Weirs Beach 'sleep' vs. 'fun' debate again plays out before City Council

LACONIA — "We're not done with this (discussion) — not anywhere near," said Councilor Ava Doyle (Ward 1) during a lengthy public debate of changes to the ordinances restricting noise and licensing outdoor loudspeakers at the City Council meeting this week.

Although the proposed changes to the ordinances would apply throughout the city, the discussion pitted those speaking for entertainment venues against residents and innkeepers at the Weirs.

"I sell sleep," Fred Clausen of Proctor Cottages, said flatly, repeating a refrain heard for the past several years.

"It's a tourist area," countered John Ganong, owner of Nothin' Fancy restaurant. "They need their sleep, but they also need their fun."

The proposal, presented to the council by its Government Operations and Ordinances Committee, which Doyle chairs, proposed two changes to the noise ordinance when it met a month ago. The initiatives were put forward for a "first reading" vote on Sept. 28 but councilors instead decided to invite the public in for the informal discussion that was held on Monday night. Officially, the matter remains "on the table".

The first proposal, which would 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 second change would apply to persons "yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling or singing in the street, particularly between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., which would also constitute a violation.

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.
Finally, 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 of Timber Lane, a long time member of the Planning Board, conceded "it's a tough proposition". He said that he accepted the 50 foot rule for indoor music venues, but was troubled by extending the hours for outdoor loudspeakers. "The existing regulations are sufficient," he said, with a provision to request extended hours on a limited number of special occasions.
"I'm afraid of what will happen if you open this Pandora's Box," warned Ernie Bolduc, who reminded the council that bars can remain open until 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. He said that he owned property at Hampton Beach, where his tenants constantly complain about the noise coming from nearby bars — and their patrons. "I've had tenants ask for their money back," he said. "These people drink and when one bar closes go to the next," he continued. "They are loud and obnoxious." He said that quiet between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. "has been a magic number for years and it works."
That prompted Bob Wolf of Faro's Italian Grille to say that "if The Weirs turned into Hampton Beach, it would be a blessing." He said that business slows at Faro's when the music stops. "Midnight is best," he remarked, "and anything earlier than 11 p.m. is ridiculous." Then with a nod to Clausen, he added "we sell fun".
Cynthia Makris of the Naswa Resort said that the ordinance proposal represented "a bad message for tourism by telling visitors they can only have so much fun, then they have to be quiet." She questioned the 50 foot rule, explaining that sound travels over water. "It's getting very divisive," Makris cautioned, explaining that "we are all residents of the city, but The Weirs is being broken apart between residents and businesses."
"It's an impossible task," said Councilor Brenda Baer (Ward 4), who suggested rather than apply one ordinance to the entire city, regulations could be tailored to designated areas, where, for example, the hours for outdoor loudspeakers could be extended.

Gilford board wants to spend $50k studying going it alone on trash front

GILFORD — Selectmen will ask voters at next year's Town Meeting to authorize spending $50,000 for a conceptual study of establishing a solid waste transfer station at the current recycling facility on Kimball Road. Solid waste has long been hauled to Laconia for disposal.
The action came at last night's meeting of selectmen following a report from Selectman Richard Grenier of the Solid Waste Committee on the committee's recommendations.
The committee includes Kevin Leandro, Kevin Roy, William Knightly, retired Public Works Director Sheldon Morgan and Grenier and was created earlier this year to review the options available to the town for its trash and recycling needs.
Grenier said that single stream recycling was not working and the town is paying $148 per ton for single stream recycling compared to $90 a ton for household trash.
He said that the committee believes the town should explore the option of a full transfer station for household trash with an eye to reducing the amount which goes to a landfill.
Grenier said that the New Hampshire Resource and Recovery Association has already taken a look at the Kimball Road site and said that the town would be starting with a clean slate and lots of room as the property is undeveloped. One possible barrier would be the fact that the site is locate atop a former stump dump.
He also noted that the site would have to have a scale installed for trucks and would require some sort of structure to keep recyclables from being exposed to the weather, as well as a baling machine.
Town Public Works Director Peter Norse said that the committee had produced a very good report and that pubic education would be an important element of making the transfer station work to the benefit of town.

Gilford is a member of the Concord Regional Solid Waste Resource Recovery Cooperative. The town partners with the city of Laconia in the use and management of the Laconia Transfer Station, which serves as the collecting point for trash bound for the cooperative's incinerator.
Grenier noted that the town's contract with Laconia expires in 2018 and the contact with Concord expires in 2019.
The committee was created in the wake of selectmen trying to nearly double the so-called tipping fees to town residents in 2013, who pushed back. Their fear was the private haulers would use the rate increase as an excuse to increase their rates and trash disposal would ultimately cost residents and taxpayers alike more in the long run.
In October of 2014 Selectmen raised the cost of tipping fees to Gilford haulers from $30 to $45 per ton with no objections. The idea of a committee was discussed again and formed officially in January of 2015.
Solid waste or garbage collection costs can be broken down into three-parts: the cost of getting the garbage to the Laconia Transfer Station, the cost of getting the garbage from Laconia to the incinerator in Penacook, and the cost of burning it.
In Gilford, individual residents bear the full expense of getting the garbage to Laconia. The town doesn't have a transfer station or curbside pickup and residents either take their garbage to the Laconia station or pay a private trash hauler to take it.
The costs of transporting the garbage to Penacook and disposing of it was $66.80 per ton and is called a tipping fee. This fee is projected to increase to about $70 for the calendar year 2015.
The town of Gilford pays the upfront costs to Laconia and a portion of the revenue collected from the sale of coupons to residents who haul their own or by haulers who pay by the ton to dump their loads is returned to the town.
The town disposes of about 5,000 tons of trash per year. For accounting purposes, the town budgets $350,000 annually as an expense and creates a revenue offset for the money returned to Gilford by Laconia once the fees are paid.

Graham states case for oval office at Titeflex plant

LACONIA — "Are you getting paid while I talk," Lindsey Graham asked a room full of employees at the Titeflex Aerospace plant yesterday. When a woman in the middle of the room answered "yes," he replied "good, I've got three hours."

The visit to Titeflex was the first of three stops during the 42nd day the United States Senator from South Carolina has spent in New Hampshire since announcing his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Although Graham continues to run near the rear of the pack, his enthusiasm appears undiminished.

Graham recalled that he grew up sharing one room with his parents and sister behind the Sanitary Cafe, a restaurant, bar, liquor store and pool hall his family operated in Central, South Carolina, a town of less than 2,000 in the western reach of the state midway between Atlanta, Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina on the railroad. "I knew the world for what it is," he remarked. His parents passed away when he was 22, leaving his younger sister an orphan. With the survivor benefits, Graham, adopted his sister and enrolled at the University of South Carolina, the first member of his family to attend college. After earning his law degree, Graham served 33 years in the United States Air Force in the Judge Advocates Corps, retiring as a colonel in 2015. Graham served four terms in the United States House of Representatives, from 1994 until 2002 when he was elected to the first of three terms in the Senate.

Known for his hawkish approach to foreign policy, Graham began by taking aim at what he called "radical Islam," those he said who seek to "purify their faith, destroy Israel and then come after infidels like us." To counter the threat, he said America must put "boots on the ground" and form a coalition of the friendly Arab states and Turkey — "90 percent them and 10 percent us — to eliminate ISIS. He expressed his strong support for companies like Titeflex that produce military hardware. "I'm not looking for a fair fight," he said. "I want more stuff than they've got. I want to kick their ass."

At the same time, Graham called for tighter security and greater vigilance against the risk of terrorism in the United States. "I think we're fighting a war," he said. "If there is a terrorist on one end of the phone, I want to know who's on the other end." When domestic terrorists are apprehended, he remarked "the last thing they'll here is 'you have a right to remain silent."

Turning to domestic issues, Graham asked "how many of you were born between 1946 and 1964?" To those who raised their hands he offered congratulations: "you're baby boomers". Then he asked how many were born after 1964 and to those said flatly "good luck".

Apart from the national debt of $18 trillion debt, which he calls a result of "bipartisanship", Graham said that the echo of the baby boom will face the risk of shrinking Social Security and Medicare benefits. He said that retirement age should be increase to 69 and benefits for those, like himself, earning $175,000 or more should be eliminated. "I'm willing to work with the Democrats to do the really big stuff like the entitlement programs," he said.

Opposed to increasing the minimum wage, Graham said that he favored lowering taxes and easing regulation, which would spur the growth of the economy and increase the competition for labor, which in turn would raise wage and salary levels. "The American dream used to be owning your home," he remarked, "now for many young people it's getting out of your house."

Graham said that his campaign hinges on finishing well in the New Hampshire primary, which is followed on the electoral calendar by the primary in his home state of South Carolina. Strong finishes in each, he believes, would put him among the frontrunners. Meanwhile, he is polling in the single digits, but apparently enjoying every stop of every day on the campaign, perhaps knowing he will still have a home in the Senate.