By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD — Marina owner Merrill Fay is looking to expand his boat storage capacity by purchasing a piece of land from the Laconia Airport Authority.
The 2.96-acre lot is just north of the property that houses Granite State Glass and is actually owned by the city of Laconia but lies entirely in Gilford.
Airport Director Marv Everson said Fay filed a letter of intent in late April with the authority to purchase the land. Should it be sold to him, the proceeds would go to benefit the Airport Authority and the land and building would be added to Gilford's tax roles.
The Gilford Site Plan Review Committee met yesterday morning and had few questions for engineer Steven Smith, who is working on behalf of Fay.
The Planning Board must approve a boundary line adjustment that is mainly to square off the lot and incorporate an old access road to what was supposed to be an industrial park years ago. It meets on May 16.
Smith told the Site Plan Review Committee members that, since the airport expanded the runway, there was not going to be any future use of the land by the airport. Everson echoed Smith's analysis said that the land is "off-airport property."
Conservation Commission Chairman Carole Hall said there was one corner near the rear of the property that is prime wetlands, but Smith said Fay has no need to go anywhere near it. If that is the case, Hall said she sees no reason why the Conservation Commission would need to review the application.
The largest amount of work that needs to be done, said Everson, is to satisfy the Federal Aviation Administration. He said the lot must be surveyed and a "yellow book appraisal," which satisfies all federal government land requirements, must be completed.
"We have to get a land release from the FAA in order to sell the property," he said, noting that once all of the paperwork and plans are complete, it should take them about 45 days to process.
As the owner, the city is party to the authority's relationship with the Federal Aviation Administration, while development at the airport is subject to the Gilford zoning ordinance in addition to the approval of the authority and FAA.
For Fay, its just a better was to serve his customers. He plans on building a 118-foot-by-100-foot enclosed steel structure that he will use to store boats.
"I don't like shrink wrap," he said, adding that it's expensive to put on and problematic to dispose of once winter is over.
Fay also said he wants to keep the boats he stores as close as possible to his marina and not transport them to Belmont and Laconia.
Everson sees the proposal as a win for the authority, which will get some money to do some items in its long-term management plan and as a win for the town of Gilford that will reap the tax income from the land and facility.
Mayor Edward Engler, by virtue of his being mayor, is the Chairman of the Airport Authority, and said the sale would have to be approved by the City Council but he sees no reason why it wouldn't agree.
"If it is good for the region, then it is good for all of us," said City Manager Scott Myers, who also said he sees no reason why the council wouldn't agree to the sale.
The Laconia Airport Authority was established to maintain an airport in the town of Gilford or elsewhere in Belknap County and to establish and maintain auxiliary landing places and facilities in Belknap County and towns contiguous to Lake Winnipesaukee, according to the city of Laconia website.
The star marks the location of land by the airport which Fay's Boat Yard, marked to the right, wants to buy for boat storage. (Graphic courtesy Google Maps)