Parties in year long agritourism battle in Gilford close to settlement

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Although she wants some time to think about it, it appears a Gilford woman who has challenged her neighbors' attempts to host weddings on the property next door has reached a settlement with them. After 90 minutes of diplomacy, lawyers for Monique Twomey, the town of Gilford and Andrew Martina Howe told a judge in Belknap County Superior Court Monday that they are close to an agreement.

Monique Twomey of Gunstock Hill Road challenged the Gilford Zoning Board's second decision in 2015 to refuse to uphold a cease-and-desist order issued against the Howe family by the Gilford Planning Department.

The effect of this refusal was to allow the Howes to continue to host weddings under the theory that agritourism is the same as agriculture; however, Twomey filed suit challenging the decision, which effectively prevented the Howes from hosting events in 2016 on that property.

Twomey said she sought the cease-and-desist order over concerns about noise and traffic. She said she was being denied the intended use of her home because during the times the Howes hosted events, she was unable to be outside with her two small children, and feared that a commercial operation next door to her home would diminish her property's value.

In the interim, the Gilford Planning Board granted the Howes' site plan approval after selectmen stepped in and ordered them to make a decision within a month's time.

At the March 2016 annual Town Meeting, voters adopted a new definition of agritourism and the New Hampshire State Legislature passed a law that included agritourism in its definition of agriculture.

Twomey filed four lawsuits against the town of Gilford in the Belknap County Superior Court, and all but one were dismissed. Andrew and Martina Howe joined the lawsuit as intervenors.

Andy Howe said Tuesday they hosted one wedding in a pavilion near the family farm stand, Beans and Greens, and said it was a very successful event. He said the farm itself had a great summer but declined to comment further while negotiations continue.

The three parties are scheduled to reappear in court sometime around Dec. 14 or as the court calendar permits. All parties seemed confident that an agreement could be reached.

Speaking on behalf of the town of Gilford, Town Administrator Scott Dunn declined to reveal any of the settlement negotiations but added that as long as any agreement between the Howes and Twomey falls within the town's zoning regulations, he would be fine with it.

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Tautkus, headed for Assumption, sets sights on one more title for LHS

By ROGER AMSDEN, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Laconia High School senior Helen Tautkus will be playing college lacrosse next year for Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, after signing a letter of intent Tuesday in a ceremony at Laconia High School.
But first she has one more task that she hopes to complete while still in high school – leading the Sachems to their third straight women's lacrosse Division III state title.
In June of this year, Tautkus scored eight goals to lead her team to a 14-13 come-from-behind win over Kearsarge for a second straight title. Her coach, Kerri Howe, said she's looking forward to Tautkus as a captain playing a leadership role for the Sachems next spring.
"You have that fire, that gift. You have a lot to look forward to," said Howe She said that one of her favorite moments coaching Tautkus was when she was a sophomore and the team had reached the final four, and an opposing coach had been seen on television not even bringing up Laconia as a possible challenger.
"She was on fire that we were being dismissed as not a factor. And she let all her teammates know it and we went on to win it all," said Howe.
Tautkus has also been a standout on the basketball court, having played a key role in bringing the Laconia High School girls to the Division III championship game where she scored 15 points as they lost to undefeated Gilford.
Tautkus has already scored 188 goals in her three years of playing lacrosse, a school record which she will be adding to with every goal next year.
Tautkus thanked her parents, her coaches and her teammates and shared the celebration cake with those attending the ceremony which was held in the cafeteria at the Huot Technical Center at Laconia High School.

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Laconia High School Senior Helen Tautkus smiles after signing a letter of intent to play lacrosse at Assumption College. Her sister, Skyler, a sophomore at LHS, is at the left. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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Laconia is recognized for fluoridation of water

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

CONCORD — The Laconia Water Works is among seven municipal water systems in New Hampshire to receive a Water Fluoridation Quality Award from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for maintaining an optimal level of fluoridated water throughout 2015.

Fluoridation refers to adjusting the concentration of fluoride, which occurs naturally, in drinking water to a level that is effective in preventing tooth decay. Drinking fluoridated water reduces cavities by 25 percent in both children and adults.

"Water fluoridation is one of the best investments that communities can make in maintaining the oral health of their citizens," said Casey Hannan, acting director of the Division of Oral Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "It is equally effective in preventing cavities in children and adults. Fluoridation is also highly cost effective; studies continue to show that for every $1 invested by communities in water fluoridation, $38 is saved in dental treatment costs."

Three-quarters of American, or 211 million people, have access to optimally fluoridated tap water. But fewer than half of New Hampshire residents served by a public water system receive fluoridated water. Many New Hampshire residents are served by private wells, which may or may not have naturally occurring fluoride.

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