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Belmont Selectmen want all boards videotaped and broadcast over LRPA

BELMONT — Selectmen will send an official letter to members of the other governing boards in town to better understand why their members are reluctant to be taped for Lakes Region Public Access.

They also suggested that next year's Town Warrant have an article asking voters if they want the the selectmen and the Budget Committee, Planning Board and Zoning Board as well as others to be aired on Lakes Region Public Access.

"If those boards don't want to be videotaped, maybe that could have some bearing on an election," said Selectman Jon Pike, a long-time advocate of taping all of the town's the meetings. He said the request for a vote would be one way to determine who doesn't want to be taped.

All of the boards in Belmont meet publicly except within the allowances made by RSA 91-A which is the Right-To-Know Law that sets out specific instances where a board can meet behind closed doors.

To the best of the Daily Sun's knowledge, no member of the media or the general public has ever been denied access to any of the Belmont's boards' meetings nor have any Belmont boards or committees ever stopped an individual from the public from taping them.

The issue is whether or not these boards can be compelled to used the video system installed at taxpayers expense after voters agreed at Town Meeting about 10 years ago that the town should spend money to install the system and broadcast their meetings on LRPA.

The problem for selectmen right now, is that there is no money in the budget for paying a stipend to someone to tape any meetings, including theirs. Depending on the availability of volunteers, the Board of Selectmen has been on-again, off-again with taping its meetings and sending them to LRPA. The town's other boards have not expressed any interest in being taped or broadcast over LRPA.

The topic most recently came up at a meeting in early February when the selectmen questioned continuing to pay dues to LRPA when their meetings aren't being taped.

Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin told them that not having the meetings on LRPA was the fault of the town, not LRPA. She explained that LRPA will air any tapes sent to them, but only if the town does the recording.

Last night she elaborated for selectmen by telling them she learned this month that LRPA will tape any meetings, but the charge is $50 per hour.

Selectmen Chair Ron Cormier has suggested adding a stipend to the town budget to tape all town meetings, but said he would like to see all of the town's boards videotaped – not just the selectmen.

In early February, he asked Beaudin to ask the Town Attorney if selectmen can order the other boards to tape any meetings that are held in the room with the town's taping system. Beaudin reported last night that the selectmen's job is to manage the affairs of the town as set out by law but they do not have the right to order other boards to tape their meetings.

She reported to them that they could place it before the voters at a future town meeting but that it wouldn't be binding.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 February 2014 01:39

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From Skate Escape to Sports Complex

MEREDITH — After losing their venue on Court Street in Laconia , the owners of Skate Escape, Erica Duncan and Janine Page, are seeking to develop an indoor sports complex on a 5.24 acre lot on Reservoir Road. The fate of the project may hinge on whether voters in March agree to amend the zoning ordinance to expand the permitted uses in the Business/Industry District.

The property is in the Business/Industry District, approximately 241 acres along Rte. 104 between Rte. 3 to the east and Pease Road and Winona Road to the west, which was established to reserve space for industrial growth by prohibiting most commercial uses while providing land for large office buildings. Nevetheless, the district has become home to the a chiropractic office, martial arts studio, fitness center, visiting nurse association, child care facility and kindergarten day nursery as well as the Winnipesaukee Playhouse, all far from the industrial uses originally envisioned.
The sports complex would include a roller-skating rink and full-size turf field, both under one roof.
In November the Zoning Board of Adjustment found that a commercial recreational facility was not a permitted use in the his district and refused to grant a variance for the project. Instead, Jack Dever, chairman of the ZBA, told Duncan and Page that the Planning Board was contemplating changes to the ordinance and advised them to offer their suggestions.
The amendment, which is Article 5 on the warrant, would tailor the general purpose of the district to capture the diversity of uses it has come to house over the past 30 years while distinguishing it from residential and retail zones. The district is described as "ideal for small to medium size businesses" that do not "depend on high visibility from the roadway." The permitted uses include light manufacturing, commercial printing, warehousing, laboratories, storage, building materials, clinics, offices and firewood processing. Building trades, equipment rental and repair, vehicle service, child care, recreational and cultural facilities, schools and restaurants would be permitted by special exception. The uses are clearly defined by the proposed ordinance.
When the issue came before the ZBA, Justin Van Etten, the owner of Stewart's Ambulance Service, told the board that he was among the potential investors working with Duncan and Page to pursue the project. He stressed that the sports complex, by supporting other local businesses, would significantly contribute to the economic development of the town. The minutes record that Van Etten noted that most tourists visit Meredith between Memorial Day and Columbus Day, but that the sports complex would be "counter-cyclical. It puts heads on beds and heads in restaurants," he continued, starting about the end of October and going to about the beginning of May."
Neither Duncan nor Page could be reached for comment.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 February 2014 02:19

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Snowbanks, snow melt conspire to chew holes in city streets

LACONIA — City Public Works crews have spent the last three days patching potholes on Union Avenue, between Gilford Avenue and Messer Street, and the length of Court Street, which were lined with cones and barricades last week, Public Works Director Paul Moynihan said yesterday. However, with wintry conditions lingering, he feared the work may prove "a losing battle" with the traffic and the elements.

Moynihan explained that with the frequent storms the snowbanks have reached into the travel lanes, covering the storm drains and catch basins. Moreover, on both Union Avenue and Court Street the travel lanes are rutted and the pavement weakened. With drainage impeded by snowbanks, water collects in the rutted travel lanes then washes toward the curb and seeps into the compromised pavement to undermine the surface, a process exacerbated by the recent cycle of freezing and thawing.

Moynihan said that many of the potholes are on the shoulders of the roadway, which are especially weak. The drivers of the trash trucks, which normally ride on the shoulders, have been asked to stay nearer the travel lane.

Moynihan said that while the department encounters these conditions every year in February and March, the sheer volume of snow and age of the streets has made this winter particularly challenging. He said that the stretch of Union Avenue was last rebuilt in 1991 and Court Street in 1996.

Since there will be no hot asphalt until April, crews are limited to applying a cold mix. At the same time, Moynihan said that he hopes there will be time and resources to remove the snow lining the roads to reduce the volume of melted snow on the roads.

Meanwhile, Moynihan said that work to reconstruct Union Avenue from Gilford Avenue to Messer Street is scheduled to begin next month. "It should be better next winter," he remarked. But, he said it would be at least "a year or two" before significant improvements were made to Court Street. "We can't do both with the funds we have available," he said.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 February 2014 12:51

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Bahre estate offered for $49-million

ALTON — In what the listing agent calls "the most significant offering ever to come to market in New Hampshire," Longview on Lake Winnipesaukee, the estate at Clay Point owned by the Bahre family, is for sale. Landvest, an affiliate of Christie's, lists the property for $49 million.

Bob Bahre, who rescued the Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine in the 1960s, parlayed his investments in auto racing, banking and real estate into purchasing Bryar Motorsports Park in Loudon in 1989, which a year later opened as the New Hampshire International Speedway. In 2008 Bahre sold the track to Bruton Smith of Speedway Motorsports for $340 million in a cash deal.

The property of 16.56 acres with 1,594 feet of shoreline includes two homes on separate lots — built between 2000 and 2003 — which together provide some 63,000 square feet of living space, and a post and beam "entertainment barn" of 7,655 square feet, with a catering kitchen and two-bedroom apartment. In addition, the gated estate, reached by a long, winding drive-through verdant grounds, features a tea house and two boathouses, along with an amphitheater, tennis court, helicopter pad, pool and grotto.

The main residence of 38,000 square feet on 9.48 acres with 733 feet of waterfront counts seven bedrooms 16 baths and 15 fireplaces together with two four-car garages, each topped by a one-bedroom apartment with kitchen and bath. Along with a two-story ballroom, formal dining room and living rooms, the home houses a pub, billiards room, library, gym and theater.

With 24,833 square feet of living space, the second, smaller home on 7.08 acres with 861 feet of shorefront provides four bedroom suites, nine baths and eight fireplaces along with a living room, music room, family room and theater, all of which face the lake. The paneled library leads to an infinity pool and grotto.

While the entire estate is for sale, its two parts are also offered separately, the larger for $25 million and the smaller for $24 million. The town assessed the larger parcel at $11,462,300 and the smaller at $7,518, 200.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 February 2014 01:06

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