Can tiny Laconia street stand up to construction site truck traffic?

LACONIA — The City Council this week shelved a temporary traffic order that would have lifted the prohibition against truck traffic on the southern stretch of River Street between Jewett Street and Arch Street to facilitate construction of River's Edge, the 32-unit apartment building under construction across the Winnipesaukee River from City Hall.

River Street runs southward along the east bank of the Winnipesaukee River from Church Street to Arch Street. It is open to truck traffic between Church Street and Jewett Street, but signs at the intersections with Jewett Street and Arch Street signal that trucks are prohibited on the last leg of the street — about 90 yards — from Jewett Street to Arch Street.

Paul Moynihan, director of Public Works, said he can find no record either in the department or at City Hall indicating when or why the prohibition was introduced. The last section of the street is 16 feet wide and the river flows approximately 20 feet from the edge of the pavement.

The council responded to concerns expressed by Kerren Horn, whose home and business — RDH Electric, LLC — at 36 River Street is the only property that fronts on the street.

"The trucks are way too heavy to be on this street," she told the councilors, explaining that the truck traffic threatened to damage the pavement and hasten erosion of the riverbank. Furthermore, she feared that the vibration caused by the trucks, which is felt in her house, would also damage the residence, which was built in the 1850s. Horn said that she raised the issue with city officials about a month ago, when trucks began using the street despite the prohibition.

"I'm pleased you came tonight," Councilor Bob Hamel (Ward 5) told Horn. He said that the street was not built on a firm roadbed and was not intended to carry heavy trucks. Expecting that the street would be severely damaged, he warned "once they're gone, we're going to pay for it."

As proposed the traffic order would would have become effective on Tuesday, July 14 and expired on June 30 next year. The signs prohibiting trucks would be removed and "trucking as needed" would be allowed Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. A speed limit of 10 miles-per-hour would be imposed on all "trucks, construction equipment, contractor vehicles and delivery vehicles." In addition, the order notes Northpoint Engineering, LLC and Eckman Construction would be responsible for monitoring the condition of the roadway and as well as for notifying vendors of the speed and time limitations on the street.

Horn said that truck traffic for 1- hours a day, five days a week was excessive in light of the condition of the road and said that conditions on the road should be monitored by the city and New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, not the contractor.

City Manager Scott Myers told the councilors that trucks accessing the construction site from Union Avenue preferred to follow Jewett Street to River Street which leads directly to the entrance to the site at the foot of Arch Street. He said that Arch Street also offers access from Union Avenue, but the intersection at Union, which is below a steep rise, provides a poor line of sight of oncoming traffic. He suggested the hours truck traffic would be allowed could be adjusted and the contractor could be asked to post a performance bond to meet the cost of repairing the road.

However, Hamel insisted "this is not a good street and i won't vote for this" and Councilor Henry Lipman (Ward 3) suggested Myers "take a couple of weeks to refine the order. Councilor David Bownes (Ward 2) moved to table the proposed traffic order "until we can answer the questions and address the issues."

Moyhihan visited the sight yesterday. He said that Arch Street was reclaimed and reconstructed and River Street repaved in 2006 and indicated both were in reasonably good condition. He noted that trucks reach the site from Arch Street are not able to make the right-angle turn in close quarters at the foot the street required to enter the construction site.. Although the driveway could be rebuilt and parking on Arch Street restricted, the sight line at the junction of Arch Street and Union Avenue would remain a challenge for trucks entering and leaving the site. On the other hand, he said that if River Street is open to trucks, they can drive straight into the site form Jewett Street.

Myers said that he is awaiting a report from Moynihan before framing a recommendation to amend the traffic order and return it to the council.

'Pecker' has moved to Center Harbor

LACONIA — A bantam rooster named ''Pecker'', who has been the subject of an ongoing dispute between Lakeport neighbors, is now living in Center Harbor.
Jeffrey Leroux of 5 North Street said yesterday that the rooster is now living on his father's 57-acre property and will remain in Center Harbor for the foreseeable future.
He made the comment as he and his wife, Bridgette, waited in Belknap County Superior Court for a hearing on a restraining order sought by his neighbors, Dan and Amanda Ouellette of 46 North Street, who last week obtained at temporary restraining order which bars the Lerouxs from communicating with the Oullettes or entering their property.
The order was granted by Judge James D. O'Neill III in Belknap County Superior Court last week on the basis of a complaint filed by the Ouellettes which alleges that the Leruoxs made threatening remarks to them at a June 15 meeting of the Laconia Zoning Board of Adjustment, at which the Lerouxs were denied a request for a rehearing on their request for a zoning variance they need to allow them to keep the rooster in their home as a pet.
According to the complaint, Jeffrey Leroux threatened property damage for allegedly saying to the Ouellettes, ''I guess that's the end of your garden this year,'' and Bridgette Leroux made a threat to harm the Ouellettes before she abruptly left the meeting room which was on the first floor of the Belknap Mill.
The complaint says that the Ouellettes have talked with Laconia Police about the threats made at the ZBA meeting and an incident two nights later in which they called 911 to report that the Lerouxs were being disruptive. The complaint states that the Laconia Police are investigating the incident and that charges are likely to be filed against the Lerouxs.
Laconia Police say they are investigating the incidents but that no charges have been filed.
At Wednesday afternoon's hearing in Superior Court, Dan Ouellette asked Judge O'Neill to extend the temporary restraining order for six months.
When Jeffrey Leroux testified he said that he had no knowledge of any forthcoming charges and objected to the no contact part of the order but not to the bar on entering the Oubliettes' property.
Bridgette Leroux declined an offer by Judge O'Neill to make a statement at the hearing and O'Neill said that he would take the matter under advisement and continued the restraining order until he has issued a ruling.
Leroux bought the rooster at Sandwich Fair last year as a pet for his wife. In December, the Planning Department, following a complaint from the Ouellettes, told the Lerouxs that the zoning ordinance prohibited the keeping of poultry in a residential district and advised them that they would either have to give up the rooster or apply for a variance.
Planning Director Shanna Saunders has said that the zoning ordinance defines "agriculture" as "the production, keeping or maintenance for sale, lease or personal use, of plants and animals," including poultry, and forbids agricultural uses of property in residential districts like North Street.
On May 18 the ZBA denied the Lerouxs' request for a variance by a 4-1 vote.
The Lerouxs were advised at the June 15 hearing by Steve Bogert, chairman of ZBA, that they have 30 days in which to appeal the board's ruling to Superior Court. The Lerouxs have said following the meeting that they planned to appeal but have not yet done so.

Admitting he divulged privileged into, Gilmanton selectman resigns

vivGILMANTON — Selectman Steve McCormack resigned last night after hearing from two members of the audience at a Selectboard meeting that they had lost their trust in him.

He told the small audience that he had felt badly since the June 30 meeting and has carefully reviewed the laws and the 138-page Attorney General's report on the state's Right-to-Know law.

"I'm not going to see this town destroyed," he said. "After this meeting, I will resign."

McCormack said he would continue to help the town anyway he could but that he would never seek another public office.

During the public comment section of the meeting, School Board member Adam Mini and resident Brenda Currier both said they felt McCormack violated the town's trust when he told at least two people about Police Chief Joe Collins's retirement in December.

"Revealing (the content) of sealed non-public minutes erodes the trust - especially with our employees," said Mini, calling McCormack's transgression "cavalier."

"I would vote for an investigation, a blood-letting, whatever," Mini said, adding that employees need to feel they can come to the selectmen and not have their confidences violated.

Currier echoed Mini's feelings saying that it's not the content that was released but the fact that he broke the oath he took when he became a selectman in 2014.

On June 30, McCormack admitted to telling Brett Currier and Wayne Ogni that Collins was retiring at the end of the year. Both mentioned it at the June 30 meeting after which selectmen unanimously agreed that the town should ask the State Attorney General Office for an independent review.

Town Administrator Arthur Capello said he heard from the AG's investigator yesterday that there was no criminal offense and the office would not likely investigate it.

Collins said in a letter to the editor printed in today's paper that he wasn't upset when his retirement was made public but was very upset when he learned that the news could have been used by a selectman to influence the process of hiring a new chief to further someone's agenda.

Sgt. Matt Currier has been named as the next chief in a unanimous decision by the board. In the interests of transparency, Brenda and Brett Currier are his parents.