Gilford selectmen decide not to appeal Timber Hill Farm agritourism ruling


GILFORD — Selectmen have decided not to appeal a Superior Court ruling regarding the legality of weddings at Timber Hill Farm.
Under the heading of "consideration of litigation," the board discussed their legal options in the case during a closed nonpublic session Wednesday, according to Town Administrator Scott Dunn.
On Thursday, Selectman Richard Grenier said, "I think there may be even more agritourism legislation coming down the road, so it's fluid. So right now we're not going to take any official position. We'll just see where it goes with the litigants."
In a Feb. 14 ruling, Belknap County Superior Court Judge James O'Neill overturned a Gilford Zoning Board decision that concluded that, under the town's zoning ordinance, weddings were permitted agricultural uses at Timber Hill Farm. A neighbor sued to prevent weddings at the Gilford farm, located at 263 Gunstock Hill Road, overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee.
Abutter Monique Twomey took the case to court after the Gilford Zoning Board of Adjustment reviewed an appeal of an administrative decision, a cease-and-desist order dated Aug. 26, 2015, relating to a section of the Gilford Zoning Ordinance governing agriculture. The order barred weddings at Timber Hill Farm.
The Zoning Board of Adjustments voted against the cease and desist order, finding that weddings and other farm-to-table events at Timber Hill Farm were permissible under "other commercial agricultural activity." Judge O'Neill vacated the zoning board's decision, finding that the board improperly interpreted "agriculture" as defined by the town's zoning ordinance.
At Town Meeting last year, voters broadened local ordinances. An article on last year's warrant created a new definition for agritourism.
Last year, Article 7 passed 1,145-228, amending the zoning ordinance to make agritourism uses subject to nuisance regulations; and Article 8 passed 900-408, creating definitions for agritourism and making it a permitted use in all zones except island residential.
The definitions found that the term "agritourism" means "attracting visitors to a working farm for the purpose of eating a meal, enjoyment of the farm environment, education on farm operations, or active involvement in the activity of the farm which is ancillary to the farm operation."

Barring a legal victory, Timber Hill Farm will need to come before the Planning Board with a new application and comply with the newly amended zoning ordinance, Dunn said.

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Vault Motor Storage wins variance for Belmont boat storage facility


BELMONT — Vault Motor Storage LLC of Merrimack plans to use a model of state-of-the-art construction and technology when building a nearly 200,000-square-foot storage facility on Higgins Drive, the applicant said.
Charlie Morgan of Vault Motor Storage LLC said the footprint for the Belmont climate-controlled storage facility is 89,000 square feet with two floors.
"We store RVs and automobiles, high-end automobiles, boats. It's a first-class storage facility," Morgan said.
Morgan Storage provided vehicle storage at Manchester and Salem locations but found demand from customers for more space for auto storage, according to the company website ( In 2013, the company built its 110,000-square-foot Vault Motor Storage facility in Merrimack.
Seeking to build storage units in the Lakes Region, Morgan was refused twice in Laconia, but Morgan said, "Belmont is going to work with me."
In December, the Laconia Zoning Board of Adjustment voted down a proposal to build a heated indoor storage facility on Watson Road near its intersection with U.S. Route 3 at The Weirs; this request was the second such — both from Vault Storage — to fail to gain relief from a prohibition against indoor motor vehicle storage in the city's Commercial-Resort District. Earlier in 2015, Vault Storage had sought to build on the old Surfcoaster property at the corner of Endicott Street East (Route 11B) and White Oaks Road.
In Belmont, the Higgins Drive site is vacant property created in the 1980s when a business park was built, Belmont Town Planner Candace Daigle said. The lot previously was approved for Hangtime Sports, which pursued site plan approval and a special exception for an indoor skate park. The park was never built.
Boat storage is not allowed in the industrial zone, so Morgan approached the Zoning Board for a variance, which was granted at the board's Feb. 22 meeting. Daigle said Vault Motor Storage withdrew a request for outdoor covered storage and applied only for the indoor facility.
The company now will come to the Application Review Committee and then make site plan application at the Planning Board, she said.
Vault Motor Storage could be at the Application Review Committee as early as March 23 and the Planning Board as early as April 24.

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Humane Society reaches out to kids with animals


LACONIA — Volunteers from the New Hampshire Humane Society are providing pet education programs in area schools and at early learning centers in the Lakes Region.
Meg Greenbaum, Deb Corr and Lynn Davis, all of whom have backgrounds in education, visited the Boys & Girls Club of the Lakes Region Thursday afternoon, where they met with a group of teens to discuss pet behaviors and presented a slide show on understanding what those behaviors mean.
They were joined by Chele Miller of Tamworth, the former principal of Moultonborough Central School, who brought along her African Gray parrot "Cracker," who is named for her brother. Miller said that African Gray parrots are very intelligent and can count to five and even distinguish between colors. They are also known for their ability to mimic human speech and natural sounds.They also can live up to 30 or 40 years and one is known for having lived to 70.
Humane Society volunteers have been making weekly visits to the club to present programs for different age levels and have also presented programs in Ashland and in other schools, often bringing along one of the cats that are up for adoption at the society. They also bring their own dogs to the programs they present.
On March 9 they will be hosting students at the Humane Society Shelter on Meredith Center Road and visiting the Headstart program in Laconia on March 13.
For more information about the program, contact the NHHS Education Outreach Team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

02-23 parrot

Chele Miller of Tamworth brought her African Gray parrot "Cracker" to the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region in Laconia Thursday afternoon as part of a pet education program of the New Hampshire Humane Society. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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