Council Leery of Proposed Noise Ordinance

LACONIA — The City Council last night shrank from scheduling a public hearing on changes to the ordinances regulating noise and licensing loudspeakers proposed by the Committee on Government Operations and Ordinances and instead scheduled "an informal information session" on the proposal at its next regular meeting on Tuesday, October 13.
The noise ordinance, chapter 167 of the city code, stipulates that is unlawful for any person or corporation to make "any loud, unreasonable noise or any noise which would annoy disturb, injure or endanger the comfort, repose, health, peace, safety, convenience, welfare and prosperity of a reasonable person" within the city limits.
The committee suggested two major additions to the ordinance. The first, which would apply to apply to residential and commercial properties throughout the city would specify that a noise "plainly audible," in the judgment of the police, within 50 feet of the property line of the property where it originates, particularly between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. on Sunday through Thursday would represent a violation. The proposal closely echoes ordinances in Manchester, Nashua and Portsmouth. The second change would apply to persons "yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling or singing in the street, particularly between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., would also constitute a violation. This change would address unruly crowds spilling out of bars and clubs at closing time.
The committee also proposed extending the hours for the operation of outdoor sound equipment. Currently, outdoor loudspeakers cannot be operated later than 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The committee recommended extending the hours to 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., respectively, and allowing loudspeakers to operate until 11 p.m. on the weekday night before federal holidays.
The committee will also recommend stiffening the penalties of repeated violations of the noise ordinance, by fining violators $100 for the first offense. $250 for the second offense and $500 for all subsequent offenses. The ordinance currently provides for a fine of not more than $250 for all offenses.
Don Richards, a resident of The Weirs who has served on the Planning Board for the past 18 years, told the council that by expending the hours for outdoor loudspeakers the proposal took "a negative direction to the homeowners and condo owners and other residents. If you don't live in an area where noise is a problem," he explained, "it can seem like a light problem." He said that he preferred the ordinance as it stands with effective enforcement. The proposal, he said caters to businesses, "but completely throws residents and homeowners under the bus."
Richards's remarks moved Councilor Ava Doyle (Ward 1), who chaired the committee that drafted the ordinance, and Councilor Henry Lipman (Ward 3) to suggest postponing a public hearing and in favor of an information session.

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Mass. man charged with DUI after crashing vehicle onto small Weirs beach

LACONIA — A Massachusetts man has been charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol following a single-car accident early Sunday morning.
Police said that Matthew Loughlin, 31, of Abington, Mass., failed to negotiate a turn while driving on Harglen Lane shortly after 1 a.m. and his vehicle went over railroad tracks and down a steep embankment, coming to rest on a small beach on Paugus Bay.

Emergency personnel were called to the scene after a person who witnessed the accident called authorities and Loughlin, who was alone in the vehicle, was examined by the Laconia Fire Department. He suffered only minor scrapes and bruises.

He was placed under arrest by police on a DUI charge and was released on personal recognizance bail. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Laconia Circuit Court on Nov. 12.

Harglen Lane is located off Hilliard Road in The Weirs.

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Settlement reached in lead paint suit against city

LACONIA — A settlement has been reached in a civil suit filed against the city of Laconia by a family which maintains that their son who has been diagnosed with developmental and cognitive disorders caused by lead paint ingestion.
The $125,000 settlement was approved Monday by Judge James D. O'Neill III in Belknap County Superior Court following several years of litigation. Stephanie Randall and her minor son filed suit for negligence, negligent misrepresentation, and violating the Consumer Protection Act, claiming the city failed to disclose that the house which she and Jamison Randall bought on 192 Elm Street in 2003 was contaminated.
The suit was originally filed in 2012, nine years after the Randalls bought the home from the city. At the time of the sale, the city allegedly failed to provide the Randalls with the proper lead paint remediation documentation.
The city had purchased the home at 192 Elm Street in Lakeport in 1998. At that time it was a group home and the city bought it in order to provide extra storage and parking for the neighboring Goss Reading Room, a branch of the Laconia Public Library. The seller turned over to the city a 1996 Lead Paint Inspection Report which was conducted by Alpha Lead Consultants Inc. that indicated lead-based paint was present in the home.
Three years after the purchase of the home, in 2006 the Randalls, who already had two daughters, had a son. In 2008, the Randalls learned their son had a blood lead level of 21 mg/dl; 5 mg/dl is considered the highest acceptable level.
The Alpha report was turned over to the family's attorney as part of the initial discovery process after the suit was filed.
The city had tried in 2012 to get the case dismissed, arguing that the statute of limitations, from the time of the sale to the date the injury was first discovered, had expired.
The trial court originally agreed with the city in a summary judgment ruling. However in May of 2012 the U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit, overturned the ruling, concluding that the Randalls could not have known of the injury within three years of the sale, because the child wasn't born yet.
A footnote in the ruling said that it was not entirely clear why the city had not completed a disclosure form or divulged the Alpha report, ''although there is some suggestion that that the Alpha report might have been housed in a separate library file as opposed to a city file.''
Another footnote says that Randall said he thought there was no need for an inspection because his wife, on a tour of the property, had been told by a library employee that any lead-based paint issues would have been taken care of by the former owner, the group home, when it applied for licensing. The city had disputed that the employee made the remark but Circuit Court of Appeals judge ruled that it was not necessary for the court to resolve the factual dispute.
Atty. Christopher Seufert, who represented the Randall family, was award included legal fees in the amount of $31,250 and legal expenses of $17,214. The balance of $76,535 will be paid to a Belknap County Probate Court account for the damages suffered by the woman's minor child.

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