Laconia teens charged with stealing from cars

LACONIA — Police arrested two teenagers Sunday night and charged them with prowling, theft from a motor vehicle and receiving stolen property.

The two, Philip Gonyea, 18, of Pine Street and a Trenton McDonald, 17, from Lafayette Street were caught in the act by a homeowner on Dartmouth Street who heard them going through parked cars.

Police said she called them immediately and kept an eye on the boys' whereabouts until officers arrived.

Although charged with theft and receiving stolen property from one car, local police have reason to think the two young men stole things from other parked cars in the area.

Police said people should lock their cars, even if their only going to be away from them a short time, and also notify police immediately if they see or hear any unusual activity in their neighborhoods.

If anyone has any information they about the recent Dartmouth Street thefts they are asked to call the Laconia Police at 524-5252.



HHS plan to cut Medicaid has local lawmakers worried about county home finances

LACONIA — The revenue picture for the Belknap County Nursing Home remains uncertain following a meeting of the county convention's nursing home subcommittee last Friday and the recently announced Department of Health and Human Services move to help reduce a $58 million hole in its current budget by a $7 million cut in nursing home payments.
''There's nothing we can do until we get further information,'' subcommittee chairman Rep. Don Flanders (R-Laconia) told other members of the committee Friday after hearing an explanation from Nursing Home Administrator Mathew Logue about the nursing home's projected revenues.
Logue said that 77 percent of the nursing home's revenue comes from Medicaid, which is switching to a managed care system in 2015, which is one part of changing the model for long-term care towards a community-based care system. The change could result in people leaving the nursing home for a private care facility and taking their funding with them to that new facility.
He said that nursing home currently has 14 private care patients, who are paying $275 a day, and that the rest of the 77 patents receive Medicaid, which reimburses at $155 a day along with pro share payments of $40 a day, which are only available to public nursing homes, and other Medicaid supplements, boosting the total revenue to $215 a day.
Logue said that the cost of daily care is $315 a day, which leaves the remainder to be paid by county taxpayers.
He said that he doesn't know yet whether the pro share payments will be funded in the next state budget and noted that nursing homes generally have higher costs for care as their patients are those for whom a nursing home is the last resort and are typically older, more frail and more sickly.
Because the 2015 county budget will be finalized in March, three months before the state budget for the next two fiscal years is finalized, a supplemental or revised budget may be needed later in the year, Logue explained.
Legislators were urged to put pressure on the DHHS in order to let the county know what it should plan for.
''This is a real serious issue,'' said Flanders, who added that Belknap County commissioners might want to reassess their stance on discontinuing the practice of spreading administrative costs to the county home, noting that everything possible should be done to maximize revenue through Medicaid reimbursements.
At Monday night's meeting of the Beknap County Convention, Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton), chairman of the Belknap County Commission, said that it was his understanding that the $7 million cut in payments to nursing homes would result in loss of $180,000 to $200,000 in revenue for the Belknap County Nursing Home.

Residents complain to city about crowded conditions on Walker St.

LACONIA — Residents of Walker Street have appealed to city officials to address the congestion and appearance near its junction with Union Avenue where three businesses — Laconia Refrigeration, Lake City Auto Body and the 405 Pub & Grill — operate on three small lots on opposite sides of the street.

"It's just become too crowded," said Matt Lahey of Cottonwood Avenue, who routinely travels the street to and from home and work. "It's a failure of the planning process."

"It's awfiul," echoed Jane McFadzen, who has lived on Walker Street since 1984. "You can't even get up your own street and it's a blatant eyesore."

The problems arose in the summer of 2010. At the time, the 0.36-acre lot at 11 Walker St., at the corner with Butler Street, housed Lake City Auto Body and a rented apartment while the Galley Restaurant operated on the abutting 0.18-acre lot at 405 Union Ave. The restaurant also owned the 0.32-acre lot across the street, which served as parking for its patrons.

In the summer, Laconia Refrigeration moved from its rented space a block south on Union Avenue to share the building at 11 Walker St., then owned by William Hawkins, with Lake City Auto Body. Lahey noticed the firm moving into the building and notified the Planning Department. Kris Snow of the Planning Department wrote to Hawkins, explaining, "It has come to our attention that Laconia Refrigeration is operating at the rear of 11 Walker Street" and reminded him that the additional use required approval by the department. In particular, since there was a auto body shop and apartment already in the building, the additional use would require eight parking spaces, bringing the total parking spaces on the lot to 22.

In December 2010, over the misgivings of several residents of the neighborhood, Planning Director Shanna Saunders approved the new use of the property after the required number of parking spaces was apparently reduced to 18. The approval prescribed that all loading and unloading occur during business hours and any outdoor storage and parking be screened from neighboring residences.

In 2011, Steve Olson, the principal of Laconia Refrigeration, doing business as Fat Boy Kole LLC, purchased the lot at 11 Walker St. A year later, when the Galley Restaurant closed, Fat Boy Kole LLC acquired the lot on Union Avenue housing the restaurant and the parking lot on Walker Street at auction.

In December 2013, Fat Boy Kole LLC applied to build a 1,680 square foot storage building at the rear of the parking lot on Walker Street, informing the Planning Department that "the 23 (parking) spaces on the lot are used for the restaurant across the street."

Soon residents began encountering congestion as delivery trucks blocked the travel lanes and forklift trucks ferried heavy equipment back and forth across the street. Intended for patrons of the restaurant, portions of the parking lot have been used for outdoor storage, leaving diners to park on the street, adding to the congestion. Parking areas were not screened and fenced as prescribed and trucks and trailers were parked on Butler Street.

Earlier this month the Planning Department found Fat Boy Kole LLC in violation of city ordinances for failing to provide screening, fencing and landscaping at 11 Walker St. and for using the parking lot across the street for outdoor storage without approval.

"The decision to grant any of the three businesses permits to operate without ample parking and/or storage was irresponsible," wrote one resident.

"It is like a small industrial park. It is becoming more and more embarrassing and a definite eyesore," added McFadzen.

City Manager Scott Myers said yesterday that he expects to meet with the property owner to address the issues cited by the Planning Department and raised by the residents.

Blizzard offers city $331,400 for Lakeport property

LACONIA — Erica Blizzard, the owner and operator of Lakeport Landing marina on Paugus Bay, has made a formal offer to purchase the property on Union Avenue, which the marina has leased from the city for the past 30 years.
City Manager Scott Myers told the City Council on Monday that attorney Rod Dyer, representing Blizzard, has presented an offer to purchase the 0.81-acre strip between Union Avenue and the railway line, just north of Elm Street, for $331,400, the assessed value of the property as calculated by the city.

Paul Blizzard, Ms. Blizzard's late father, leased the lot from the city in 1985 for 10 years with the option to renew the lease for two further periods of 10 years. The lease will expire on November 1, 2015. Two years after entering the lease, Blizzard constructed a 9,840-square-foot building on the lot, which represents about two-thirds of the assessed value of the property. Upon termination of the lease the building and other improvements to the property become the property of the city.
The city has been advised by legal council that it cannot negotiate exclusively with Blizzard to either sell or lease the property, but may either let the lease expire and take ownership of the improvements on the property or lease or sell the property to the private party bidding the highest price or offering the most favorable terms.
In November, Dyer suggested a third option. He explained that the city purchased the lot from the Boston & Maine Railroad in 1958 rather than acquired it by tax deed. In that case provision of the city code (183-8) provides that if the City Council declares the property surplus and "available for sale," the city manager may entertain written offers from any private party. Either the manager or the council may negotiate the terms of sale, which must be approved by two-thirds of the councilors. Dyer likened the process to that followed when selling lots in the Lake Business Park, which he described as an alternative to competitive bidding.
This week City Manager Scott Myers told the councilors that he will recommend they declare the property surplus when they meet on February 9 and schedule a public hearing on the issue for February 23, when they may either affirm or reverse their decision. Once the property is declared surplus, he said that any interested party may make an offer for it.
In the 1980s, when Blizzard sought to purchase the lot from the city, Irwin Marine successfully challenged the transaction when the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled that the city failed to inform all prospective bidders that the property was for sale.