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Arbo Ministries alters course in effort to gain approval

GILFORD — After getting to know their neighbors a little better, the couple who had hoped to turn a former farm on Curtis Road into a church have scaled back their plans.

Rather than seek a special exception from the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) to have a church in a "limited residential" zone, Arbo Ministries proposed a "home-based business" that would require only a change of use from the Planning Board.

Although their newest proposal was tabled by the Planning Board on Monday evening, pending a site walk and a conversation with Town Planner John Ayer, who could not attend, most of the neighbors present seemed much more amenable to the revised proposal than to the first.

"I applaud your decision not to go forward with full zoning (board approval)," said abutter Bill Nutter.

Speaking for the ministry, engineer Jon Rokeh explained to the board that Steve and Barbara Arbo, their neighbors, and Ayer worked out a set of conditions for a change of use that included five criteria, the first being that the existing structures on the property would not be altered renovated on demolished and the open field to the east will stay the same.

The second and third were that a maximum of 12 cars will be parked on the property, not including the garage, and that no more than 35 people, excluding family, will be attending any of the planned religious observances.

The fourth was all proposed changes must be approved by the appropriate town official, agency, or board.

The fifth was that there would be no church or institutional activities within 75 feet of the easterly lot line shared with Nutter and his wife Nutter. Those activities include prayer walks, benches, gazebos or any other structure, including tents.

Member of the board asked if there were to be bells, music, loudspeakers or any other thing that makes an inordinate amount of noise and the answer was no.

In addition, the Arbos agreed that there were to be no overnight guests for religious events.

Barbara Arbo said she expects there will be one large prayer group meeting per month and smaller ones every other weekend but they would end by early evening.

She said prayer school would be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and there could be an occasional barbecue on by the front porch that looks out on Cherry Valley Road.

Part of the plan includes the reestablishment of a driveway that exits onto Cherry Valley Road. Abutter Adrian Curtis said he would like to see some of the brush cut away from the old driveway to improve the visibility.

Neighbor Renee Colby was still opposed, primarily because there will be additional traffic on "my dead end residential street." She said she had two small children and also had some concerns with traffic coming from the Arbos coinciding with school bus pickup and dropoff.

During the discussion part of the meeting, and after the public presentation had ended, Planning Board members were divided.

Norm Silber said he felt that putting a church into a home business instead of getting a special exemption from the ZBA is "like putting a square peg in a round hole."

"It gives all the appearances of a church," he said. "If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck..."

Jerry Gagnon was the member who suggested a site walk. While not commenting on the nature of the proposed "home business" he said he's first like to see where the 12 proposed parking spaces will be sited and look at the old driveway for traffic safety issues.

Member Chan Eddy was very supportive of the Arbo's proposal as presented to the Planning Board, although he agreed to table the motion until the board could speak with Ayer. He added he ,too, would like to see the parking configuration.

The site walk is scheduled for 4 p.m. on September 8.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 August 2014 12:26

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Environmental clean-up underway at former oil depot site

LACONIA — Work has begun to remove abandoned fuel tanks and contaminated soils from the property at 55 Bay Street, which lies between the railroad track and Winnisquam Avenue, owned by the Fred Fuller Oil Co, Inc.

Cheryl Bentley of Aries Engineering, Inc. of Concord, which is partnering with TMC Environmental of Portsmouth on the project, anticipated that about a month will be required to removed approximately 4,800 cubic yards of soil and 60,000 gallons of groundwater from the site. In addition, A 1,628-square-foot office building on the site will be demolished. However, a garage backing on to Winnisquam Avenue will remain on the site.

There are six underground storage tanks on the site, five 20,000 gallon tanks, four of which contained home heating oil and a fifth holding kerosene. The six tank, containing gasoline, was only found this week, after work was underway. Bentley said that there was fuel in the tank, which would be pumped empty and removed.

Bentley said that after testing indicated relatively low levels of contamination in the soil the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) determined it could be safely transported to a landfill in Bethlehem.

Monitoring wells on the site and in the neighborhood have measured the level and extent of contamination for more than a decade. The clean up operation, which is budgeted to cost almost $300,000, is underwritten by the "Oil Discharge and Disposal Cleanup Fund" established in 1988, which itself is funded by a fee levied on all oil imported into the state. Michael Donahue, principal engineer at Aries Engineering, said that the fund has facilitated the clean up, transfer and redevelopment of compliant facilities by eliminating the prolonged, expensive and often contentious process of seeking to assign liability. particularly when a site has had a series of owners.

Donahue said that the site will continue to be monitored and if necessary further excavation of contaminated material will be undertaken.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 August 2014 11:54

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Donor will pay for disc golf course in Laconia

LACONIA — A woman, whose late brother was very fond of frisbee golf , has offered to outfit a course for the city if the Parks and Recreation Commission can find an appropriate location.

Kevin Dunleavy, director of Parks of Recreation, said the woman told the commission this week that she would donate the necessary equipment as well as lead a fundraising effort to underwrite the facility.

In frisbee golf, also called Frolf or disc golf, individual players toss a disc, usually eight or nine inches, at a series of targets, most often a ring hung with chains mounted above a shallow basket on a pole. A player "holes out" by placing the disc in the basket. The game originated in the early 1960s, began to be formalized a decade later and has grown rapidly since 2000, with the number of courses in the U.S. doubling to more than 3,000 by 2008.

Dunleavy said that the commission will consider if there is a suitable site for a course either in one of the city parks or some other city property and schedule a second discussion of the proposal, most likely in November.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 August 2014 11:48

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6 new members elected to LHS Athletic Hall of Fame; first additions since 1989

LACONIA — For the first time in 25 years, new members will be inducted this fall into the Laconia High School Athletic Hall of Fame. The Class of 2014 will consist of Mickey Donovan ('99) football/baseball, Jim Fitzgerald ('70-'01) football coach/athletic director, Nick Ford ('05) track/football, Chris Phelps ('87), basketball/football/track, Jim Swormstedt ('87) basketball/football, and Alan Wool ('68) winter track/baseball/football.

Formal induction will occur during homecoming weekend, on Saturday, Sept. 20. There will be a cocktail hour from 5 to 6 p.m. in the Meredith Village Savings Band Culinary Arts Dining Room of the Huot Technical Center and a ceremony will follow at 6 p.m. in the high school auditorium. Long-time voice of the Sachems David Rea will serve as Master of Ceremonies. The evening will conclude with dessert back in the dining room. Tickets for the event are priced at $15 and are available at the LHS Student Activity Office.

The last class inducted into the school's Hall of Fame was in 1989. Athletic Director Craig Kozens led a group that has spent two years doing research and re-defining a mission for the hall. "Through intensive study, we found that the Laconia Citizen's sports reporters were the trailblazers of the original hall," said Kozens. "Now the Laconia Coaches Council has embraced this task and it amassed a committee to bring the tradition back to the City of Laconia. It is with great pride that this committee will, once again, recognize outstanding contributions to the legacy of Laconia athletics."

Candidates for the Class of 2014 were nominated in the spring. (The criteria for selection may be found on the Laconia High School Athletic Department webpage.) The committee met several times and elected the six new inductees at the end of the July.

The Class of 2014 will be joining the Class of 1983, which includes Penny Pitou ('56), Kathy O'Neil ('77), Richard Tilton ('27), Bernie LaCroix ('49), Doug Housell ('51), Doug DeVarney'(61), Steve Stetson ('69), Mike Giguere ('69), Kent Yale ('72), and Chip Veazey ('72); the Class of 1984, which includes Jack Irwin ('50), Jeep Munzey ('49), and Guy Hamel ('68); the Class of 1985, which includes Beau Lessard ('49), Bidge Clement ('27), and Bobby Conway ('41); and the Class of 1989, which included John McGonigle ('59) and Phil Estes ('76).

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 August 2014 11:45

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