Meredith selectmen revive vendor fees for Bike Week

MEREDITH — Vendor licensing fees during Motorcycle Week will likely become a warrant article for voters to consider next March. Yesterday, selectmen scheduled a public hearing on the proposal during their regularly scheduled board meeting on Dec. 21.
Following the precedent set by Laconia, the ordinance would require all transient vendors, other than nonprofit organizations soliciting donations toward a charitable purpose, to be licensed by the town at a fee of $450 generally and $500 for food services, which would entitle them to operate from noon on the first Friday until midnight on the last Sunday of the rally. Vendors operating without a license could be fined up to $500 for each day of unlawful operation.
In August, selectmen tabled the proposal when they encountered stiff opposition from Laconia Harley-Davidson and Hart's Turkey Farm Restaurant, the two major hosts of vendors during the rally. Anne Deli, president of Laconia Harley-Davidson, warned "We will lose vendors" at that time, and asked "Does Meredith really want to put one more nail in the coffin of Motorcycle Week?"
Town Manager Phil Warren told selectmen yesterday that because Meredith cannot escape the impact of the rally, not to belong to the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association would be "a lost opportunity" to influence the event and suggested that the annual dues of $5,000, along with other expenses incurred during the rally, could be offset by vendor fees.
Meanwhile, Deli, apparently anticipating the discussion, sent a statement reiterating her opposition to vendor fees to the selectmen, which found its way to Charlie St. Clair, executive director of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association. Deli described the rally as "in a very fragile state," which would be further weakened by "a new vendor tax." She claimed that Meredith "is no more crowded during the rally than on an average day in the summer season" and suggested the town "right-size its efforts and bring expenses in line with reality."
Invited to speak to the board, St. Clair said a fee of $50 per day would not dissuade vendors from operating in Meredith. He stressed that vendors "are more unhappy about their rents than about their vendor fees." He noted that the two other major rallies — in Daytona, Florida, and Sturgis, South Dakota — not only charge vendor fees but also sales taxes, which in Sturgis are increased during the event." He said for the vendors "it is a cost of doing business and it's not even on their radar."
St. Clair said Laconia removed the costs of providing police patrols and emergency services from the operating budget and established Motorcycle Week as an enterprise fund, financed primarily by vendor fees. "The property taxpayers are not paying for Motorcycle Week," he said.
In August, Warren told the board that this year the town incurred expenses of $18,017 during the event, which consisted of $7,149 for police overtime, $5,868 for fire service and $5,000 in dues for the town's membership in the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association. Revenues amounted to $660, which represented special use permits issued to Laconia Harley-Davidson and Hart's Turkey Farm Restaurant at $330 apiece.
Selectman Ray Moritz questioned why the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association increased its membership dues from $2,000 to $5,000. St. Clair said the rally lost several of its presenting sponsors, including the Harley-Davidson dealership in Meredith. He said that when Linda and Herb Johnson owned the business it became a presenting sponsor of the rally, contributing $20,000 a year for at least five years, but "when Deli bought it in 2008 we lost $20,000 just like that."
Warren acknowledged that the association "is struggling," in part from an increasing preference for all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles over motorcycles. But, he emphasized that Motorcycle Week is "an economic development gain" for the town" and because "it doesn't just happen" he said he is "fully confident asking for membership dues of $5,000."

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Hotel slated at Akwa Marina

LACONIA — The Mailloux family, the owners and operators of Akwa Marina at The Weirs, plan to add a hotel to the shorefront complex, which would be built on a footprint originally approved for a building housing retail outlets, food services and storage space.
The hotel would adjoin the cabanas along the beach and overlook the swimming pool and restaurant. The 11,700-square-foot building would contain eight units — three with one bedroom, four with two bedrooms and one with three bedrooms — all with a living area and galley kitchenette. Several of the units would have an upper story.
The basement of the hotel would house restrooms with showers, a hot tub and companion lounge, exercise rooms and space designated as a theater.
The development of Akwa Marina began more than a decade ago as one of the three major components of what was called Akwa Soleil. The original plan of Richard Mailloux of Bedford incuded a gated residential community of 129 lots atop Brickyard Mountain; a 73-slip marina, beach club, restaurant and shops; and as many as 470 more residential units, divided between single-family and multi-family homes, 60 acres of commercial development and an 18-hole golf course.
In 2008, Southworth Development, LLC of Newton, Massachusetts, acquired a stake in the project. The residential development atop Brickyard Mountain was christened "Meredith Bay" and Southworth Development has since constructed and sold townhouses and condominiums along Scenic Road at the foot of the hill while Mailloux retained ownership and pursued development of Akwa Marina.LACONIA — The Mailloux family, the owners and operators of Akwa Marina at The Weirs, plan to add a hotel to the shorefront complex, which would be built on a footprint originally approved for a building housing retail outlets, food services and storage space.

The hotel would adjoin the cabanas along the beach and overlook the swimming pool and restaurant. The 11,700 square foot building would contain eight units — three with one bedroom, four with town bedrooms and one with three bedrooms — all with a living area and galley kitchenette. Several of the units would have an upper story.

The basement of the hotel would house restrooms with showers, a hot tub and companion lounge, exercise rooms and space designated as a theater.

The development of Akwa Marina began more than a decade ago as one of the three major components of what was called Akwa Soleil. The original plan of Richard Mailloux of Bedford incuded a gated residential community of 129 lots atop Brickyard Mountain; a 73-slip marina, beach club, restaurant and shops; and as many as 470 more residential units, divided between single-family and multi-family homes, 60 acres of commercial development and an 18-hole golf course.

In 2008 Southworth Development, LLC of Newton, Mass., acquired a stake in the project. The residential development atop Brickyard Mountain was christened "Meredith Bay" and Southworth Development has since constructed and sold townhouses and condominiums along Scenic Road at the foot of the hill while Mailloux retained ownership and pursued development of Akwa Marina.

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Smokers Haven set to open new store this week in Laconia

LACONIA — Brett Scott, the owner of Smokers Haven, a chain of tobacco and vape shops, said last week he expects to open the Laconia outlet at Busy Corner this week.
Scott said he originally planned to open by Nov. 1, but encountered delays in obtaining licenses to engage in the retail sale of tobacco and to allow patrons to sample tobacco products from the New Hampshire Liquor Commission.

"That has taken a little longer than expected," he said.
Smokers Haven will operate in the Lefebrve Building at 245 Union Ave., joining the chain of sister stores in stores in Manchester, Nashua and Epsom, all owned and operated by Scott. All four stores carry an extensive and diverse inventory of materials and paraphernalia tobacco catering to the varied tastes of all those who smoke or vape.
The 3,129-square-foot building at the corner of Winter Street, with an unfinished upper story of 2,340 square feet, was constructed in 1935 and was last home to Rent-A-Center, which moved downtown four years ago. Earlier this year, Scott purchased the building for $130,000, which has since been thoroughly renovated and remodeled.
The inventory will range from the conventional to the exotic, to include tobacco, cigarettes, rolling papers, pipes, water pipes, vaporizers, electric cigarettes, incense and various other accessories. The store will also house a hookah lounge, or shisha bar, where patrons can enjoy as many as 100 flavors of mu'assel or shisha, a syrupy tobacco mix laced with molasses and flavored with fruits, herbs an even gummy bears.
Scott's family, doing business as East West Distributors, began distributing cigarettes around New Hampshire in 2001, was among the first to offer roll-your-own supplies, opened several retail stores and soon became the largest tobacco distributor in the state.
Scott, who graduated from Spaulding High School in Rochester in 2010, began his first business in 2004 at the age of 12. Cash Today bought and sold all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles and personal watercraft like Jet Skis. In 2010, he opened Smoke-N-Discount near the Epsom traffic circle, which was rebranded as the Smokers Haven Superstore in 2014. Two years later he started Excel Realty Investments, which buys and sells properties in both New Hampshire and Maine. He said that his aim is to open stores throughout New England.

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