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ZBA to listen to residents reaction to proposed chicken ordinance on Sept. 16

LACONIA — The Zoning Board of Adjustment will hold a public hearing on a proposal to loosen the restrictions on the keeping of chickens in the city at its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, Sept. 16, at 7 p.m in the council chambers at City Hall.
Following the public hearing, the ZBA will make its recommendation to the City Council, which is vested with the ultimate authority to adopt and amend municipal ordinances.
Last month the Zoning Task Force recommended amending the zoning ordinance to permit the keeping of chickens in the residential single-family (RS), residential general (RG) and shorefront residential (SFR) districts. A "special exception" to the ordinance, granted by the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA), would be required.
The current ordinance restricts the keeping of livestock, including poultry, to four districts — the commercial resort (CR), airport industrial (AI) and rural residential I and II (RRI, RRII) districts, effectively excluding chickens from the most densely populated parts of the city.
While extending the keeping of chickens to three other districts, the task force suggests striking the airport industrial district from the list where it is permitted and requiring a special exception in the commercial resort district.
The task force's proposal closely mirrors the ordinance adopted by the Concord City Council. It would permit keeping not more than five hens — but no roosters, capons or guinea hens — for the sole use of the household in the specified districts by special exception. The breeding of chickens and sale of eggs would be prohibited. Nor could chickens be slaughtered on the premisses.
Chickens would be kept in coops placed in rear or side yards at least 10 feet from the primary residence and 20 feet from any lot line. Chickens would not be allowed to roam free. Not more than three cubic feet of droppings, stored in a closed container, could be kept at one time. Chicken coops could not be located and chicken manure could not be stored within the 50 feet of the Shoreland Protection Overlay District, which includes all land within 250 feet of the high water mark of public waters, or within any wetland or wetland buffer.
Suzanne Perley, who chairs the task force, explained that requiring a special exception to keep chickens would effectively create a register. Applicants must pay a $125 fee and demonstrate to the ZBA that the use meets eight criteria, including that keeping chickens will not impair the interests or character of the neighborhood. Perley said that the process will ensure that the city has a record of those with chickens and their whereabouts.
Chickens first drew the attention of the Planning Department in October 2005 when Karianne Shelley, then an aspiring veterinarian at age 15, requested a variance to keep two hens at her home on Old North Main Street in order to complete a 4-H project. The ZBA denied the variance, but when Shelley appealed voted three-to-two to grant the variance until she graduated from high school in two years time. Five years later Charles Drake applied for a variance to keep between four and six laying hens at his home on Bay Street. The ZBA denied his request and refused to reconsider its decision.

Last Updated on Friday, 06 September 2013 03:28

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Winnisquam Middle School opens with 7th & 8th graders sharing space with 6th

TILTON — Winnisquam Regional School District's middle school children returned to school yesterday — a week late but safely ensconced in the seventh and eighth grade wings.

Superintendent Tammy Davis said that recent air quality tests for the seventh grade wing were in the normal range, meaning the school could use two of three wings — enough space to temporarily house all three grades.

"We had an open house (Wednesday) for the sixth-grade parents and there were no concerns," Davis said yesterday. She also said the first day of school went smoothly and the students were excited to be back in school.

In mid-August, a routine air quality sample revealed that mold spores were well above acceptable levels in the sixth-grade wing of the middle school.

Levels in the seventh-grade wing were also elevated, prompting the Winnisquam School Board to delay the opening of the entire middle school for one week while air remediation experts could assess the danger levels and fix them. The eighth grade wing — built as an addition to the school in 2000 — had acceptable levels of mold spores and didn't need remediation.

In an e-mail sent to all parents on August 29, Davis said the mold removal in the seventh-grade wing was successful and there would be enough room to house all three grades temporarily. Parents were notified individually about classroom assignments and schedules.

Davis also said middle school students will make up three of the five missed days by having classes on days previously scheduled as professional development days for teachers. On those — Friday October 11, Friday November 8, and Friday January 24 — the school buses will operate for middle school students on a normal daily schedule.

She said the principal will be working with the teachers to develop a plan for them to make up the professional time lost to the school delay.

As of last week, the school district had spent about $100,000 on the mold remediation. School Board members were told to expect as much as $120,000 in costs for the remediation.

Experts attributed much of the excess mold growth this year to an unusually wet, rainy, and humid spring and summer coupled with high ground-water levels that inhibit the floors from drying completely. The dampness is especially acute in the sixth-grade wing.

Mold remediation specialist Dennis Francouer said using the air circulating system during the summer months may reduce further mold buildup in the future. Traditionally, the system is shut down in the summer to save on electricity.

Davis said the entire school building will be monitored throughout the month of October and parents will be updated about the results of the tests and the work continues in the sixth grade wing. She was hopeful it could be ready in about 2-to-4 weeks.

Francouer said last week that during the winter months relatively humidity and air temperatures drop significantly, killing the mold.

Last Updated on Friday, 06 September 2013 03:23

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Tilton Selectboard chair estimates compliance at 75% after first round of pay-as-you throw trash collection

TILTON — Pat Consentino, who chairs the Board of Selectmen, said yesterday that despite some problems she estimated that approximately three-quarters of residents complied with the Pay-As-You-Throw trash pick-up program when it was introduced this week. "That's just a guess," she emphasized.

Consentino said that "I drove around town on Tuesday, the first day, and again today (Thursday) and saw that most people were using the purple bags for their trash."

Consentino said that although there were sufficient bags at Town Hall, several retail outlets, including Hannaford and Walgreen's, ran out of stock during the week. She said that the most common problem was that while people were separating their recyclables from their trash, some were not using the purple bags for their trash. The hauler, Bestway, placed notices advising residents they were not in compliance on the bags, she said, but later in the day collected the trash bearing the notices so who had not returned home did not received them.

"There appeared to be more issues in west Tilton (Tuesday), especially at multi-family buildings," Consentino said, suggesting that landlords may not have informed their tenants of the program.

Last Updated on Friday, 06 September 2013 03:06

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Police stakeout in Belmont village leads to bust of alleged heroin dealer

BELMONT — A Brooklyn, New York woman who says she just moved to Claremont three weeks ago is being held on $20,000 cash bail after police found 15.9 grams of heroin in packages in a car in which she was a passenger.

Heather Cleveland, 26, whose address is listed as Brooklyn but is now of East Street in Claremont, is charged with one count of possession of heroin with intent to distribute, one count of endangering the welfare of a child, and one count of falsifying evidence for allegedly trying to hide the heroin after being stopped by police.

After finding probable cause for Cleveland's arrest, Judge Jim Carroll of the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division told Cleveland her alleged activities "severely endangers our community" and "puts us all at risk."

Cleveland wept openly as Carroll set bail at $20,000 cash-only — $10,000 more than the Belmont prosecutor asked for and 100 times the $200 cash requested by her public defender. He also ordered a hearing for the source of funds should she come up with the money.

According to affidavits obtained from court, police were investigating reported drug activity on Main Street Wednesday night and saw a car idling in front of 125 Main Street at 10:49 p.m. without its lights on. Police saw a female (later identified as Cleveland) leave the building and get into the passenger side of car.

Police said the car headed down Main Street but the female driver only had running lights turned on and officers stopped the driver for the traffic violation.

While Officer Joel Pickowicz went to the passenger side window and spoke to the driver, Officer Ryan Nolan stood near the rear of the car on the driver's side. Nolan said he had a clear view of the inside of the car and noticed a young child sitting on the rear passenger seat.

When Pickowicz went back to his cruiser to check the driver's information, Nolan said he saw Cleveland verify that Pickowicz was back in his cruiser and make a "furtive movement" toward the back seat of the car and remove a white pill bottle with a dark label from under a jacket. He said she "discretely" put the bottle in the center console.

Nolan told both women to get out the car and separated them. He first asked the driver and owner of the car about the pill bottle and she allegedly told him she didn't know anything about it. She told Nolan that she was under the impression that Cleveland had gone into the Main Street apartment house to buy a cell phone. She gave Nolan written consent to search her car.

During Nolan's search he allegedly found a white pill bottle with a child-proof cap and dark writing that was a drug-store brand of 100-count tension-headache pain relievers.

When he opened the bottle he found 53 paper packets or bindles with blue lettering that read "Fever". The contents later tested positive for heroin. The bottle also contained rice — a commonly used moisture absorbent.

Police also said the bottle was initially under a jacket within "arm's reach" of Cleveland's 2-year-old son, triggering the charge of endangering the child's welfare.

At press time Cleveland remains in the Belknap County Jail. Should she post bail, Carroll ordered her to live with her brother in Claremont and sign a waiver of extradition.

Last Updated on Friday, 06 September 2013 02:53

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