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Gilford selectmen won't support Kimball Castle owner's bid to have terms of trust changed

GILFORD — Selectmen voted unanimously last night not to support the draft pleading that would ask the Belknap County Superior Court to change the terms of the trust that would, among other things, allow the owner to tear it down. There was no public discussion between board members and no reason for their action was given.

The cy pres motion, as recommended to selectmen by owner David Jodoin, would allow him to tear down the old castle, which has been condemned by the town building inspector, allow Jodoin or its future owners to restrict access to the remaining nature preserve to one road but leave the town and easement for emergency access only, and to allow not more than one residential home to be built on the 25-acre portion of the property sold by the town to Jodoin in 1999.

Selectmen also voted to extend the demolition or fencing order from the building inspector until April of 2014 because voters will decide at the March annual Town Meeting whether or not to support the Jodoin's request.

The board also agreed to temporarily discontinue the public easement on the Class 6 road portion of the property and to discontinue parking until a fence is installed or the castle is demolished. This is for public safety reasons. They also voted to allow Jodoin to install a gate preventing access to the Class 6 portion of the road but to give a key to the DPW and public safety in case of emergency.

Selectmen voted unanimously against Jodoin's request for the town to pay for a portion of the road repairs caused, according to Jodoin, by allowing public access to the property from that road.

Jodoin has contended the conditions of the deed restrictions of the charitable trust cannot be met because Kimball Castle Properties, LLC was never able to raise the capital needed to restore the historic structure to a restaurant and lounge.

The structure, overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee, has deteriorated significantly because of weather and vandalism, and the town ordered Jodoin to tear it down or install a fence surrounding it to reasonably prevent access.

The first cy pres change to the original deed restrictions was made in 1999 when the court allowed the property to be sold to a private party, Historic Inns of New England, LP. The owner of Kimball Castle Properties, LLC is one of the original owners of the limited partnership.
The first change provided the money from the sale be used to maintain most of the property for wildlife observation and recreation trails. As it stands now, the town of Gilford still holds $90,000 of the original $116,000 mortgage. The payments, which are current, provide funding for the Kimball Wildlife Committee to preserve the balance of the property for wildlife observation and recreation trails.

Last Updated on Saturday, 01 February 2014 12:22

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Laconia convenience story robbed

LACONIA — A thin man wearing a black scarf over his face threatened the clerk at the Cumberland Farms convenience store on Court Street with a knife and a hammer and then made off with an undisclosed amount of cash shortly after midnight Tuesday.

Responding police were assisted by the Gilford K-9 unit but, after last being seen on Clay Street, the suspect was not immediately apprehended.

The robber was described as a white male close to 6-feet tall. He was wearing a dark "hoodie" and black jeans.

Police ask that anyone with information about the robbery call 524-5252 or leave an anonymous tip on the Crime Line at 524-1717.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 September 2013 03:36

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Successor to Kings Grant Inn told it can't have adult entertainment permit

GILFORD — Selectmen last night voted to grant the Lakes Region Cafe & Tavern — the former King's Grant Inn — a live entertainment permit but not a so-called adult entertainment permit. Owner Will Drew, his business partner Tom Lyons, and his lawyer David Bownes had asked for both.

In a new twist to an old story, the latest town objection to nearly-naked dancers comes from the planning director, who noted in a memorandum addressed to Drew on September 23 that exotic entertainment was included in his last permit however it was a "non-conforming use pursuant to the provisions ... of the Gilford Zoning Ordinance."

Town Planner John Ayer wrote that a non-conforming use allowed to lapse for one year or more or that is superseded by a conforming use, may not be resumed. Translated, it means that if Drew and Lyons wants to have any adult entertainment on the premises, which included wet T-shirt contests, hot legs contests, and the like, he must go to the Gilford Zoning Board of Adjustments and appeal Ayer's decision. Selectmen had already "carved out" the exotic dancing portion of the approval.

According to materials distributed at last night's meeting, Fire Chief Steve Carrier has approved all of Drew's and Lyon's required place-of-assembly permits. There was no written or verbal communication offered last night from Acting Police Chief James Leach.

Drew was represented by Bownes at last night's meeting, who agreed to the conditions offered by selectmen, telling them he expected the liquor commission to issue the permit within a few weeks at the longest. He also assured the selectmen he would be taking the zoning restriction to the ZBA.

Selectmen also met Lyons, Drew's new partner, for the first time last night. He told them he lives in Hampton, is a commercial fisherman, and owns and operates a vending machine and video game company. Among his local clients, he said, is the Winnipesaukee Pier.

Lyons told selectmen he would be at the cafe six days a week and that he didn't expect to have live entertainment on Sundays but would likely have a sports night. Drew, who lives on the property in a separate home, said he too would be an active manager in the business. In its Mardi Gras North days, Drew leased the business to a company and played little to no day-to-day role in its management.

He also said the business would be run differently than the Mardi Gras North night club — a business that ended up the target of a N.H. Drug Task Force raid in October of 2011 that resulted in seven arrests, five of whom were strippers who worked or had worked at the club.

Four of the strippers were convicted or pleaded guilty to a variety of drug charges in Belknap County Superior Court and served or are serving sentences. At press time the outcome of one of the dancers and the two male patrons who were also arrested is unknown.

"It will be clean," Lyons said. "No Hell's Angels."

Lyons was likely referring to a rumor that spread through Gilford after the drug raid that identified the establishment as a popular spot for members of the motorcycle club. The truth or falsity of that rumor has never before been discussed in public and there is nothing unlawful about members of any motorcycle club patronizing any business.

He also assured selectmen that he runs a "tight ship" or people will be fired.

He also said he wasn't a fan of "the juke box crowd" but preferred live bands that draw a different kind of crowd.

Lyons told selectmen he and Drew deliberately chose to open the business in the fall so they could iron out the kinks before the busy summer season arrives that is traditionally kicked off by the annual Motorcycle Week in June.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 September 2013 02:38

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Coal tar removal will take 2 years & require 12 to 16 truckloads a day

GILFORD — Work to remove tons of toxic coal tar contaminated soil from lower Liberty Hill could begin as early as next March in a massive $13 million cleanup project which will take two years to complete, according to plans presented at an informational meeting at Gilford Town Hall last night.
Officials of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) and GEI Consultants, Inc., representing Liberty Utilities, presented the plan to about 40 people, many of them residents of the Liberty Hill area.

The tar was dumped into pits on lower Liberty Hill and then covered over in the 1950s, after a fire at a gas plant along the Winnipesuakee River in Laconia. The substance was a biproduct of the gasification process.

The presence of the deposits was not made known to the public until about 10 years ago and came as the result of testimony offered in a private-party lawsuit.
Michael McCluskey, an engineer with the state Department of Environmental Services' Waste Management Division, said that the conceptual plan for cleaning up Liberty Hill was approved last year and that the design plan for the project is still being finalized by GEI and will be presented to the DES next month.
John Ash, vice president of GEI Consultants Inc., said that the plan which will be presented for approval calls for 93,000 cubic yards of soil to be excavated, with between 39,000 and 44,000 cubic yards removed from the site for treatment.
Another 54,000 cubic yards will be stored on site and reused in the backfill operation.
In all some 66,000 tons of material will be removed by large dump trucks over a two-year period.
Ash said that he anticipates that 12 to 16 trucks a day will be hauling contaminated material from the site, but that work will be suspended during the winter of 2014-15.
Truck traffic will be tightly controlled according to Ash, who said that the plan calls for four trucks at a time to enter the site, where none will leave until they are all filled, and there will be flaggers directing traffic at the junction of Liberty Hill Road and Country Club Drive.
He said that work will be done in two phases, with the South phase being completed in the first year and the North phase in the second year. The first phase will see the work area completely backfilled and covered before the second phase starts.
The area to be excavated includes four house lots — 69, 77, 83 and 87 Liberty Hill Road— with the densest concentrations of coal tar on numbers 77 and 83.
The plan calls for excavating an area shaped like a figure-eight stretching more than 500 feet parallel to Liberty Hill Road and extending to more than 200 feet at its widest point above the waist at 83 Liberty Hill Road. It will be enclosed by 1,748 feet — the length of nearly six football fields — of six-foot high fencing which will be screened with fabric to make excavation work less visible.
A number of site controls will be in place, including an air monitoring system which will check for volatile compounds, dust and odors.
Ash said that since coal tar contains naphthalene, an ingredient used in mothballs, there may be a smell similar to mothballs at times but that the level at which it would be considered harmful is many times higher than the level at which it is detected by human smell.
There will also be vibration monitoring and noise monitoring, as well as a system for de-watering and treatment of excavated materials.
''That water will be run through de-watering and treatment and the water will be tested before any of it is discharged,'' said Ash.
The projected schedule for the project includes demolishing of structures in October, presentation of the final design plan in October, selection of a contractor in January, another public meeting in Gilford in February and the start of construction in March.
Kathy Lacroix, a Liberty Hill resident, asked if the de-watering operation on site would lower the natural water table of the area and Ash said it wouldn't.
She also questioned whether any of the work would be done on weekends and was told that Saturday was a potential work day and that any hauling would be dependent on the pace of the project and meeting deadlines for completion of each phase.
Selectman Kevin Hayes asked if the contractor would be asked to repair any of the road damaged by 6,000 loads of material being moved over it and officials from Liberty Utilities said that at the end of the project damaged parts of the road would be repaired or resurfaced.
Residents of the area were advised that Liberty Utilities would have a process in place to document the condition of their homes, including cellar walls and chimneys, prior to the start of construction, which would be useful in the event of any construction-related damage claims.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 September 2013 03:04

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