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City will lease 2 downtown parking spaces to new restaurant assite for required dumpsters

LACONIA — The City Council this week agreed to lease two downtown municipal parking spaces to David Kennedy to house two dumpsters, one for trash and another for recyclables. Kennedy intends to convert the former Evangelical Baptist Church at Veteran's Square to a restaurant with an Irish pub theme.

In a memorandum to the councilors, City Manager Scott Myers explained that the church building hugs the lot lines so closely that there is no space on the property to accommodate one, let alone two, dumpsters. After failing to negotiate an arrangement with David Gilbert, doing business as Reneda Properties, LLC who owns an abutting property at 660 Main Street, Kennedy deferred closing on his purchase of the church from December 20 to January 10 and asked to lease the two parking spaces.

Myers recommended leasing the spaces, an area of 20 feet by 10 feet at the rear of the church hall of the Congregational Church of Laconia, UCC, for five years at $100 per year with a provision to renew so long as the building remains a restaurant. In accordance with the zoning ordinance, the dumpsters must be fenced at the cost of the lessee, who must also carry insurance and pay taxes on the leased space.

Looking at a photograph of the location, Councilor Bob Hamel (Ward 5) noticed an dumpster on the adjacent Gilbert lot and wondered if space could be found to fence all three dumpsters together, saving one city parking space in the process. Myers said he would raise the issue with Gilbert.

No one questioned why, despite the zoning ordinance, the existing dumpster was not already fenced.

Chris Snow of the Planning Department confirmed Wednesday that dumpsters must be fenced and said that when a nonconforming situation comes to the attention of the department, property owners are advised of the violation by letter and asked to correct it.

Last Updated on Friday, 27 December 2013 11:55

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Plow driver allegedly drunk when he backed into LPD cruiser

LACONIA — A Gilford man has been charged with driving while intoxication after the plow truck he was operating allegedly backed into a Laconia police supervisor's cruiser — a 2014 Ford Interceptor SUV.

Gilford Police — who are investigating the crash — said Sgt. Dennis Ashley was patrolling on Lake Street (Rte. 3 North) when Douglas Fisher, 53, of Lake Street backed his 2004 Chevy pickup into the road from the Margate parking lot on the Gilford side of the roadway. Fisher is also charged with one count of operating after suspension.

The crash happened on December 15 at 2:48 p.m.

Gilford Police Sgt. Eric Bredbury said Ashley tried to take evasive action by moving into the oncoming lane but his cruiser was struck in the passenger side rear door and rear quarter panel. Ashley was not seriously injured and was not transported to the hospital. Fisher was not injured.

Bredbury said the truck Fisher was driving is registered to Plymeg Hotel Management.

According to information obtained from the N.H. Judiciary call center, Fisher was found guilty on July 23, 2012 of driving while intoxicated in May of 2012.

He was fined $620 and his license was suspended for nine months. He was ordered to complete a Impaired Driver Education Program.

Bredbury said Fisher entered a not-guilty plea on December 19 in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division and has a trial date scheduled for February 4.

Laconia Police Lt. A Lessard said the cruiser is being repaired by Irwin Motors and he is unsure when the repairs will be completed. "Right now it's in the hands of the insurance companies," he said.

Lessard said the department has put it's Ford Explorer back into service until the SUV is repaired. He also said the department is thankful that Ashley wasn't injured.


CAPTION: The passenger side of a 2014 Laconia Police SUV after an allegedly impaired plow truck driver backed into it while plowing on December 15. (Gilford Police photo)

Last Updated on Friday, 27 December 2013 11:51

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Briarcrest Estates owners had signaled retreat but judge's ruling my change that

LACONIA — The tussle over the future ownership of Briarcrest Estates may take a fresh turn with the decision of Justice James D. O'Neill, III of Belknap County Superior Court not to dismiss the petition of Mark and Ruth Mooney, owners of the manufactured housing park, asking the court to approve its sale to Hometown America Corporation. The Mooneys had recently signaled a willingness to instead negotiate a sale to a group of tenants in order to avoid a lengthy and costly legal battle but O'Neill's ruling in their favor may motivate them to rethink the matter.
In July the Mooneys accepted a $10-million offer from Hometown America. State law requires park owners, upon receiving an offer, to "consider any offer received from the tenants or a tenants' association" and to "negotiate in good faith with the tenants concerning a potential purchase." Failure to comply carries a liability to the tenants of $10,000 or 10 percent of the purchase price, whichever is greater.
When tenants representing a minority of the 241 units formed the Lakemont Cooperative and presented a matching offer, the Mooneys went to court, where they were supported by a majority of tenants who prefer commercial to cooperative ownership.
Jim Cowan, president of the Lakemont Cooperative, which contested the petition, said yesterday that "we're not remotely surprised" by O'Neill's ruling. He said that recently the Mooneys wrote to all tenants of the park indicating that they intended to withdraw their "court action" rather than become mired in prolonged and expensive litigation as well as to open negotiations with the Lakemont Cooperative.
Cowan said that he anticipated the Mooneys will sign the purchase and sales agreement submitted by the cooperative, which he noted has been amended to exactly match the competing offer, then provide the financial information the cooperative requires to pursue its due diligence and arrange the financing to purchase the park.
However, the Mooneys have yet to withdraw their petition and O'Neill's decision may cast the situation in a new light. In support of the Mooney's petition, attorney Paul Fitzgerald, argued that the term "tenants" and "tenants association," which are nowhere defined, are ambiguous, but can only reasonably taken to refer to a majority of the tenants. Consequently, he concluded that the Mooneys "owe conflicting duties of good faith" to both the cooperative and the majority and could face a liability of $1 million for failing to bargain in good faith with either.
Meanwhile, attorney Philip McLaughlin, representing the majority of tenants claimed that while the statute fails to anticipate that a majority of tenants will prefer commercial to cooperative ownership it neither prohibits them from intervening in the litigation nor from intervening in the present action" or bars the Mooneys from weighing their interests when fulfilling their duty to bargain in good faith. He asked the court to conclude that the Mooneys "may, as they discharge their statutory duty to bargain in good faith, take into account, that good faith extends to consideration beyond the will of the minority (whether in an association or not) and should consider the will and the reasons for the opposition of the majority."
In declining to dismiss the Mooney's petition O'Neill held that the court need not find the statute ambiguous. Instead, he ruled that the essence of the Mooney's claim is that by choosing to sell to Hometown America because a majority of the tenants do not want the park to be owned by a cooperative they have met the requirement to negotiate in good faith. "Thus," he concluded, "the crux of this matter is what constitutes 'negotiate in good faith,' not what constitutes tenants or tenants association."
While the statute implies that the duty to negotiate in good faith is owed solely to the cooperative, O'Neill's ruling leaves open the prospects that if the cooperative represents a minority of tenants, the same duty may be owed to the majority and that park owners may be spared liability for fulfilling it.
Should the decision lead to the Mooneys to pursue the litigation, the case will be tried on March 22.
Whatever the outcome for the tenants of Briarcrest Estates, the issues raised by the case will likely prompt reconsideration of the statute governing the sale of manufactured housing parks.

Last Updated on Saturday, 28 December 2013 12:06

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Website lists expected Belknap County job opportunities over next 5 years, including education & training necessary to qualify & pay rates to expect

LACONIA — To further its goals of retaining young talent in the region while fostering the workforce employers require, the Belknap Economic Development Council (BEDC) recently surveyed 20 local firms about the jobs they expect to fill during the next five years and summarized these career opportunities in industry profiles on its website.

Initially BEDC compiled information about employment in advanced manufacturing, finance and insurance, health care and social assistance and hospitality, all industries with potential for growth in the coming years. The profiles indicate the entry and mid level jobs that will be available, together with the qualifications, responsibilities and compensation for each. Along with a sketch of each industry, its average earnings, number of jobs and projected growth, the profiles include a sample of local companies in the four industries.

For instance, 85 firms in Belknap County employ a total of more than 2,300 people at annual average earnings of $61,200 in advanced manufacturing, which applies high technology to expensive raw materials to produce components for the aerospace, medial, semi-conductor, automotive and electronics industries. This sector expects to add more than 100 a year. Entry level positions include machine operators, requiring a high school diploma and "willingness to learn" while paying $13.15 an hour, and machinists and assemblers with between three months and a year of experience paying from $12 to $16.68 an hour.

Salaries for entry level positions in financial services, which require interpersonal, communications and computer skills along with attention to detail, range between $20,000 and $28,500 while earnings in health care start at $11 an hour for a high school graduate with some work experience and reach $28,000 for a college graduate. In the hospitality industry, the largest employers in the region with the lowest average earnings of $22,100, entry level jobs pay between $10 and $14 an hour, with mechanics and cooks with some experience earning the most.

The profiles, which are posted on the BEDC website, are intended to offer young people contemplating a career and preparing to enter the workforce information about the opportunities open to them in the Lakes Region. The unemployment rate in the Laconia labor market in October was 5.3-percent, slightly higher than that of the state and the county, but the information gathered by the BEDC indicates that regional employers will have entry level positions for qualified people eager to work.

Last Updated on Friday, 27 December 2013 01:02

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