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Belknap Commissioners announce they'll take a second look at county jail options & will expand advisory group

LACONIA — Faced with virtually unanimous opposition to a proposed $42.5 million price tag for a new county correctional facility, Belknap County Commissioners Wednesday morning said they want to take a second look at the jail planning process.
''We're taking a step backwards to see what other options are available,'' said Commissioner Ed Philpot (D-Laconia), who chairs the county's Jail Planning Committee, which has been working for three years to come up with a plan to address the problems with the current facility.
As part of that process the commission is looking to expand the membership of the Community Advisory Committee, which was formed last year to provide public input into the jail planning process.
''We have a list of people we would like on that committee and we're getting in contact with them to see if they will become a part of the committee,'' said County Administrator Debra Shackett, who indicated that some of those being asked to join are members of the Belknap County Convention.
Several members of the convention, which is composed of the 18 elected legislators from the towns and city in the county, were critical of the jail planning process at a meeting last week in which a member of the public accused commissioners of neglecting the county jail in order to force the county to have to build a new one.
Commissioner Steven Nedeau (R- Meredith), said that nothing was further from the truth. ''We've been having public meetings for three years,'' and said that it was important that people realize ''that doing nothing is not an option.''
Nedeau said that during the whole process the commission has been aware that a new facility would most likely be needed. ''We don't want to throw good money at the jail and later on have it torn down.''

Shackett said that the the Jail Planning Committee has been considering six options and that after all of them have been vetted the committee will take a fresh look at what might be the best course for the county.
''It's a good healthy process,'' said Philpot, who said that one option which will most likely be off the table will be the closing of the current facility and farming out all of the prisoners to other correctional facilities around the state.
Shackett said that Strafford County has indicated a willingness to enter discussions about taking all of Belknap County's prisoners but that would be at a much higher rate than the current daily charge which the county pays.
She said that the Belknap County Correctional facility currently has 146 inmates, 26 of whom are being held in three different counties around the state.
''At 120 prisoners we're maxed out,'' said Shackett of the current jail's capacity.
Shackett said that the jail planning committee is considering switching its meetings from 4:30 on alternate Tuesday afternoons to 7 p.m. on Tuesday nights as well as having the meetings televised so that more people can be aware of the issues which are involved and become a part of the process.
Philpot and the other commissioners said that they were not in favor of closing the county jail and sending inmates to other counties.
''What happens to a police officer in Center Harbor who makes an arrest and there's no place to take them except Dover, which is 50 miles away?'' asked Philpot, who said that local towns would incur extra costs for prisoner transportation, as would the Sheriff's Department which would have to bring prisoners all the way from Dover to Belknap County for trials and then return them at the end of the day.

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 August 2013 01:02

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Zoning Board refuses variance for country club area housing development

LACONIA — The Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) this week denied a zoning variance that would have enabled a cluster development of 13 housing units to be built on a waterfront lot at 640 Elm Street, across from the Laconia County Club.

The zoning ordinance requires a minimum of 10 acres for cluster development, which is exempt from the lot size, frontage requirements and setback limits that apply in the zoning district. The majority of the board concluded that the 5.6-acre lot amounted to too small a share of the minimum to warrant a variance.

Bill Contardo, a member of the Planning Board, and his partner, attorney Paul Bordeau, sought to develop the property. They stressed that apart from the minimum tract size of 10 acres, the planned development would comply with all the requirements of the municipal zoning ordinance and the state shoreline protection statute.

The lot stretches from Elm Street to Lake Opechee, where there is approximately 150-feet of shorefront, and is bounded to the west by Mallard Cove and to the east by Kings Court. Since the lower half of the lot is laced with wetlands, the nearest unit to the lake would be 500 feet from the water's edge, further than similarly situated units at the neighboring residential developments of Mallard Cove, King Court and Country Club Shores. Likewise, Bordeau told the board that the density of 2.3 units per acre would be less than that of these nearby subdivisions.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 August 2013 04:52

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Trouble with asphalt put down at critical Meredith intersection

MEREDITH — Although recently paved, Routes 3 and 25 may require to be repaved before the construction season closes. Town Manger Phil Warren told the Board of Selectmen this week that the asphalt failed tests and striping has been delayed.

Warren said that the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT) has determined that the asphalt at the important intersection is moving and will have to be removed. In the meantime, temporary crosswalks will be marked. He said that the extent of the problem has yet to be determined and there are unresolved issues surrounding the responsibilities and warranties of the paving contractor and material supplier.

Meanwhile, Warren reported that the town budgeted $352,000 to overlay approximately 27,692 of roadway and $172,000 to chip seal another 31, 498 feet during the season.

Warren explained that roads with rutted travel lanes and longitudinal cracks were suitable for overlay at a cost of $5.47 per square yard. This year Follet Road, Northview Drive, Old Center Harbor Road, Harbor Heights Road, Cataldo Road, Reservoir Road, Veasey Shore Road, Leavitt Park Road, Quarry Road, Patrocian Shores Circule, Founders Road and Marrinello Road were scheduled for overlays.

Roads without deep ruts and extensive cracking but still vulnerable to infiltration by water, Warren said, can be maintained with chip seal, a mix of asphalt and fine aggregate for $2.25 per square yard. These included stretches of Skyview Circle, Carol Lane, Woodvale Drive, Eaton Avenue, Oak Island Road, Sachem Cove Road, Spindle Point Road, Observatory Road, Pinnacle Park Road, Red Pine Road, White Pine Road and Pine Cone Road.

Bonner Road, a 1,000-foot loop off Rte. 104, was reclaimed, rebuilt and repaved. The paving alone cost $22,000 and the reconstruction another $18,000. Warren noted that only one other road — Upper Ladd Hill Road — required reclamation and reconstruction. Although lightly traveled, he that that eventually it will be rebuilt at "significant cost."

Warren emphasized that the maintenance policy aimed "to keep as many good road good with the funds available" to forestall the need to reclaim and rebuild.

NOTE: Rhetta Colon, chair of the board of trustees of the Meredith Public Library, said that the trustees have retained Full Circle Consulting of Concord to assist with preparing a master plan for the library. The consultant will work with a master plan committee, which will advise the trustees. The committee will hold its first meeting in September.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 August 2013 04:31

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Crew of Lowe's employees adds deck to Tilton Senior Center

TILTON — The Senior Center is now graced with a patio, built, furnished and landscaped by volunteers from among the associates of Lowe's home improvement store of Tilton.

Robbyn Rachdorf. who managed the project, said that between 15 and 20 associates lent a hand. The project was undertaken under the auspices of Lowe's Heroes, a volunteer program that supports community organizations. She said that Belknap Landscape of Gilford advised on the design of the 15 foot by 20 foot patio while Lowe's provided the labor and materials as well as two sets of patio furniture and a selection of flowering plants.

Rachdorf said that when she began looking for a project she called Pat Consentino, who chairs the Board of Selectmen. Consentino said that she asked around town and when no other projects came to mind suggested a patio for the Senior Center. Rachdorf said the employees then voted to build the patio.

"They did a great job," Consentino said. "I had no idea they would contribute furniture and flowers."

Janet Bean, the human resources manager at Lowes who was among the workers, said that "the best part was that the seniors would come out while we were working to say thank you. This was a real people project

CAPTION: Robbyn Rachdorf of Lowes of Tilton cuts the ribbon to open the patio at the Senior Center built by a team of associates from Lowe's with a hand from Belknap Landscaping. Casey Heyman, manager of the store, stands to her left while to her are Emily LaPlante, Pat Consentino, Emily Bodwell and Jane Alden, members of the executive committee of the Senior Center. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch).

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 August 2013 04:23

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