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Laconia man appealing court's order to pay legal fees of Governors Island Assoc.

LACONIA — A city resident whose property is included by deed in the Governors Island Association is appealing the court's decision to award legal fees to the club after a prolonged dispute about what he could do with his property.

Belknap County Superior Court Judge James O'Neill awarded the association $45,713 and earlier this week ordered an $50,000 attachment on any property Richard Homsi owns in the state.

The war between Homsi and the Governors Island Association began in 2012 when Homsi decided to add a cottage to the top of a garage he wanted to build on his property, which is located just on the Laconia side of the bridge that leads to the island, which is in Gilford.

Although the garage and cottage were allowable under Laconia's zoning ordinances, the unattached structure was not allowed according to the deed restrictions and covenants associated with belonging to the Governors Island Association.

The decision to include the property in the GIA was made by a previous owner but, typically in law, deed restrictions trump zoning ordinances.

Unable to present the governing board of the GIA an acceptable plan for a garage and a cottage, the GIA took him to court, initially getting a cease and desist order on the construction and later an order to tear down what he had already built.

The final judgment also granted $45,713 in legal fees to the association.

Homsi has appealed the decision to award legal fees to the N.H. Supreme Court, asking the court to decide whether or not the trial court committed a reversible error by finding the petitioned had no duty to mitigate its damages that led to the legal fees and whether or not the trial court had an obligation to inform Homsi that even though he belongs to the GIA he was still subjected to paying the legal fees incurred by his actions and the subsequent suit they filed against him.

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 April 2014 02:02

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Belmont woman wants to bring competitive swimming event to town's Roberts Beach in 2015

BELMONT — If one of the town's newest residents has her way, Leslie Roberts Town Beach could be hosting a "aquathon" in the summer of 2015.

Organizer Corina Cisneros, who brought her plan to the Belmont Application Review Committee, said her proposal is still in the development phase but she is meeting with selectmen Monday to see if she can use the beach for a day.

"Lake Winnisquam is a beautiful lake but nobody's doing anything one it," Cisneros said, directing her remarks toward major events like the Timberman on Lake Winnipesaukee and the Marshmallow Man Triathalon held on Lake Opechee.

She said she knows the beach size is limited but feels a smaller competitive swim event would be perfect for Belmont.

Cisneros said the event is sanctioned by the World Open Water Swimming Association and would be paid for by entry fees and sponsorships. She said the reason she is targeting 2015 is because she wants it to be a good and well-organized event and it will take that long to get her sponsors organized.

She said WOWSA has set standards for open water swimming events and her organization would provide kayaks for safety around what would be a .6-mile loop demarcated by buoys.

A .6-mile swim is the equivalent of swimming 40 lengths (or two laps) in a swimming pool.

Cisnero said that if the BRATT hike and bike trail was finished, the event could add a running component that would include a run to the Tilton line and back.

"It would be great with all the spectators able to line the trail," she said.

She added that she was in discussions with some local school districts to add a friendly competition between schools that could include relays for both swimming and running or some combination of the two.

So far, the suggestion has been met with enthusiasm from department heads in Belmont.

While each department has its own issues that must be addressed — like traffic and parking for the police and water safety and hydration for the Fire Department — minutes from the ARC meeting indicated that if Cicneros could satisfy the requirements, the department head would love to see Belmont get an event like the one she is planning.

She said Town Planner Candace Daigle has been particularly helpful to her in helping her navigate the waters for her first effort and all of the department heads have helped her by offering her suggestions for hosting a successful event.

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 April 2014 01:56

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Kimball Castle committee will press on for LCHIP grant after Gilford ConCom says 'no'

GILFORD — Although the Conservation Commission this week voted against spending money from its trust on acquiring the 20 acres of private land owned by Kimball Castle LLC., the Kimball Castle Wildlife Forest Committee says it will go forward with pursuing state money for preserving the castle.

Sandra McGonagle said yesterday the committee's intent is to complete an LCHIP ( Land and Community Heritage Investment Program) grant application for assistance in purchasing the property from the owner.

"Out intent always was to complete an LCHIP Grant, use money in the Kimball Castle Wildlife Forest Trust and raise money through donations," she said. She said there is about $200,000 in in the trust.

Town Administrator Scott Dunn said the idea of asking if the Conservation Commission was interested in helping was his. He said the Conservation Commission has a Natural Resource Inventory Plan in place that has targeted specific properties for conservation and preservation and the decision against buying it was that the 20 acre Kimball Castle property was not on their priority list.

Conservation Commission Chair John Goodhue said yesterday that he felt the best thing his commission could do is nothing.

"This is crazy. Let's walk away from this," he said noting that he thinks the asking price of $700,000 is too much and that it would not be conservation money well spent.

Dunn said the town used money from the Wildlife Forest Committee to hire Fremeau Appraisals in Manchester to provide the town with an independent appraisal. He anticipates the appraisal will be presented at the Kimball Castle Forum on April 9 at the Gilford Town Hall and will cost between $3,000 and $3,500.

Once the town has an independent appraisal, in theory those who want to save the castle can go to the private owner an see if he'll accept an officer.

David Jodoin, who is the principal owner of Kimball Castle LLC, wants to demolish the castle and sell the property as a single family building lot. He told selectmen at a meeting last year that any hopes he had for restoring the castle are gone and that despite his repeated efforts to secure the property, people continue to trespass on his land and vandalize the castle.

In March of 2013, Town Code Enforcement Officer Dave Andrade determined the castle was unsafe and Jodoin needed either to tear down the castle or build and maintain a security fence around the property.

Selectmen have extended the deadline to destroy or fence the castle until April 30 so the group of people who would like to save the castle can have an opportunity to create a plan to purchase the property and safely preserve the castle.

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 April 2014 01:51

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Council discussion of proposed police budget focuses on addressing heroin issue; LFD overtime again questioned

LACONIA — Members of the City Council reviewed police and fire department proposed budgets for 2014-2015 on Monday night and were told by the respective chiefs that they are making progress but severe problems remain to be dealt with.
For police the most recent problem is what Chief Chris Adams calls an epidemic of heroin abuse in the last 18 months which has led to several deaths and for Fire Chief Ken Erickson it is a high rate of structure fires which is three times the state average (4.62 per thousand residents compared to 1.6 statewide.)
Adams said the city ranks first in the state in the rate of violent crimes but is headed in the right direction in many areas in dealing with the problems the city has with substance abuse, drugs, alcohol and high crime and poverty rates.
''It's a community issue and I think we're making headway in dealing with it,'' said Adams, who said innovative policing with Problem Oriented Policing Teams which focus on using a proactive rather than a reactive approach has helped bring a focus to police activities.
Ward 2 Councilor David Bownes said that a lack of treatment and prevention programs hurt such efforts. ''It's not always a law enforcement only issue,'' said Bownes, who said that it is huge problem nationwide and that a policy of just locking people up has been a huge failure nationally.
Ward 3 Councilor Henry Lipman said he would like to see a more comprehensive plan which involved the use of technology and cooperation with other agencies which would make Laconia ''the least attractive place in the state for drugs.''
Adams said that 90 percent of the city's crime can be traced to substance abuse and that in turn is linked to poverty, which is higher in Laconia than the state as a whole.
He said that the city has had several surveillance cameras stolen off from poles in recent months but thinks more of them could be used to deter and detect crimes,
Fire Chief Erickson said that he has a problem with absentee landlords which hamper his building inspection efforts and said that inspections could play a role in dealing with substance abuse. He said he would like to see the city require out-of-town landlords to have a designated local representative so that he could schedule inspections and councilors asked City Manager Scott Myers to research state law to see if such a local ordinance can be drafted.
Erickson said his department has put the four firefighters who were hired last year with a federal SAFRER grant to good use and that they have enabled his department to have seven firefighters and two officers staff each platoon, six at Central Station and three at the Weirs Station, enabling more effective emergency responses and reducing the number of vehicles which respond to emergencies.
''Seventy percent of all responses are single-unit responses,'' said Erickson, who said that two-unit responses have been reduced from 54 percent in 2000 to 18 percent last year.
Councilor Hamel said he would like an explanation of the $727,000 in covered overtime for the 2013 calendar year, which he said council members had expected would be lower with the addition of four additional firefighters.
Erickson and Myers said the number listed for overtime included every dollar spent on Bike Week, paramedics who are funded by the hospital and a host of other items with Erickson doing a quick tally which showed a total of $456,000, some $184,000 of which was for the hospital.
Administrators said they would provide a complete listing of what constitutes the overtime line for council members.

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 April 2014 01:48

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