LACONIA — The city's Zoning Task Force has proposed that zoning along Weirs Boulevard, which is currently zoned for its entire length as a commercial resort area, be changed to shorefront residential from the Naswa Resort resort south to the intersection with White Oaks Road.
The task force will present the proposed change to the Planning Board in March, according to task force Chairperson Suzanne Perley, who said that once the board holds a public hearing on the proposal it will provide the kind of input needed to fine tune zoning changes, which will ultimately have to have City Council approval.
The commercial resort district begins on Lake Street, just south of its junction with White Oaks Road, extends northward along Weirs Boulevard, includes the center of The Weirs and runs either side of Route 3 to the Meredith town line. It also includes property along both sides of Rte. 11-B, including the former Surf Coaster property, which would remain zoned as commercial resort according to a map prepared by Planning Director Shanna Saunders.
The zoning ordinance describes the district as intended to accommodate dining, lodging and recreation entities for both occasional tourists and seasonal residents as well as apartments and condominiums.
Last fall, the City council asked the Planning Board to review the table of uses permitted in the commercial resort zone, and to consider whether all of the land currently included in that zone should remain so.
The council's request was made in the aftermath of decisions by the city's Zoning Board of Adjustment to deny special exceptions to John Ganong of 355 Weirs Boulevard, and Charles Gulbicki of Gulbicki's Towing and Auto Repair at 1193 Weirs Boulevard, both of whom sought to sell used vehicles on their property. "Vehicle dealership, sales and service" is only permitted in the commercial district by special exception. Earlier the ZBA granted a special exception to Benson's Auto Inc. of Franklin to sell vehicles from a lot near the corner of Rollercoaster Road and Route 3 in the same zoning district.
A number of Weirs Beach business owners told City Council last year they didn't want to see cars being sold anywhere in the area.
The proposed change of most of Weirs Blvd. from commercial resort to shorefront residential would prohibit vehicle dealership, sales and service in, which would include Ganong's property, but not Gulbicki's.
Members of the task force spent more than an hour Thursday morning attempting to define the limits of the proposed SFR district and whether or not it should start at the Weirs traffic circle or further south before settling on the Naswa property as the demarcation line.
Planing Board Chairman Warren Hutchins, who has noted that the boulevard has become largely residential due to the transition from cottage colonies to condominiums, said that the change was part of a concerted effort for residents of the area as well as to protect the shorefront strip along the water.
Board members discussed the fate of the Christmas Island Steakhouse, which has been closed for several months, but agreed that they couldn't do ''spot zoning'' to preserve options for the restaurant.
It was noted that all existing businesses in the CFR zone would have their uses grandfathered under the proposed change.
The task force is also considering changes in permitted uses in the commercial resort district which would include require nightclubs and dance halls, currently permitted, to requiring special exemptions. Indoor storage, self-service also currently permitted, would be prohibited while car-wash, detailing, currently permitted, would only be allowed by special exception.
A 296-unit self-storage units project on a 6.8-acre parcel fronting Endicott Street North (Rte. 3) is before the Planning Board for approval at this time.
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