Gilford warrant article would prohibit churches in residential zones

GILFORD – Thirty people, primarily from the Curtis Road and Cherry Valley section of town, have petitioned a zoning warrant article for the 2016 ballot that would prevent churches from locating in the town's four residential zones.

As it stands now, churches are not allowed by right in three of four residential zones, but are allowed by special exception in the limited residential zone where many on the signatories reside.

Led by Adrian and Susan Curtis of Curtis Road, the zoning request is likely a backlash against the Planning Board for allowing a change of use for the former Guild Farm at 14 Curtis Road to become a religious sanctuary operated by Barbara and Steve Arbo of Arbo Ministries.

The Arbos initially approached the Zoning Board of Adjustments for the special exception but changed course and appeared before the Planing Board instead for a change of use.

The Curtises, along with many of the neighbors, opposed the change, saying in public meetings that they fear additional traffic, noise, reduced parking and outdoor activities.

After a site plan visit, the Planning Board allowed the the change of use with some strict restrictions on the number of people, excluding family, who could stay there overnight, on outdoor activities, and on parking. They were also requested to re-establish the driveway directly onto Cherry Valley Road.

A yes vote on this petition means that the voter is against having churches in limited residential zones.

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Pub Mania sets sights on topping million-dollar mark

GILFORD — Pub Mania kicked off its seventh year Thursday morning with an opening ceremony at Patrick's Pub & Eatery, at which Allan Beetle, Patrick's co-owner, set a goal of raising at least $210,596 at this year's event.
Beetle said that raising that much this year will put Pub Mania over the million-dollar mark, as it has raised $797,000 for support the annual Children's Auction since it first was started.
"We started out in 2009 with 26 teams and a goal of raising $25,000 and ended up raising $47,000. Last yea,r we had 30 teams and raised $235,596," said Beetle, who pointed out that that Pub Mania was inspired by the Laconia Athletic & Swim Club's long-running "Cycle Mania" fundraiser.
He noted that even though the Athletic & Swim Club closed at least temporarily recently, its team is still taking part in this year's Pub Mania and that he and others are hopeful the club will reopen soon under the leadership of Tom and Laurie Oakley.
During Pub Mania, Patrick's reserves bar stools for teams that commit to filling the stool with a different team member each hour of the event. With 30 teams and 24 people per team, the event has 720 "Culinary Athletes" participating.
Judy Taggart, who heads up the Tagg Team, said she and her husband, Butch, have participated in all seven of the Pub Mania events and is looking forward to this year's event being the best ever.
"This is the party of the year, and everyone wants to be here,'' said Taggart.
Beetle thanked all of the team captains and offered a toast to their success, noting that 99.5 percent of the work of raising funds had already been accomplished at events the teams have held, ranging from golf tournaments and road races to cribbage tournaments and comedy shows.
"This is a celebration today," said Beetle.
Laconia Mayor Ed Engler praised the success of Pub Mania and its contribution towards the Children's Auction.

"We all know what the need is. But the sad thing is that the need keeps getting bigger," he said, urging people to take a look at the big picture. "What we need to do is make the need less by ramping up the level of overall economic activity in this area."
Mike Seymour, chairman of the board of trustees of the Greater Lakes Region Charitable Fund for Children, a nonprofit corporation which earlier this year took over ownership of the auction., noted that of the $2 million raised by the auction in the last five years, 40 percent has come from Pub Mania.
He said that Pub Mania T-shirts created and donated by Body Covers Screen Printing of Laconia will be a hot item this year and noted that, in addition to supplying the venue, Patrick's will also donate 20 percent of its gross sales for the day.
Pub Mania will end at 9 a.m. Friday. The auction is being telecast by Lakes Region Public Access Television on TV Channel 25 Metrocast. It is also being carried by Metrocast Channel 12 and broadcast live on FM stations 104.9 The Hawk and WZEI 101.5, the auction's new radio partners. It runs through Saturday Dec. 12; from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Last year, the auction raised $486,575 to be distributed to local not-for-profit agencies, the second highest total ever recorded.
In 2013, the event raised $510,801 with a major contribution of $90,000 coming from the Lakes Region Home Builders and Remodelers Association through a home the organization built to raise funds for the auction.

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Gunstock neighbors want zoning change

GILFORD – Fifty-two Gilford residents have petitioned for a zoning article that would change the zone designation of Gunstock Inn and Resort from limited residential to resort commercial.

Owners Leslie and Linda Schuster feel that if the inn were in a resort commercial zone it would be much more conducive to the hotel, restaurant and fitness center that has operated in the same spot for years.

"It has been a commercial business since long before we owned it," said Les Schuster, who added that he thinks one of the reasons his predecessor failed was because it was improperly zoned as limited residential.

He said recently he needed to get a commercial sign approval, but learned he had to go before the Zoning Board of Adjustments to get it. While he was approved, he said every commercial endeavor he tries to make must go before the ZBA simply because of how the property is zoned.

He said, for example, he mentioned outdoor weddings after learning that previous owners had been historically hosting them.

"If I was in a resort commercial zone, I wouldn't need to go to the ZBA for permission for every little thing," he said.

Schuster noted that there are two other commercial properties within a stones throw of the Gunstock Inn – namely Gunstock Mountain Resort and the former Alberg Inn property.

Because there are a few residential properties between the inn and the former Alberg property directly across from the Gunstock Mountain, Schuster said that if the ordinance passed on the 2016 town warrant, he would leave it to the land use boards to decide it that small area should also be changed from limited residential to resort commercial zoning.

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