Giant oak tree facing lumberjack’s axe

LACONIA — It appears the large oak tree between Dunkin' Donuts and Dairy Queen on Union Avenue may be at the end of its life.

The majestic tree poses a safety hazard, according to Cafua Management Inc., the firm that constructed the commercial building between those businesses.

The firm is seeking approval from the Planning Board to remove the tree on the northeast corner of the lot.
When the Planning Board approved the site plan for the project it stipulated that "the large oak tree near the northeast corner of the property is a monumental shade tree, and as such shall be protected and maintain(ed) during and after construction."
In September, Gregg Nolin of Cafua Management first inquired about taking down the tree,. At the time, Planning Director Shanna Saunders said that since preserving the tree was a condition of the Planning Board's approval of the project, a request to remove it would be referred to the board for its approval.
The tree is rooted in the sidewalk, within 6 feet of the curb cut, defining the entrance and exit to the property, which is close to the northeast corner of the lot. Nolin expressed concern that the trunk of the tree, which is 14 feet around, obscures the view of a motorist leaving the site of southbound lane of traffic on Union Avenue. At the same time, the tree is approximately 10 yards south of a second curb cut for vehicles leaving Dairy Queen next door.
In addition, Scott McPhie, conservation technician in the Planning Department, said that when the site plan was reviewed, concern was expressed about the condition of the tree. The roots of the tree, which have been paved over, grow amid sewer, drainage and gas lines. McPhie said excavation and backfilling may have damaged the root system enough to impair the health and shorten the life of the tree, which could only be determined by a professional arborist. Luke Powell, assistant director of Public Works, has said the health of the tree has been impaired and its life span shortened.

Originally Cafua Management sought to develop the entire lot by building the Dunkin' Donuts and an adjoining strip mall, but shelved its plan in the face of popular opposition to the demolition of the Hathaway House. Last year, when efforts to preserve the Hathaway House were exhausted, the company proceeded to raze it and construct the commercial building on the site.

  • Category: Local News
  • Hits: 349

Meredith taxes to go up 2.5 percent

MEREDITH — The New Hampshire Deparrtment of Revenue Administration has set the 2016 property tax rate at $15.20 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, an increase of 37 cents, or 2.5 percent, over the 2014 rate of $14.83.

For the owner of a $200,000 home, that translates to a property tax bill of $3,040, a $74 increase over last year's $2,966. For the owner of a $300,000 home, this year's tax bill would come to $4,560, $111 higher than last year's $4,449.

The amount to be raised by property taxes rose by $850,829, or 3.3 percent, from $25.646,770 to $26,497,599. The total assessed valuation increased by $12,548,420, or 0.7 percent, from $1,745,511,622 to $1,758,060,047.

The town tax increased from $4.77 to $4.81, the local school tax from $6 to $6.52 and the county tax from $1.41 to $1.45. The state education tax decreased from $2.65 to $2.42.

  • Category: Local News
  • Hits: 362

Big plans underway for Lakeside Avenue at The Weirs

LACONIA — City Manager Scott Myers told the City Council this week that plans are underway to reconstruct Lakeside Avenue, replace a water main, upgrade a sewer line, improve the drainage system and perhaps bury the utility lines at The Weirs in time for the running of Motorcycle Week in 2017.

Paul Moynihan, director of Public Works, included the project in his submission to the Capital Improvement Program Committee and Seth Nuttelman, superintendent of the Laconia Water Works placed the water main along Lakeside Avenue between U.S. Route 3 and Tower Street atop the list of capital improvements for 2016-2017.

Meters projected the cost of reconstructing Lakeside Avenue and improving the drainage at $1 million. The upgrade to the sewer, estimated to cost $90,000, would be born by ratepayers. The cost of replacing the water main, estimated at $500,000, would be funded through the enterprise fund of the Laconia Water Works.

Myers said that, depending on the scope of the project, work could begin following Labor Day and continue into November, then resume in the spring of 2017 and be finished by Memorial Day.

Myers said he has approached Eversource about the cost of burying the utility lines. He said that the city is authorized to borrow to finance the project and suggested drawing on the general fund to defray the debt service then applying revenue from the Weirs Tax Increment Financing District to replenish the general fund.

Myers noted that replacing about 360 feet of wooden decking at the north end of the boardwalk at The Weirs, another priority of the Department of Public Works, might be incorporated in the project. Moynihan described the condition of that stretch of the boardwalk as "fair" to "poor," noting that it was last rebuilt in 1987. He suggested composite or synthetic material might be used to replace the wooden deck and estimated the cost of the project at $495,000.

Myers also mentioned the last unpaved "cat alley" at The Weirs — Margin Avenue, which runs for approximately 100 yards between the railroad track and Centenary Avenue north of the bridge carrying Foster Avenue over the railway and intersects Centenary Avenue at both ends. Apart from its unpaved surface, Margin Avenue suffers for lack of drainage.

This year, 5.67 miles of city streets and roads were paved and improved, including to the surprise of the councilors 1,430 feet of Court Street. The council has expected Court Street, from the intersection with Main Street to the Belmont town be reclaimed and overlaid as well as the sewer and drainage improved, next year at a cost of $1.3 million. However, Myers said that with the ambitious plans for 2016 and 2017, the decision was made to pave the stretch of Court Street, which would "buy us another two or three years" before reconstructing the street in 2018.

  • Category: Local News
  • Hits: 457