LACONIA — A public hearing on proposed changes in the city's zoning ordinance governing signs which was held Tuesday night showed broad support from members of the Planning Board and the city's business community for the changes developed by the city's Zoning Task Force.
Most of the discussion at the hearing centered on electronic signs and where they could be placed, particularly with regard to the professional zone on a short stretch of Union Avenue from the area between Sunrise Towers and Normandin Square.
Suzanne Perley, a member of the Zoning Board of Adjustment who chairs the task force, said that signs became a priority of the task force after a complaint from a business owner in that area. One of the major changes in the proposal would allow electronic, changeable-copy signs, previously barred from the professional district, in all zoning districts except riverfront and residential.
Jeff Flanders, owner of Byse Insurance Agency on Union Avenue, said that he had spent three years working on improving his sign and supported a change which would allow electronic changeable copy signs in the professional district as they are permitted a short distance from his business in commercial districts on Court Street and on Union Avenue north of its intersection with Church Street.
Also welcoming the proposed changes were Randy Brough of the Laconia Public Library, who said that the library has long wanted to have a sign that would enable it to highlight events that were taking place at the library. He said that the library would like to install an electronic changeable copy sign comparable to the one at the Taylor Home.
The library is located in an area that is also zoned professional.
John Moriarty, a member of the library's board of trustees, who also owns a building in downtown Laconia and is president of the Laconia Main Street Initiative, said he supported the proposed changes although he questioned the one minute time limit before sign language changes, noting that it is only eight seconds in many sign ordinances in other communities.
Steve Weeks, a commercial property realtor, said that the stretch of Union Avenue zoned as professional is in reality a part of a commercial corridor and should have the same sign regulations as a commercial zone.
Perley said the task force focused on signs alone and did not look at possible zoning district changes. She said the proposal distinguishes between "electronic message centers," or EMCs, "animated signs" and electronic changeable copy signs. EMCs, as defined by the task force, are those signs "capable of displaying words, symbols, figures, pictures or images that can be electronically or mechanically changed by remote or automatic means. The task force recommends that all EMCs be fitted with a sensor that automatically dims the sign to match the ambient light at all times of day and night. EMCs display static messages and images, without either actual or apparent movement or variation in intensity, though the face of the sign could change every minute.
"Animated signs" are those with imagery or text in perpetual motion and varying intensity and include signs with scrolling text. Electronic changeable copy signs display text for not less than five minutes, but do not include time and temperature signs.
Brian Gilbert of Gilbert Block said that he would like to see a change which would allow him to have a scrolling message at his business which is located in an industrial zone on Province Road (Rte. 107), where they are currently prohibited.
Planning Director Shanna Saunders said that the ordinance changes will not apply to existing signs but only those proposed after the ordinance is adopted.
A second public hearing will be held next month on the ordinance, which will incorporate a suggested change and a correction in the use table. If it wins board approval it will then be forwarded to the City Council, which can choose to hold a public hearing of its own or adopt the hearings held by the Planning Board, before taking action.
Last Updated on Friday, 07 March 2014 12:22
GILFORD — Sophomore Cody Goodwin and the Golden Eagles beat Prospect Mountain 59-53 on Thursday night to advance to the quarter-final round of the NHIAA Division III Boys Basketball Tournament. Goodwin had a game high 24 points.
The Golden Eagles dressed only eight players, due to suspensions handed out after an altercation in the final game of the regular season. Goodwin, normally a role player off the bench, nailed down five three pointers and ended the game converting a pair of free throws with 29 seconds left to secure the victory.
Eleventh-seeded Prospect Mountain kept pace with sixth seeded Gilford throughout the evening. The largest deficit was only 11 points, at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Prospect Mountain came within two points with two minutes remaining but Gilford tightened up on the defensive end of the court and forced the Timberwolves to foul. The Golden Eagles were a perfect six for six from the free throw line in the final two minutes.
Juniors Kaleb Orton had 14 points and Nate Davis had nine for the Golden Eagles.
Gilford will head to the three seed Berlin on Saturday for the quarter-final matchup. In other NHIAA Division III play Thursday night night, seventh seeded Winnisquam fell to number 10 Farmington 58-57 and ninth-seeded Laconia lost at eighth-seeded Mascoma Valley (Enfield), 59-43.
Last Updated on Friday, 07 March 2014 08:25
LACONIA — Wilkins-Smith American Legion Post 1, located at 849 North Main St. in Laconia, will celebrate 95 years of service to the community and its veterans and its youth with a dinner and awards night on Saturday, March 8.
Post Adjutant Earlon Beale, one of only three commanders at the post to ever serve as state American Legion commander (2006-07), has held the adjutant's position for 18 years and says that he was inspired to become involved in American Legion leadership by the late two-time post commander Charlie Tracy, who was state commander in 1971-72. The other state commander from Laconia was Cy Malone, who served as state commander in 1966-67.
''Charlie asked me to drive him to Boston but it turned out that he didn't really need me to drive. He talked to me all the way down and back about how important it was for the Legion to continue its traditions and provide leadership in the community and support for veterans,'' recalls Beale, who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War and retired from the Army Reserves after 34 years in the military.
Beale moved to Laconia from Augusta, Maine in 1986 and worked as a telephone lineman for years, once winning an award for heroism from New England Telephone for helping rescue an elderly couple from a burning home on Lower Bay Road in Sanbornton.
He served as Post 1 commander in 1992-93 and took over the adjutant's position, long occupied by the late Raymond Lahaie, a few years later with the understanding that it would only be for a short period of time.
''Eighteen years later I'm still here,'' says Beale, who says that the post, which five years ago had 625 members, has now shrunk to 480 and that it has become increasingly difficult to recruit younger veterans who will be needed to keep the post the vital force in the community that it once was.
''There's a lot of history on these walls,'' says Beale, as he looked at photographs of past commanders, noting that many were prominent lawyers, like Thomas P. Cheney, the post's first commander, and that at least two, Gerard L. Morin and Don Tabor, were mayors of Laconia.
He said that the post was the first one formed in New Hampshire in the immediate aftermath of World War I and was chartered by Congress in March of 1919. It was originally named for Frank W. Wilkins, the first Laconia boy killed in World War I.
Although Wilkins was over the age to be drafted he left New England Telephone Company and joined the U.S. Army as a master signal electrician in Co. D 401st Telegraph Battalion. He died in France of injuries received when he crashed his motorcycle while trying to avoid hitting a little girl. Wilkins suffered a broken leg in the accident, in which the gas tank of the motorcycle ruptured and his wounds were contaminated by the gasoline soaked ground, leading to complications which claimed his life.
The name was changed in 1946 to include that of Lt. Cmdr. James Stuart Smith, U.S. Navy, who was the first service man from Laconia to be killed during WWII.
From 1930 to 1953 the post home was located at 329 Union Avenue. The post sold the prime piece of property to the First National Corp, which later became the home of Mr. Grocer. The property is currently the home of Auto Zone.
The current post home was built on North Main Street next to Opechee Park in 1953 and was purchased when Gerard L. Morin was commander. Morin, the owner of Lake City Beverage, was elected mayor in 1953 and was the Democratic nominee for the United States Senate in 1954, losing to Norris Cotton, and was later chairman of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission in the mid-1960s and a candidate for an Executive Council seat in 1976.
In celebration of its 95th anniversary the post will host a complete prime rib dinner to members and their guests. Also certificates of continuous membership will be awarded to those with 50-55-60 years of membership. The event gets underway with a social hour at 5 p.m. and dinner will follow at 6 p.m. Ticket information is available by calling the Post #1 canteen after 12 p.m. at 524-9728.
Wilkins-Smith Post #1 American Legion Adjutant Earlon Beale stands beneath the sign which was on the the post's first home, which was located near Laconia High School at 329 Union Avenue from 1930 until 1953, and photos of Frank W. Wilkins and Lt. Cmdr. James Stuart Smith, for whom the post is named. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun).
Last Updated on Friday, 07 March 2014 01:24
by Thomas P. Caldwell
BRISTOL — With the municipal tax rate having risen from $5.25 per $1,000 of net assessed valuation in 2000 to $6.88 per $1,000 in 2013 — despite the town's net assessed valuation having more than doubled during that same period — calls for harsh budget-cutting have been rising, prompting a fierce contest for selectman and budget committee positions this year.
The heated campaigns reached a new level of acrimony this week after the Newfound Area Taxpayers sent a mailing to Bristol residents that included campaign inserts for selectman candidates Paul Manganiello and Andy O'Hara Jr. but not for incumbent Shaun Lagueux and former selectman Rick Alpers. The mailing announced a moderated Meet the Candidates event scheduled this Saturday, March 8, at the Minot-Sleeper Library at which candidates for Newfound Area School District and Town of Bristol positions will appear.
Responding to the criticism, the taxpayers' group posted on its Facebook page: "As done in previous years mailings, the mailing went out with the Announcement/Agenda which includes list of candidates and inserts from those who approached prior to our mailing date for inclusion. All candidates will continue to have opportunity to place materials at the event for attendees to take."
That explanation has not gone over well with supporters of the other candidates, who continued to complain that they were not aware that they could include inserts with the announcement. Krystal Alpers wrote, "As a 'neutral' association, one would have thought there would have been a request to all candidates for inclusion in the mailing opposed to assuming citizens/candidates (k)new this group was hosting and sending this mailing. Perhaps the candidates that were unaware of this opportunity from this 'neutral' association should have a separate mailing with their information as their (sic) is ample time to get this additional information out to the community."
The Meet the Candidates event will begin at 11 a.m. at the library, with Archie Auger serving as moderator for the school district positions and Edward "Ned" Gordon serving as moderator for the municipal candidates.
In advance of the event, the selectman candidates responded to questions about why they are running and what they bring to the table.
Manganiello, who owns and operates Basic Ingredients Bakery and Gift Shop with his wife, Garlyn, has served on the Bristol Budget Committee since 2012. "My voting record the past two years has consistently maintained the platform that you, the voters, elected me to advocate on your behalf. ... While I have not completed my elected term as a member of the budget committee, I feel strongly that the select board is where I can best advocate for the voter. Last year's residents voted for a change in make-up of the Bristol Select Board. The newly elected board has made some progress in that direction; however, the enhanced status quo still exists. I hope to be the member that ensures that meaningful change can happen."
Citing fiscal discipline, accountability, and transparency as his goals, Manganiello noted that he purchased his home in Bristol in 1983 after having served in Vietnam with the US Marine Corps from 1967 to 1971. After moving here, he has resided in Bristol both full-time and seasonally until 1995 when he and his family moved permanently to the area. He retired from General Electric Company Aircraft Engine Division in 2004, completing a 31-year career supporting Allied Military programs.
O'Hara, a graduate of Newfound Memorial High School, has resided in Bristol for 38 years and for 15 years has owned and operated APT Plumbing & Heating. He said he is seeking the selectman's position "to help the town of Bristol and select board control the spending and stop raising taxes".
His top three goals are "to work hard with the board and all department heads to cut spending without cutting services and safety; continue with the town makeover and repair town buildings and sidewalks; and to help bring more jobs in town so people can work in town again."
O'Hara, who has served on the board of directors of the Pemi Fish and Game Club in Holderness, said he is "open-minded with smart decisions and no agendas".
In his insert to the Meet the Candidates announcement, O'Hara wrote, "Bristol's goal of being a hub to surrounding towns was recently called a 'leaky bucket' so let's fix that leak now and stop providing services to other towns that enjoy very low tax rates at our expense." He also wrote, "I support excellent police and fire department services but believe their budgets are more than most residents can afford and will work towards maintaining top-notch public services on an affordable budget with special emphasis on improved services for the less fortunate and elderly." He also noted that he will "work closely with Windwatch to save our community from industrial wind turbines on our ridge lines".
Lagueux, who served seven years on the Bristol Conservation Commission and five years on the Bristol Budget Committee before joining the Bristol Board of Selectmen one year ago, said he wants to continue to promote Bristol for economic development, stable and dependable town services, and fiscal responsibility for all Bristol taxpayers.
In speaking of economic development, Lagueux said, "Bristol is a great place to do business. How can we make it better? How can we encourage responsible growth?"
A second goal is to "fund current levels of services, including public safety. Cutting these departments will have dire effects on public safety. However, we must find savings where appropriate."
Lagueux also wants to "invest in continual infrastructure improvements where feasible; continue to build on the downtown improvements."
A consulting forester for 18 years, Lagueux said, "As budget committee chairman for several years, we were able to level-fund the budget or, at worst, hold it to CPI during a very hard economic climate while still providing essential town services."
Alpers, who previously served as town administrator for three years and then served nine years as a selectman, said he is returning after a year's absence because "local government is a passion of mine. I care deeply about my community and want to ensure that Bristol continues to be a great community to live, work, and play. I hope to keep things positive, conservative, and keep our community moving forward."
With a degree in public management and having worked for nearly six years for Primex, a governmental risk management company, Alpers continued, "In order to better stabilize our tax rate, we need to work hard on economic development. We need to form strong partnerships with state and county economic development officials to help attract new business and retain the great businesses we have. We also need to ensure that we are as business-friendly as possible in order for folks to move quickly through our permitting process.
"With the great renovation of our downtown, I believe it is essential the board of selectmen find ways to continue extending the new downtown sidewalks throughout our greater downtown community. The current sidewalks are tired and in desperate need of repair and replacement. We can achieve this with a 10-year replacement plan just [as] we do for our roads, as well as continue to apply for grant funding as we have done through the Safe Routes to School grants.
"We as a community need to start talking to our neighboring communities about what services we can share, from bulk purchasing of office supplies, salt and sand, and heating fuel, to actual departmental services like public safety. These conversations can be difficult, but in an effort to stabilize the tax rate, the time has come to seriously consider regionalizing services."
Last Updated on Friday, 07 March 2014 01:19
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