Public or private? Gilford selectmen investigating handful of roads

GILFORD — Greg "Lucky" Lemay bought his home in 1976 and said when he purchased it, Emerson Road was a town road.

On Wednesday, he told the members of the Board of Selectmen, Public Works Director Peter Nourse and Highway Supervisor Brian DeNutte he'd like to keep it that way.

"This is too much road for me to maintain," said Lemay who noted that this is the third time he can recall the town has discussed discontinuing maintenance of Emerson Road.

Selectmen on Wednesday visited Lemay and residents of three other Class V roads that it is considering changing to Class VI private roads. The other three are Pinecrest Drive, which Town Administrator Scott Dunn said yesterday will definitely remain town-owned, Foxborough Drive and Wood Road.

Lemay said that his research in the Gilford/Gilmanton town annuls shows that Emerson Road may be the oldest road in the township. He said he lives in a home that was built in 1787 (when Gilford was still part of Gilmanton) that was originally built by Noah Weeks.

He said Noah Weeks was either a cousin or a brother to Ben Weeks who built Week's Farm on Belknap Mountain Road.

"They wanted to be close enough to visit but not close enough to bother," Lemay recounted reading.

He said the there are two parcels of land and he owns both of them. The one with his home is a 15-acre lot while across Emerson Road is a second 35-acre lot he uses as a small Christmas tree farm. The lots have never been merged.

There is a 25-foot horse trail that leads from the end of Emerson Road into the woods. Lemay believes that at one point in time it led to Weeks Farm as well as Merrymeeting Road, which remained in Gilmanton when Gilford broke away in 1804.

Lemay contends that when he and his wife bought their home, Emerson Road  was a public  and it's unlikely he would have purchased it if it was on a private road. He also said that his tax rate is based on the fact that he lives on a town-owned and -maintained road, which is reflected in his tax rate that has gone from about $1,000 in 1979 to $5,000 in recent years. The Christmas tree farm is in the "current use" tax shelter program.

He told selectmen that if the road ends up being his, he should get a commensurate tax break to compensate him for what it will cost him to maintain it. Emerson Road is about 75 yards long. At the end and in front of his home is a two-point turnaround used by Public Works employees in the winter. The town also grades it annually.

At Wednesday's selectman's meeting, John Scudder and Sylvia Nichols of Pinecrest Drive attended to learn the status of their road. Although selectmen had visited their road earlier in the evening, the two said they missed meeting with them.

Nichols said she was initially concerned that after reading The Daily Sun two weeks ago, she thought her road was going to be closed. Dunn encouraged her to call him if she ever had a question about something she read in the newspaper concerning the town.

After the meeting, Scudder said he thought the classification concerning Pinecrest Drive had been settled about 10 years ago.

Yesterday, Dunn told The Daily Sun the town paid some money to one of the homeowners on Pinecrest Drive as the result of a legal settlement. He also said Pinecrest Drive would remain public and will be maintained by the town.

Foxborough Drive is posted as private property with a no trespassing sign. There is a small turn-around just off Belknap Mountain Road but three long driveways lead to homes. Apparently the town plows the entire loop, including the posted portion.

Mayor suggests city taking action against man allegedly selling used cars without zoning OK

LACONIA — When the City Council met this week, Mayor Ed Engler said that the city is taking steps to address complaints about the continued sale of used cars at Gulbicki's Towing & Auto Repair on Weirs Boulevard, the substance of which will be disclosed within the next two weeks.

Engler spoke in response to Denis Bourque, the owner of nearby property at 1187 Weirs Boulevard. For the second time this month, Bourque told the councilors that the business has operated in violation of the zoning ordinance for more than a year with the knowledge of city officials, who have done nothing to stop it. Earlier this month Bourque told the council "I've gone to the city and have gotten little or no help."

In 2011, C.J. Gulbicki applied to the New Hampshire Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for a license to sell used cars at his father's repair shop. When the DMV asked if used car sales were permitted at the location, Planning Director Shanna Saunders assured the agency they were and Gulbicki was issued a license in February 2012.

However, the property lies in the Commercial Resort District where used car sales are only permitted by a special exception granted by the Zoning Board of Adjustment. When Saunders realized her mistake, she advised Gulbicki to apply for a special exception, which the ZBA ultimately denied. Last year the DMV notified Gulbicki his license would be revoked. At Gulbicki's request, Saunders intervened, asking the agency not to revoke his license since he was seeking to rectify the situation.

This week, when Bourque pressed City Manger Manager Scott Myers to explain why the city intervened on Gulbicki's behalf, he was told that Gulbicki had agreed to dispose of remaining inventory and curtail future sales. Myers also said that enforcement actions "are not always successful," prompting Bourque to reply "that's smoke and mirrors . . . I don't buy the answer."

Nevertheless, in March the DMV revoked Gulbicki's license. Gulbicki has indicated he has made arrangements to operate a used car lot at 248 South Main Street where it is permitted by the zoning ordinance. Meanwhile, Bourque insists that Gulbicki has continued to sell cars from the property on Weirs Boulevard with the use of a cell phone and the website Craigslist, transactions Gulbicki claims are "private sales".

This week Engler assured Bourque that enforcement actions are "underway". He said these steps cannot be discussed in public at this time, but urged Bourque to return in two weeks when an explanation of the measures would be forthcoming.

Afternoon Gilford brush fire contained

GILFORD — Firefighters from eight towns fought a fast moving brush fire beyond the last house on Belknap Mountain Road for more than three hours yesterday.

Deputy Fire Chief Brad Ober said the fire was reported by the Belknap Fire Tower around 3 p.m. Gilford firefighters arrived to find the fire, pushed by a strong wind, climbing a steep slope, and called a second alarm. He said that crews from Laconia, Belmont, Alton, Gilmanton, Tilton-Northfield, Sanbornton and Meredith responded. "We were light on manpower and it looked like it would run on us," Ober said. "We used everyone who was there."

Ober said that the fire burned more than acre and may have started from embers remaining from when a homeowner burned brush the night before.