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Franklin landlords admits to arson - 206

FRANKLIN — The owner of an apartment building at 4 Pleasant Street has admitted he set the October 5, 2012 fire and has been sentenced to a year in the Merrimack County Jail. Peter Welch, 46, pleaded guilty to one felony count of arson and one felony count of reckless conduct, according to a statement released on Thursday by Fire Chief Kevin LaChapelle, Police Chief David Goldstein and State Fire Marshal J. William Degnan.

Welch was also sentenced to a two to five year tern in the State Prison, but that sentence was suspended as part of a plea bargain process. Open his release from the county jail he will be on probation for three years. He was also ordered to pay $5,613.96 in restitution.

"Our department and community are grateful for the immense teamwork that was exercised throughout this entire case," commented Chief LaChapelle. "Mr. Welch's actions placed many lives in danger by setting fire to this multi-unit apartment building that is located in a densely populated neighborhood in downtown Franklin."

None of the buildings tenants were home at the 5:30 p.m. time of the fire. Ten animals (five dogs, three cats, rabbit and a parakeet) were rescued. The one-alarm blaze was brought under control by firefighters in about a half hour.


Last Updated on Friday, 25 July 2014 01:12

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Belmont taking money from capital reserve fund to finish pavilion & bridge projects

BELMONT — Selectmen voted Monday night to take between $10,000 and $15,000 from the facilities capital reserve fund to give the town enough money to complete the pavilion and the footbridge over the Tioga River that are part of the village revitalization project.

Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin said the total grant from the Land and Water Conservation fund is slightly over $99,000 for both both projects and $25,000 of that is earmarked for the footbridge acquired from the City of Dover.

The pavilion will be a covered area, 26-feet by 80-feet and built on a 4-inch cement slab, next to the Belmont Mill. It will used for outdoor functions, concerts and community event. It will be open sided with shingles on each end of the roof portion.

The pavilion will have two bathrooms plus an enclosed storage area and was included in the Village Revitalization Plan. An additional grant for $30,000 was procured for the completion of the river walk along the Tioga.

The money from the capital reserve fund will be used to complete the plumbing and some of the finish work.

Beaudin said the pavilion  is a very simple, carriage-house design and the the construction group of NCM of Gilford has been hired as construction manager. One of the company's partners is George Moretti of Belmont and she said he has been instrumental in the design of the pavilion.

Construction is scheduled to begin the week of July 28 and should be finished by mid October.


Last Updated on Friday, 25 July 2014 01:08

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Gilford's attorney says solar panel farm not 'accessory use' in residential area; applicant granted time to study opinion

GILFORD — After getting an opinion from the town attorney that Will Drew's request for a solar panel farm on a residential lot at 16 Kimball Road doesn't meet the definition of an "accessory use" under the town's zoning ordinance, the Planning Board decided to table his request to give his attorney time to study the opinion.

Drew wants to build 370 raised solar panel racks that will hold 1, 480 3-foot by 4-foot solarvoltaic panels on a 1.4-acre portion of his property in the field adjacent to the intersection of Rte. 11-B (Weirs Road) and Rte. 11-C (Lily Pond Road).

The panels will generate enough electricity to power eight of the homes he has on the property and his plan is to sell the balance into the Public Service of New Hampshire grid. The application has been before the board since February 27 and has been through at least two public hearings.

Last week, Drew was represented by attorney Phil Brouillard, who expressed his clients frustration by telling the members that "we will not stand for making it up or flying by the seat of your pants."

Brouillard said there is no ordinance in Gilford that covers solar panels but he and Drew believe it is a worthwhile project and want the Planning Board and Planning Department to assist them in making it a reality.

He said there's no smoke, no colors, "just electricity that goes back into the grid," and that he didn't want to hear a lot of unnecessary stuff that's not in the ordinance."

That there is nothing in the ordinances is what troubles Town Planner John Ayer and the town attorney, who said the proposal "does not constitute a reasonable use of the site for the purposes permitted" according to the contents of RSA 362-A:1.

The draft proposal presented to the board by the attorney said Drew's proposal for energy production of more that 22 times the amount he would use on the property is not a "subordinate use" but would be a "principal use" of the property.

In previous meetings, many Planning Board members have said the amount of electricity being generated borders on a commercial use as opposed to an ancillary use for a residential area.

Abutters were primarily concerned with screening the solar field from view and the general appearance of the field once the solar stands and panels are installed.

One man wanted to know if it was even possible to mow the grass once the stands had been installed. Another said he was concerned about glare and run off but Drew said the panels would be angled away from Route 11-B.

Although the board voted to table the site plan proposal, the suggestion from the attorney was to have the Planning Board deny the request and have Drew appeal the decision to the Zoning Board of Adjustment, asking for a variance.

Last Updated on Friday, 25 July 2014 01:02

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Biker bar owner tells city officials Motorcycle Week in decline

LACONIA — "This is the oldest motorcycle rally," said Bill Niland, who owns and operates a biker bar in Seabrook, "and it's the first one I've seen declining."

Niland was speaking to a meeting hosted by officials at City Hall yesterday to solicit comments from property owners, traveling vendors and the general public on the 91st running of Motorcycle Week. For the second year, Niland operated a beer tent with live music at the Weirs Beach Drive-In, noting that he invested $100,000 in the enterprise, but lost $20,000, half as much as he lost the year before. He said that many of the regular patrons of his bar in Seabrook, who have come to Laconia for years, did not spend a day at the rally this year.

With a measure of sarcasm, Niland referred to a report in "The Citizen" newspaper that this year's rally drew a record crowd, prompting Planning Director Shanna Saunders to quip, "I think we have a record maker every year."

"There's nothing really going on up here," Niland continued, adding that he hoped to find side mirrors for his motorcycle, but could not find a single vendor offering them amid the T-shirts and sunglasses. He said there were only two entertainment venues at The Weirs, his own and the Laconia Roadhouse at the Weirs Beach Lobster Pound. "There is no attraction," he said.

Niland acknowledged that he did not know how to reverse the trend, he suggested the organizers of the rally consider a partnership with the Freedom Ride, sponsored by the Northeast POW/MIA Network, which he thought might enhance the rally. Otherwise, he said flatly "I see it declining, declining fast."

By the time Niland spoke, Charlie St. Clair, executive director of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association, had left the meeting. "Charlie knows what I think," Niland remarked with a smile. However, City Manager Scott Myers asked Niland if the two could speak together about the issues he raised. "Anytime, Niland replied. "Anytime."

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 July 2014 12:57

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