City Council approves 2-year-lease for Lakeport Landing marina; sale to competitor scheduled to close at end of lease period

LACONIA — The City Council this week unanimously agreed to lease the property at 21 Elm Street for two more years to Lakeport Landing marina.

Lakeport Landing has leased the property from the city since 1985, but on November 1 its third 10-year lease will expire and the company is out of renewal options. For months the city council wrestled with the request of marina owner Erica Blizzard to retain control or take ownership of the property when the lease expires, but in June decided to sell it for $528,000 to Irwin Marine, which owns the abutting property. Blizzard had offered nearly $200,000 less.

Among the conditions of the sale is a provision that the city will not transfer title to the property to Irwin Marine for two years to enable Blizzard to make alternative arrangements for housing the headquarters of her business.

When Lakeport Landing's lease expires on Sunday, the city will not only retain ownership of the land but also take ownership of the 9,076-square-foot building the marina built on it in 1987. For the last 10 years Lakeport, Landing has leased the lot owned by the city for $8,750 per year. Although the city will own both the land and the building, under the terms of the two-year lease the annual rent for the property will remain the same, without reflecting the additional value of the building.

Meanwhile, Blizzard has filed suit in Belknap County Superior Court challenging the council's decision to sell the property to Irwin Marine. With the course and timing of the litigation unclear, City Manager Scott Myers said that for the moment he is a assuming that the city will close its purchase and sales agreement and transfer the property to Irwin Marine in approximately two years time.

Police ID man they were looking for in Laconia apartment house during Tuesday siege

LACONIA — Police have activated an arrest warrant for Robert Audette, 26, who is wanted on a charge of criminal threatening with a deadly weapon, a class B felony.

Police allege that Audette pointed a firearm at another man while they and others were in an apartment at 20 Jewett Street on Tuesday. The incident prompted police to cordon off the neighborhood, evacuate nearby homes and surround the building then spend much of the afternoon urging the suspect to come out of the building with empty hands in the air. Ultimately, a heavily armed team of the Belknap County Special Operations Group entered the building amid a cloud of tear gas only to find no one inside. But, police searching the building found a shotgun and several rounds of ammunition.

Police believe Audette fled before reached the scene.

Anyone with information leading to Audette's whereabouts should call 911 or contact the Laconia Police Department at 524-5252.

Proposal for motocross track off Rte. 140 tabled by ZBA

BELMONT — The Zoning Board of Adjustment has tabled a request from East Coast Militia MX for a special zoning exception to operate a motocross test track in an industrial zone off Rte. 140.
East Coast currently operates a track on Rte. 106 near the Lakes Region Casino and wants to move to a new location, according to Bill McHugh, president of East Coast Militia, who has told the ZBA that they want a bigger site than they currently have.
ZBA Chairman Peter Harris said that the board tabled the request in order to give it time to assess new evidence received at a public hearing for abutters that lasted more than two hours Wednesday night.
It was the second public hearing on the proposal that has attracted a large turnout, according to Harris, who said that one held in late June filled the Corner House meeting room.
''The abutters were still upset,'' said Harris, who said that many of the same concerns raised at the June meeting were brought up again, mostly with regard to noise levels over the weekend and the track's location within an aquifer overlay zone.
The 24-acre site property is located in an industrial zone and races take place on a dirt track with riders jumping over dirt piles.
McHugh told the board in June that there will be between 50 and 60 bikes at most, but usually only 10-15 bikes at one time. McHugh said the riders come and go at different times and there are three classes of riders; the kids class, the weekend warriors class and the racer class.
The application indicates there are substantial vegetative buffers in the area of the proposed track which will be open three days a week. The company will use its own water truck to keep dust to a minimum.
The proposed days of operation are Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and either Wednesdays or Thursdays from 3 to 8 p.m.
Harris said that the board will take up the application again when it meets on November 18.