LACONIA — A change in the zoning for the old Surf Coaster USA lots could make the land easier to sell. The City Council this week asked the Planning Board to rezone the two parcels at the corner of White Oaks Road and NH Route 11B at The Weirs by making them part of the Commercial Resort district. The water park, which featured a variety of slides and a wave pool, opened in 1983 and closed in 2006, according to weirsbeach.com.
The two lots are in three different zoning districts. The largest lot, 6.7-acres at the corner of White Oaks Road and Endicott Street East (Route 11B) that houses the pools and slides, is in three districts — Commercial Resort, Residential Single Family and Residential Rural II. The second lot of 4.6-acres, where the parking lot is located, lies south of the first along White Oaks Road in the Residential Single Family and Residential Rural II districts.
Each zoning district not only has a specific mix of permissible uses but also a different set of dimensional requirements, including minimum lot sizes, frontage, setbacks and open space and maximum densities and building heights, which together would hamstring any plans to redevelop the properties.
City Manager Scott Myers explained that the zoning of the property has hindered efforts to sell or redevelop it. He said yesterday that several parties have recently shown interest in the property.
In 2007, Rick Hassler of Weirs Beach Management LLC, which purchased the property in 2001, was granted a variance by the Zoning Board of Adjustment that enabled him to treat the two lots as one, which would be governed by the stipulations of the Commercial Resort District. At the time, Hassler sought a partner to redevelop the property as a resort hotel.
Since then, the property has lain fallow and the variance has expired. This spring, when the Planning Board proposed changes to the boundaries of the Commercial Resort and Shorefront Residential zones, both lots were included in the redrawn Commercial Resort district. However, the City Council tabled the proposal.
If the Planning Board grants the council's request to include both lots in the Commercial Resort district, the issue would be referred back to the council for final approval.
NOTE: The City Council will reopen discussion about zoning regulations at The Weirs in January. Mayor Ed Engler said time will be allotted to the issue at four consecutive council meetings. He explained that attention will be primarily focused on the uses permitted and requirement applied along US Route 3/NH Route 11B corridor, which lies within the Commercial Resort district. He stressed that while the discussion is open to all, 25 significant property owners have been identified and will be invited to participate in the discussions.
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