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Congregational Society planning to sell 5 house lots on historic Smith Meeting House grounds

GILMANTON — A plan by the trustees of the First Congregational Society to subdivide the property and carve out five building lots has met a road block over whether or not the road should be paved.

During a public hearing held in December, the Society's George B. Roberts, Jr., accompanied by Laconia attorney Pat Wood, met with the Planning Board about the project.

Minutes said the goal of the subdivision was to sell the private building lots to create an endowment that will pay for maintenance and upkeep in the portion of the property around the historic Smith Meeting House, which was constructed in 1774. The total lot size is 20 acres.

"It is the First Congregational Society's intent to maintain the historic character and preserve the elements in compliance with the Historic District," read the minutes that captured Wood's statements to the Planning Board.

Any houses, said Wood, would be in keeping with the character of the property.

The project's scope includes upgrading 1,251-feet of Parsonage Hill Road and about 900-feet of Governors Road, to the end of the subdivision. Both would have hammerhead turnouts for emergency vehicles and plows.

Roberts said no one in the Society would have anything to do with the marketing or selling of the lots and he anticipated that the sales could take five to six years.

The Society wants to develop the roads to Class V standards but doesn't want to pave them. Roberts said that high costs of paving the roads coupled with the current real estate market would mean the Society wouldn't raise enough money through the sales of property to perpetually maintain the Meeting House and its environs.

Under current subdivision regulations in Gilmanton, building on Class VI roads is not allow and all new Class V roads must be paved.

In asking for a waiver, Wood reiterated the project would not be feasible in paving was a requirement; the spirit and the intent of the Historic District Committee would be maintained; the importance of preservation is recognized; the road agent and the fire chief were amenable to the design; the maintaining a gravel road and hammerheads are less costly than if they were paved; and that shared driveways were proposed along Parsonage Hill Road.

Woods said that in his opinion the waiver requirements have been met.

Selectman Don Guarino, who is the selectman's representative to the Planning Board recused himself and Ralph Lavin sat in his place.

From the floor, Guarino said he objected to waiving the pavement requirements because every other developer has to meet the requirements. He said Wood's contention that the Society is not a developer doesn't pass muster because in this case it is acting as a developer. He cited several recent developments in town including Sawgrass Road, a proposed Howard Road, subdivision, a subdivision on Burke Road and others required pavement.

Guarino said the town has not been adding any dirt roads and it would be a mistake not to pave the roads in this subdivision proposal.

Planning Board members adjourned the public hearing so they could consult with the town attorney.

Since that meeting, Roberts has filed a petition with the Board of Selectman to make Governor's Road a Class V road.

Selectmen have to decide the layout of new roads and can give consideration as to whether it should be paved or not. Roberts also asked the Planning Board to delay any consideration of the subdivision proposal until the Board of Selectmen have made a decision.

Town Administrator Arthur Capello asked Roberts to provide the town with a list of abutters so the selectmen could send them notices of a public hearing. The date for the public hearing has not been set.

Roberts could not be reached on Thursday for comment.

Last Updated on Friday, 07 February 2014 01:35

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Victim of untimely death in Belmont identified; investigation ongoing

BELMONT — Police have identified the man who died in what was called an untimely manner at 56 Arlene Drive Tuesday night as Michael Chamberlain, 26, of Clinton Street in Laconia.

Police said an autopsy along with toxicology tests were done yesterday by the N.H. State Medical Examiner and police are awaiting the result.

Mann said this is an active investigation and police are working to determine where Chamberlain had been and who he was with up until the time of his death.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the Belmont Police at 267-8350. He said callers can remain anonymous.

Last Updated on Friday, 07 February 2014 01:25

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Pond Hockey Classic founder organizes, then skates

MEREDITH — Scott Crowder not only runs the New England Pond Hockey Classic each year, he takes his own turn on the Meredith Bay ice as well. A former UMass skater, he plays with friends on the Winnipesaukee Whalers team that competes in the classic's open division, the toughest of seven.

"It is all about bringing people together to play some good old hockey and play outdoors," said Crowder when asked why he takes on such a task.

Devoted to promoting and expanding accessibility to the sport he grew up around in Nashua, Crowder founded the Classic five years ago and has shepherded its growth to where the just completed event featured 225 teams playing over three days on 22 improvised rinks. In addition to the Lakes Region tournament, he  last year added a second tournament to his schedule on the ice of Lake Champlain, and this year is adding a third, on Flathead Lake, Montana.

A total of 42 teams started out the tournament in the open division. The Whalers began their first game on Friday facing the Young Green Guns from Boston, MA, but were "up to their A-game" and the contest ended in a draw. Later in the day the team took the ice once more facing the Bulldogs also from Boston. Their second game that day ended with a win.

After the Whalers picked up their second win, on Saturday against the Barn Burners from Metheun, MA, Crowder commented, "This is our favorite week of the year. There is nothing like taking the ice as a team and playing the sport we love. It is seeing the people all around grinning from ear to ear while enjoying some local food and local sport that makes it all worth it."

The Whalers then moved from Rink 3 to Rink 18 to face a team from Everett, MA calling itself State. The Whalers effort again produced a win, this time 18-10.

Moving on to the playoffs, the open division was narrowed down to the top 16 teams. The Whalers faced the Bauer Experience from Exeter and were eliminated by a score of 14-4. The division title was eventually claimed by Paddy's of Cambridge, MA, which earned a 2-1 win over the Ice Holes of Wakefield, MA, in the championship game.

"It was great being able to reconnect with friends from high school and college to play hockey, as well as enjoy the local food and drink in the area," said Crowder. "Watching thousands of people come together out on the ice has made it all worth it, and believe it or not, just one day after the 2014 tournament has come to an end I already have had people asking about the 2015 tournament so they can put it on their calendars."


Last Updated on Thursday, 06 February 2014 12:42

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Holderness’s Julia Ford representing U.S. at Olympics

HOLDERNESS — A Holderness woman is one of three Granite State skiers who have been named to the U.S. Olympic Ski Team which will be competing in the Winter Games later this month in Sochi, Russia.
Julia Ford was chosen for the Alpine Ski Team.
Ford, who turns 24 next month, is a 2008 graduate of Holderness School, where she was on the school's ski team, and also played soccer and lacrosse as well as serving at student body president.
"She's a very good athlete," said George "Jory" Macomber, the associate head of school at Holderness who also coached Ford when she was a freshman on the ski team. "What really impressed me was how she really focused in the big moments. The bigger the event the better she is."
A member of a ski-racing family, Ford competes in the downhill and the super giant slalom — or Super G – events. Macomber said that it has not yet been decided which events Ford will compete in at Sochi.
Ford's parents, Duane and Lori Ford, both work at Holderness School. Her father is the school's director of residential life and also teaches math and coaches the school's football and men's lacrosse teams. Her mother is a coach for the Holderness ski team, but was coaching in Vermont when Julia was at Holderness.
Ford, who is a student a Westminster College in Utah when she is not training for competition, is one of two Holderness graduates who will be competing in Sochi, according to Courtney Williamson, Holderness's director of communications.
The other is Julia Marino, who will be sole athlete representing Paraguay in the Winter Olympics. Marino, who graduated from Holderness in 2011, holds dual citizenship in Paraguay and the U.S. Born in the land-locked South American country, she grew up in Massachusetts and attended Holderness for her senior year. She is holds the distinction of being the first athlete to compete for Paraguay in the Winter Olympics.
Marino, who is a sophomore at the University of Colorado, will be competing in slopestyle skiing — a new event in the Winter Games. Slopestyle skiing consists of a downhill course with obstacles including jumps and rails (akin to skateboarding) that skiers use to perform tricks.
"We're very proud of our two Olympic athlete," said Williamson.

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 February 2014 09:45

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