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Planning Board member told changing vote got her in hot water

MOULTONBOROUGH — At the request of three of its members, the Planning Board will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, August 14, beginning at 7 p.m. to discuss "the recent events that have led to the requested resignation of two members."

Tom Howard, chairman of the board, granted the request for the special meeting made by Paul Punturieri, Josh Bartlett and Judy Ryerson. Last month, the selectmen instructed Town Administrator Carter Terenzini and Town Counsel Peter Minkow to offer Bartlett and Ryerson the opportunity to resign or face a public hearing to determine if there is sufficient cause to remove them from office for "inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance in office."

Both Bartlett and Ryerson have refused to resign. Last week, Terenzini said that he was arranging and scheduling a public hearing, the details and date of which will be announced early this week.

Meanwhile, an exchange of e-mails between Terenzini and Ryerson confirms that the proceedings against the two members arose from their conduct when, on July 10, the Planning Board approved construction of an observation tower on the east slope of Red Hill by Bob and Cathy Williams, doing business as Bear's Nest Trail, LLC.

The Williams family built the tower without obtaining the requisite permits and, after not seeking permission sought forgiveness, by asking the ZBA and Planning Board to approve the project after the fact. The ZBA granted a variance and referred the case to the Planning Board for a conditional use permit (CUP), which required meeting 11 criteria.

The minutes record that Peter Jensen, the acting chairman, "polled" the seven members of the board on the 11 criteria. Two of the 11 failed when the board split evenly — three-to-three — with Bartlett abstaining and Ryerson voting no. However, neither believed it was the best interest of the town to require the large structure be dismantled. Ryerson changed her "no" to "yes," breaking the stalemate in the "poll," and Bartlett offered a motion to grant the CUP, which carried five-to-two.

After Ryerson was offered the opportunity to resign, she e-mailed Terenzini seeking an explanation. In an e-mail, Terenzini replied by attaching the statute authorizing the selectmen to remove members of land use boards. Yes, I had found that statute," Ryerson answered. "What I want to know is the specific charges as they relate to my conduct."

In response Terenzini said that a letter giving notice of the public hearing was being drafted and added that "It will most likely include the cause of the hearing to be whether or not you were derelict in your duty and acted with malfeasance in the Bears Nest hearing when you found that the application did not meet two of the criteria and then, without substantial or credible explanation, changed your vote such that the entire board was able to vote in the affirmative on the CUP."

"I am surprised it is only that," Ryerson replied, then continued "I of course cannot be held to be derelict in my duties for voting, since that is my duty, or for changing my mind during deliberation, since that is integral to voting and change of mind is common." Furthermore, she noted that by changing her vote, she did not affect the outcome, since a majority of the board favored granting the CUP without her vote. Ryerson said that she explained her decision to the Planning Board.

In addition, Ryerson explained that because the tie vote could be taken to deny the CUP and the final vote to approve it, by changing her vote "I erased that contradiction without changing the final outcome." She said she had not offered this explanation to the Planning Board, but added "I would have been happy to explain that to anyone who would have chosen to ask. As it now stands," she continued, "I guess I will probably do it in a public forum, unless the Selectboard decides to save itself the public embarrassment of holding such a hearing."

Last Updated on Saturday, 10 August 2013 01:39

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Heroin in pill form among wide range of illegal drugs police recovered from Laconia couple's apartment

LACONIA — A local couple arrested in their Union Avenue home in a drug raid on April 4 were sentenced separately in July to serve a minimum of two years each in the N.H. State Prison.

A naked child found in 261 Union Avenue apartment shared by Courtney Rogers, 25, and Nicholas Phelps, 26, was removed to safety by police immediately after they breached the door.

Rogers will also serve a 12 month sentence in the Belknap County House of Corrections once she is released from state prison for endangering the welfare of a child.

Rogers faces up to 47 years in prison should she commit any offenses within five years of the sentencing date and Phelps faces up to 49 years should he re-offend.

Both are ordered to complete drug education and assessments when they are released.

With the cases against Phelps and Rogers now closed, the police file on their case became a public record. It says police found .23 grams of brown heroin and .29 grams of methamphetamine in the apartment, as well as 39.40 grams of cocaine and 25.01 grams of crack cocaine.  They also found marijuana, methadone, paraphernalia, and scales.

Rarely if ever seen in New Hampshire, police also found 109 blue pills marked as M 30 that the N.H. State Lab tested for oxycodone but learned the pills contained heroin instead.

Affidavits submitted to support cash bail in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division indicated that many of the drugs seized at the apartment were within reach of the child when police entered.

Police reports said the raid was the result of three controlled drug purchases made during the two months leading up to Rogers' and Phelps' arrests.

Police also indicated in their reports that they waited outside of the apartment house for about five hours before making entry in the hopes that Rogers or Phelps would bring the child to preschool so she wouldn't be in the home during the daytime raid.

The door was breached with a battering ram and officers reported there was a floor-to-door security bar so they had to hit it a few times to get inside.

When the decision to enter was made, police had a representative from an agency that specializes in children waiting nearby. The detective who took the child from the house gave her to the representative and she was taken away for her safety.

Police also found about 200 unscratched lottery tickets most of which were $5 and $10 tickets. A detective reported he gave five random ticket numbers to an official with the N.H. State Lottery and learned the tickets weren't stolen. He said Phelps told him that he bought about 100 tickets daily with the proceeds from drug sales.

Phelps signed a form surrendering about $700 and the unscratched tickets to the Laconia Police Department.

Last Updated on Saturday, 10 August 2013 01:31

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Airplanes flying around LHS library at culimination of summer program

LACONIA — Students in a Laconia High School summer school program flew airplanes they had designed yesterday as part of the Electric Powered Cargo Plane Challenge.
The aircraft, powered by a small electric motor with a plastic propeller, were tethered to a power pole which supplied electrical power to the airplanes, which were controlled in the library by the students through a remote controller as they attempted to take off and land.
''It's a hands-on activity but the students have to use math in building the planes and calculating how much cargo they can carry,'' said Amanda Stefanik, educational coordinator for LHS summer school, which is a Project EXTRA! funded activity designed to afford after school and summer school educational opportunities.
Students design and construct an electrically powered model aircraft which must complete at least one flight lap without cargo and then they add weights and see if the aircraft can complete a lap with the added cargo.
Students were provided with a ready made fuselage as well as motor and landing gear, but had to design and build the wings and tail structure of the aircraft.
''It was pretty complicated,'' said Ryan Garneau, who chose an elliptical wing design for his aircraft which seemed to have problems providing enough lift to consistently circle around the power pole.
Noah Ford had more success with his aircraft, which had a trapezoidal wing design and was able to carry as many as nine of the half-ounce weights on a full lap around the power pole.
Stefanik said the cargo plane challenge will become a part of the school's learning activities and that students will be able to take part in regional and national competitions.

Last Updated on Friday, 09 August 2013 02:30

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Opechee Point beach closed to swimming on Saturday

LACONIA — The Opechee Point Beach will be closed to public swimming on Saturday, August 10 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. due to the Lakes Region Water Ski Boat Classic that will he held at that location. The Point beach is located directly behind Colby Field and the Middle School.

In making the announcement, the Parks and Recreation Department thanked residents for their anticipated cooperation.

Last Updated on Friday, 09 August 2013 02:13

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