Weirs housing plan revived


LACONIA — Racked by a financial scandal and the great recession, a major residential development at The Weirs, which was abandoned a decade ago, has been revived under new ownership.

Phoenix Capital LLC of Andover, Massachusetts, proposes to develop a 21.4-acre tract on Endicott Street East, where Vatche Manoukian, a Nashua developer, planned Shaker Hill Estates, a community of 126 townhouses. The project was approved by the Planning Board in 2006, the land was cleared, and about $1 million was invested in infrastructure. But, Manoukian ran afoul of Financial Resources Mortgage Inc., the Meredith firm that collapsed when its Ponzi scheme turned sour. When Manoukian declared personal bankruptcy in 2009, the real estate market was in the grip of recession and the project laid fallow until this spring.

Phoenix Capital will present two conceptual designs for what it calls Lakewood Village to the Planning Board next week. The project would be built on a flag-shaped lot fronting on Endicott Street East and abutting the Weirs Community Park to the west. The development would be served by the existing infrastructure, which includes storm drains and sewer lines. Both designs provide for 53 single-family homes and 17 duplexes along roadways looping through the property and around a large green space in the rectangular portion of the lot. The lots would range in size between 4,000 square feet and 10,000 square feet, and each dwelling unit would be about 2,200 square feet and projected to sell at between $250,000 and $300,000. The development would include a small park and playground as well as offer access to the Weirs Community Park.

Although the Planning Board approved the original project, that approval has expired. If its conceptual design passes muster, Phoenix Capital will be required to submit a site plan and proceed with the planning process once again.

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Townhomes and single-family homes at The Weirs will be built according to this plan if approved by the city. (Courtesy graphic)

Woman faces felony after allegedly stealing a soda


LACONIA — A city woman is facing a felony charge after allegedly throwing batteries at a Family Dollar store clerk and taking a soda Tuesday.

Affidavits from police said Melissa Melhorn, 25, who police say is transient, is being held on $500 cash-only bail after appearing in the Belknap County Superior Court for robbery.

Police said Melhorn was already banned from the store as a previous condition of bail. One of the employees saw her, knew she had been banned and told her to leave.

As the employee was following her, Melhorn allegedly grabbed some batteries off a display and threw them at the employee. Police said Melhorn walked to the front of the store and grabbed a bottle of soda and tried to walk out with it.

The employee followed and Melhorn allegedly threw the soda at her, so she backed away. Melhorn allegedly went back into the store, grabbed the soda and left.

Melhorn is also charged with one count of criminal trespass, breach of bail and simple assault.

Police said Wednesday that any theft where force is used is considered a robbery.

In court, Melhorn was represented by Public Defender Jesse Friedman, who waived the arraignment, agreed to the state's request for $500 cash bail, and waived a probable cause hearing, reserving his right to make an argument at a future date.

Friedman told the court that if he was to make an official argument as to probable cause, he said he did not believe the information in the affidavit could sustain a felony robbery charge as it pertains to the use of force.

Judge James O'Neill said there was no need for a preliminary probable cause finding.

Shaker superintendent hits ground running


BELMONT — It's been a three-day whirlwind for new Shaker Regional Shaker Superintendent Michael Tursi, who officially took over the helm on Friday.

From meeting all of the building principals, to getting to know the employees in the SAU office to learning what plans are already in place, he said he spent most of his time so far just learning who is who and where things are.

"I just introduce myself to everyone I see," he said, identifying that as his best way of learning about his new district.

"I like people," is what Tursi said at a meet-and-greet in the Belmont High School cafeteria this spring shortly after he was named interim superintendent.

He said he likes to be out and about in his school district and while people can rarely find him at his desk, he said he's never more than a phone call away.

Tursi also said that he wants to establish a working relationship with the town's individual boards of selectmen and their teams of administrators as well as community leaders.

"We are all part of the same team," he said. "These are the people in the district with knowledge and who are committed to making their towns and this school district work."

One of the things that excite him the most is student initiative, something he has heard is in abundance at the Shaker Regional School District.

Over the summer, Tursi said he is digesting local statistics, evaluating and getting to know Shaker's individual projects, and getting to meet other area superintendents and learn more about the Huot Technical Center.

"I am a big supporter of technical education," he said. "I'm excited to be here."

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Superintendent Michael Tursi poses next to the sign that welcomes people to the Shaker Regional School District Office. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)