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M'borough officials propose steep hikes in fines for violating construction protocols

MOULTONBOROUGH — At a workshop last week, the Board of Selectmen considered a proposal prepared by Code Enforcement Office Don Cahoon and Planning Director Bruce Woodruff that would stiffen the penalties on those who build without the requisite permits and approvals.

The proposal follows on the heels of the construction of an observation tower on Red Hill, which was approved after the fact by the Planning Board in a controversial decision that prompted the selectmen to initiate removal proceedings against two members of the Planning Board.

Earlier this year Bob and Cathy Williams, doing business as Bear's Nest Trail, LLC. built the 900-square foot lookout tower, with an average height of 27 feet, around 1,200 feet up the east flank of Red Hill without obtaining a building permit, variance from the Zoning board of Adjustment (ZBA) and conditional use permit from the Planning Board.

Cahoon told the selectmen that along with two decks, it was the third case of its kind this year, compared to four or five during his first 14 years on the job.
Cahoon and Woodruff proposed a schedule of escalating fines. The current penalty for building without a permit is a fine equal to twice the permit fee plus the fee. The draft would raise the fine to five times the permit fee plus the fee itself. In addition, the fine would double for each subsequent violation of the zoning ordinance.
For example, the 30-foot by 30-foot observation tower would be liable for a fine of $2,970, calculated as follows. At 11 cents per-square-foot for an unheated structure of that size, the building permit fee would by $99 and the fine $495 for a total of $594. The fine would double for each further violation. Thus, the failure to obtain a variance and a conditional use permit would each result in fines of $1,188. Altogether the three violations would incur a total fine of $2,970. Moreover, the application fee would be tripled for violators seeking approvals for project after they were constructed.
Town Administrator Carter Terenzini said that the selectmen asked Cahoon and Woodruff to draft a formal ordinance which would be presented to the Selectboard along with the ZBA and Planning Board. The selectmen will meet with the land use boards in workshop, perhaps as early as next month, to agree on a proposal that would be presented to a public hearing. Terenzini said that the Selectboard can adopt an ordinance by majority vote.
Meanwhile, despite the controversy aroused by the decision of the selectmen to hold a public hearing to determine of there is cause to remove there Josh Bartlett and Judy Ryerson from the Planning Board for "inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance in office," there is no indication that they intend to halt the proceedings. The public hearing is scheduled for Monday, September 9, beginning at 1 p.m.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 August 2013 03:00

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State tells Belmont that Gale School has historical significance

CANTERBURY — Apparently, the empty Gale School is historically significant — at least to the state of New Hampshire's Division of Historical Resources.

According to a letter sent to the town on August 16 and made public at last night's Shaker Regional School Board meeting, the former school that sits up behind the Belmont Middle School was determined to be eligible for the National Register in 1985.

The letter said the Gale School "was listed...as an important Colonial Revival style building in the town. May of these resources have irreplaceable architectural detail and historic import to the town."

The state said that Gale School is part of the Factory Village (Belmont Village) Historic District that also contains the bandstand the Corner Meeting House, and the library as well as the Belmont Mill.

The Gale School belongs to the Shaker Regional School District but was briefly inspected by the town's code enforcement officer in June as part of a town-wide project that evaluated all of the public-owned property.

In his report presented on July 15, Code Enforcement Officer Steve Paquin reported to selectmen that the Building Assessment Committee said it was decayed to the point that it was likely not economically viable to be rehabilitated. The committee report also said it would likely fall down if it were to be moved and because of its size would be nearly physically impossible to relocate it in one piece.

Paquin also told selectmen that while it had sentimental value to the people of Belmont, it had no historical or architectural value.

Last night the School Board accepted the letter from the state for what it was and said they would be willing to wait until an ad hoc group of people in Belmont — comprised of Conservation Commission Chair Ken Knowlton, former School Board Chair Pret Tuthill, and Diane Marden — make a presentation about how to possibly save the school.

When reached for comment in July, Knowlton said his group was working on a plan but wasn't ready to release any details.

While the state cannot compel an owner to preserve a building, it recommends and encourages the reuse of them. The N.H. Division of Historical Resources said they offer resources than can assist municipal and private developers for rehabilitation of historic properties.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 August 2013 02:40

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Inter-Lakes board may be asked to add lacrosse as high school sport

MEREDITH — Inter-Lakes High School students could have a chance play competitive lacrosse, perhaps as early as next spring, but the proposal to add yet another school sport has some school officials worried.
The suggestion which was discussed at last night's school board meeting prompted considerable discussion among administrators and board members, but no decision was made.
Inter-Lakes High School Athletic Director Jeff Cloos said that the potential for student participation in the sport appeared strong based on the turnout at a local lacrosse clinic held during the summer vacation. He said 32 boys and girls had participated in the clinic. He noted that most attending the clinic were younger children, but added that high school students were more likely to be working at summer jobs, and so would have been less able to work the camp sessions into their schedules.
Superintendent Mary Ellen Ormond had concerns about the lacrosse proposal. She said she was worried about the availability of fields to accommodate the games. In addition she said she was troubled that adding lacrosse could lower student participation in those sports which the school already offers.
"Because we have a small student population ... I think it would eat into" the number of students who now go out for other sports, she said.
Some worried that participation in track and softball might suffer.
Ormond remarked that if lacrosse were to be offered it might appropriate to organize a team made up players from Inter-Lakes and Moultonborough Academy. She also wondered if the home games could be played on Moultonborough fields.

The two schools currently jointly field football and ice hockey teams.
In noting the concerns, board member Mark Billings said, "If (lacrosse) is where kids are finding their passion we have to recognize that."
Board member Lisa Merrill thought the proposal had merit. "The parents are really and truly involved," she said, and she note that the objections that a new sport would undercut existing ones sounded like those raised several years ago by those who objected to adding football.
After the meeting adjourned Ormond said that she would speak with Cloos and others to determine whether it was feasibility to organize a lacrosse team as a club sport and if it appeared ample support existed she would make a formal proposal to the board.
In other business, district Special Education Director Chuck DiCecca told the board that the cost of sending certain special education students private schools is now projected to be $65,000 more than the $178,000 earmarked in the budget. DiCecca said six more students required out-of-district placement than was anticipated when the budget was drawn up. Three of those students, however, have since been able to come back to classes at Inter-Lakes High. He said the $65,000 will either need to be found elsewhere in the budget or taken from a special trust fund.
NOTES: Ormond said that the first-day enrollment in Inter-Lakes schools totaled 1,101, a slight increase of last year's enrollment of 1,095. She said that the enrollment in kindergarten and first grade are both up. At Sandwich Central School there are 12 youngsters in kindergarten and seven in first grade, she noted. . . . . . Inter-Lakes Senior Bob Euiler attended his first meeting at the board's student representative. He said that he wanted to share with the board what the students at Inter-Lakes High School, and especially the members of the Student Council, think about certain issues.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 August 2013 02:25

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Another possible drug overdose death being investigated, this one in Gilford

GILFORD — Police are investigating what could be the second drug-related death in town and fifth in the Lakes Region this year.

Police said Adam P. Andrews, 30, formerly of 9 Sergeant Place #66 died sometime late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.

"There is reason to believe this is a drug overdose and will be handled as such," said Det. Sgt. Christopher Jacques, yesterday.

He said Gilford Police and Fire Rescue personnel were called at 1:22 a.m. to the home for a report of man who was not conscious and not breathing. He said the caller noted that blood was coming from the victim's mouth and CPR was in progress.

Jacques said he couldn't comment on any other specifics regarding Andrews' death but said as a matter of policy all unexpected or unattended deaths are investigated.

He said detectives were called to the home that night by the responding officers.

Jacques said an autopsy has been completed by the N.H. Medical Examiner's Office, however the toxicology tests that will identify the cause of death could take six to eight weeks to complete.

So far this year, two people in Laconia have died from apparent drug overdoses — including one last month. Last week, Meredith Police charged a local man for selling heroin to a Moultonborough resident who died from a heroin overdose while he was in Meredith.

The most recent death of 20-year-old Lance Reason in Laconia triggered Police Chief Chris Adams to issue a bulletin about the recent spate of heroin use in Laconia. Police in surrounding communities echoed Adams by saying they have also seen an uptick in the use of what is fairly powerful heroin in the area.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 August 2013 02:11

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