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ZBA lifts cease & desist order against Beans & Greens

GILFORD — The Zoning Board of Adjustment voted 3-1 to grant the appeal of a cease and desist order from the town which would have prevented Andy and Martina Howe from hosting agri-tourism events like weddings at their property on Gunstock Hill Road.
The decision came following a public hearing which lasted nearly two hours and at which strong support was expressed for the Howes and their use of the property for so-called farm to table events.
The cease and desist order was issued by town's code enforcement officer on August 26 after the town had received complaints from abutters regarding weddings being held at the Howe's property at Timber Hill Farm, which is located in a single-family residential zone.
The cease and desist order said that the Howes could not resume holding weddings or other similar activities until they had obtained site plan approvals from the planning board for the property which also would most likely require a land-use variance from the ZBA in order to obtain site plan approval.
Last week the ZBA had tabled the appeal by the Howes due to lack of a quorum and selectmen appointed former selectman Connie Grant to serve as an alternate on the ZBA. Scott Davis who chaired last night's meeting, asked the Howes if they were willing to proceed with only four members instead of a full-five member board and they agreed.
Atty. Patrick Wood, who represented the Howes, said that the issue was the Farm to Table aspect of the business, which he said encompassed weddings as they were a part of selling products which were produced on the farm, and met the standards of the town's zoning ordinance.
Attorney Joseph Driscoll, who represents abutters, said that their concern was that the Howes were not going through the prescribed process for obtaining site plan approval and a variance,
ZBA member Bill Knightly moved to support the town's cease and desist order, maintaining that weddings were not an agricultural activity and was the only person voting for his own motion. Grant, Davis and Ann Montminy all voted no on the motion upholding the town's cease and desist order.
Wood said that the Howes plan to build a barn on their Gunstock Hill Road property to host future events and will submit the plan later this week to the Gilford Planning Board.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 September 2015 01:57

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U.S. Business Rte. 3 is back on the map in Laconia

LACONIA — Without debate, the City Council on Monday night unanimously approved the expenditure of $3,315 to erect signage marking Court Street and Union Avenue, from one end of the city to the other, as U.S. Business Rte. 3.

Charlie St. Clair, who has sought to add the signage since the 1990s, renewed his efforts earlier this year, reminding the council that prior to the construction of the U.S. Rte. 3 and N.H. Rte. 11 Bypass this stretch of roadway was designated as U.S. Route 3 but ever since has been designated as N.H. Rte 11-A and N.H. Rte. 107. He contends that visitors unfamiliar with the area would be more likely to travel into the city knowing that they would ultimately be routed back to U.S .Route 3. Motorists are directed to business route in other parts of the country and the state, he said, particularly where bypasses circumventing downtowns have been constructed.

Google Maps continues to refer to Court Street and Union Ave. as U.S. Business Rte. 3.

Authority over signage within the so-called "urban compact zone," the area where the city maintains, manages and polices state highways, rests with the city. The signs would be erected at seven intersections along the corridor defined by Court Street and Union Avenue between the Belmont town line near the entrance to the bypass to the east and McInyre Circle, where Union Avenue, Lake Street and Lakeshore Road intersect at the Gilford town line, to the north.

Paul Moynihan, director of public works, has recommended that 13 Business Rte. 3 signs, 13 black and white arrows, 12 north-south signs and 13 sign posts will be required to mark the route at an estimated cost of $3,315. In addition, Moynihan estimated the in-house labor cost of erecting the signs at $1,200, bringing the total cost of the project to $4,515.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 September 2015 11:37

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Robot discovers body of apparent suicide victim

MEREDITH — A 49-year-old man died of an apparent suicide at the Meredith Bay Village retirement community on Monday.
Police said they were called at 2:11 p.m. to 19 Abbey Lane by a report of a male subject "threatening to harm himself with a firearm."
Police said they were able to make telephone communication with the man at 2:15. p.m. and at 2:30 p.m. the Belknap County Special Operations Unit was called to the scene. Open communication continued according to police, who said that at 4:08 p.m. a single shot from a firearm from inside the home was heard by officers outside the residence.
Telephone communication continued for about hour after the shot was heard but the man did not communicate with police after that.
Just before 8 p.m., the SWAT team members, with the assistance of State Police, were able to enter the residence with a robot equipped with cameras. The male subject was located in the bedroom and was pronounced dead at the scene.
An autopsy was scheduled to be conducted by the state Medical Examiners office Tuesday.
The man's name and address are being withheld pending notification of his relatives, police said.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 September 2015 11:29

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Residents plead case for stop signs on Summit Ave.

LACONIA — The City Council this week referred a petition from residents of Summit Avenue, the street leading from Weirs Road (Rte. 1-B) to Governor's Island, asking for measures to curb speeding motorists to its Public Works Committee.

Speaking on behalf of the petitioners, Richard Homsi told the councilors that although the speed limit was reduced from 35 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour and the police are doing all they can, motorists going to and from the island routinely pass his home at speeds "well over 50 miles an hour". He said that the police have recorded speeds at twice the limit.

"Something's got to change," said Homsi, who added that the Governor's Island Association was selling its members custom made signs with a posted speed limit of 25 miles per hour while "speeding on our road getting there".

He reminded the council that the petitioners have suggested placing a three-way stop sign at the corner of Summit Avenue and Wentworth Cove Road, which they believe will slow traffic.

Robert Heinrich, a resident of Gilford who regularly visits his "significant other" on Wentworth Cove Road, disagreed. He said there were not a significant number of speeders on Summit Avenue and pointed out that the speed limit sign is currently obscured by foliage. A three-way stop sign, he described as "a waste of gas and brakes". Discounting the importance of the issue, he claimed that it was simply another chapter in the longstanding feud between Homsi and the Governor's Island Association.

Two other residents of the street attended the meeting and backed Homsi's position.

NOTE: The City Council renewed the lease of the Memorial Park House to the New Covenant Church for a period of five years at a rent of $1,000 per month. Councilor Henry Lipman (Ward 3), who chairs the Finance Committee, questioned the wisdom of the city not asking for an increase in rent, which he described as providing a subsidy to the church, but joined his colleagues in unanimously agreeing to renew the lease.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 September 2015 11:24

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