traffic and congestion will have an adverse impact on their property values, while others fear the design of buildings fail to meet the standards of the architectural design review ordinance.

In 2003, the marina withdrew a proposal to construct an additional building at the marina, and, in 2008, a proposal to convert an existing building to a recreational facility was also withdrawn, despite being approved by the Planning Board, in the teeth of opposition from abutters and neighbors.

Angela LaBrecque, the town planner, said the public hearing has been continued until Nov. 24. She said the Planning Board will consult with legal counsel to determine if the proposed changes to what is a "nonconfirming" entity in a residential district require a special exception from the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

MC Week vendor fees again a possibility in Meredith

MEREDITH — Vendors at Laconia Motorcycle Week may have to fork over some money to the town for the privilege of having a booth, despite their complaints about such fees this summer.

Town Manager Phil Warren said yesterday that selectmen are reconsidering a proposal to levy the fees to cover town costs, an idea which was tabled in August after meeting resistance from Laconia Harley-Davidson, Hart's Turkey Farm Restaurant, American Police Motorcycle Museum.

Warren said the proposal was revived during a brief discussion of the process for preparing the 2016 town budget when the selectmen met Monday evening. He said that the issue will most likely be discussed in the course of reviewing revenues from sources other than property taxes when the selectmen hold three workshops on the budget on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 and 2.

In August, selectmen considered a proposal to require all transient vendors, other than nonprofit organizations soliciting donations toward a charitable purpose, to be licensed by the town at a fee of $450, which would entitle them to operate from noon on the first Friday until midnight on the last Sunday of the rally. Vendors operating without a license would be liable to a fine of failure to obtain a license would carry a fine of up to $500 for each day of unlawful operation.

Warren told the board that the fees were intended to defray the costs to the town of providing police and emergency services during the rally. This year, he explained, the town incurred expenses of $18,017 during the event, which consisted of $7,149 for police overtime, $5,868 for fire service and $5,000 in dues for the town's membership in the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association. Revenues amounted to $660, which represented special use permits issued to Laconia Harley-Davidson and Hart's Turkey Farm Restaurant at $330 apiece.

Anne Deli, president of Laconia Harley-Davidson, warned that if the town levies a vendor fee "We will lose vendors."

"Does Meredith really want to put one more nail in the coffin of Motorcycle Week?" she asked.

If vendors fees sap income from the dealership, Deli said, the costs would have to be offset by reducing employment, charitable contributions or marketing expenses, all of which would adversely impact the rally itself.
Warren said that if selectmen choose to introduce the vendor fees, he would recommend presenting a warrant article to Town Meeting in March. He explained that there is some question about the authority of the selectmen to enact ordinances, which would be dispelled by a vote of Town Meeting.

Lawmakers unanimous is support of $8M community corrections plan

LACONIA — The Belknap County Convention unanimously approved an $8 million bond issue for building a "community corrections" center and renovation of parts of the current county jail when it met last evening at the Belknap County Courthouse.
The plan calls for spending $7,171,928 for a 18,000 square foot, 64-bed community corrections center adjacent to the existing county jail as well as $1,159,300 for renovating parts of the existing jail, which would have 60 beds.
The community corrections center will feature a rigorous regimen of substance abuse, mental health and educational programs and services, which Corrections Superintendent Keith Gray says the county currently lacks.
Project manager Anthony Mento of SMP Architecture of Concord has said that he expects ground will be broken for the project in June of 2016 and that it will be completed by September of 2017.
The unanimous vote came after the convention approved by a 12-3 vote a non-binding recommendation introduced by Rep. Brian Gallagher (R-Sanbornton) regarding the terms of the bond issue, which he said would save the county $1 million in interest costs.
His plan calls for using the county's fund balance to pay off the county's current $1.4 million in debt obligations over the next three years and having a 20-year bond issue with level payments of $530,000 per year over the life of the bond.
Prior to the vote on Gallagher's proposal, Convention Chairman Frank Tilton (R-Laconia), who opposed the proposal, said that the vote expressed the convention's preference but ultimate authority over the teems of the bond issue rests with the Belknap County Commissioners, the county treasurer and the county's bond counsel.
Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) said the commission supports a 25-year borrowing, with interest only payments in the first two years; the county fund balance would be used after that for a few years, until overall debt service payments drop to a level comparable to what they currently are.
Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) pointed out that Gallagher's proposal would mean that the county would be obligated to $60,000 more in debt service payments per year ($530,000) than the level suggested by commissioners ($470,000), which would mean that the county would have $1.2 million less over those 20 years for funding other programs.
Tilton said that he favors the 25-year bond because it spreads the costs over a longer period of time and to future generations of taxpayers while Commission Vice Chairman Herb Vadney (R-Meredith) favored Gallagher's plan as it saves taxpayers from having to pay additional interest costs.