Gunstock Inn zoning change now goes to ballot

GILFORD — The Gunstock Inn and Resort would like its zoning changed to resort commercial, and on Tuesday the Planning Board voted to support that request.

The Gunstock Inn, at 580 Cherry Valley Road, is currently in a single-family residential zone and Les and Linda Schuster, who also own and operate the Lazy E in the Weirs, have petitioned the town for the property to be zoned to resort commercial, saying it would give them a chance to become profitable by allowing better signs.

"We would like to succeed, unlike previous owners," said Les Schuster in defense of his request at a Planning Board public hearing Tuesday. "All I'm asking is for the zone to fit the use."

The Gunstock Inn and Resort operates as an inn, a restaurant, and as a fitness center complete with a salt-water pool. Schuster said the inn portion of the business does well because it is booked by people looking for a place to stay; however, sign regulations because of zoning status have limited him from attracting any drive-by business to his restaurant and fitness center.

He explained that it took him a while to get through the entire planning and zoning process to get his expanded sign permit but that it cost valuable time, which is money in his line of work.

According to Jerry Gagnon of the Planning Board, Gunstock Inn was built in the late 1930s as a barracks for workers who came to Gilford to build what was then Gunstock Ski Area. The project was one of the first public works projects commissioned under former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his New Deal Program to get people back to work after the Great Depression.

At some point in the 1960s and 1970s, the inn became clubhouse of sorts for the then-expanding Gunstock Acres development of residential homes. Gagnon said it began operating as a public restaurant and a fitness club in the late 1980s.

One member opposed to the zoning change was Norman Silber, who said such a change constitutes "spot zoning," and since the use was already accepted and "grandfathered," there is no need to change its zoning status.

The final vote of the Planning Board was to recommend passage of the zoning change for the ballot in March. Silber and Carolyn Scattergood voted against recommending passage.

Gilford man charged with raping girlfriend

LACONIA — A Gilford man who allegedly raped his live-in girlfriend as she was trying to leave him is being held on $10,000 cash bail and $50,000 personal recognizance bail following his appearance in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division.

According to affidavits obtained from the court, Carroll R. Thompson, 44, of 2652 Lakeshore Road used physical force to get the woman onto the floor, pin her head with his arm and forcibly separate her legs. The alleged victim told police this happened in front of their 3-year-old child.

She told police she had packed her belongings and the child's, and they were preparing to move to a different location. In court yesterday, Concord was mentioned as the possible destination.

The report came to police about 30 minutes after the alleged assault and police were able to confirm the woman's claim that she had twice tried unsuccessfully to call 911 by looking at her cell phone.

While Gilford Police were taking statements from both Thompson and the alleged victim, a different officer took the child to a family friend nearby, who told her that he had heard noises that were consistent with what the alleged victim told police.

In addition, the child told the officer that "Daddy was hurting mommy," "Mommy was yelling," "Daddy didn't stop" and other like statements.

During the woman's statement to police, she told them where they could find certain evidence, which they found, and were also able to confirm her statement that Thompson threatened to kill himself with a pocket knife he carried. Police affidavits said they found a slight cut mark on Thompson's wrist and took from him a pocket knife.

Thompson told police she had assaulted him and showed them a bite mark on his abdomen. The alleged victim said she bit him while trying to fight off the attack.

The alleged victim also told police that both of them had been users of methamphetamine but she had stopped at Christmas and had only one slight relapse. She told them Thompson was allegedly still using the drug.

In court yesterday, Gilford Prosecutor Sgt. Eric Bredbury asked for $50,000 cash-only bail, citing that police consider it a very serious allegation, that Thompson had been convicted once for bail jumping, and that he still poses a danger to the woman and her family.

Defense attorney Allison Schwartz argued that her client would agree to stay away from the woman, that she is moving to another community, and that she was leaving the house so Thompson could still live there. Schwartz said Thompson has a part-time job, is in no financial position to post $50,000 cash bail and noted the bail jumping conviction was from 1993 and not recent enough to be relevant.

Judge Jim Carroll ordered he be held on $10,000 cash bail, $50,000 personal recognizance, and set a series of strict guidelines regarding Thompson's future behavior should he post bail.

Timber Hill ‘creates rift’ - Crowd fills Gilford Planning Board as it considers agritourism warrants

GILFORD — A member of the Gilford Planning Board told Andrew Howe of Timber Hill Road that his wedding receptions and the  petitioned zoning amendments he has submitted are creating a rift between town residents.

Member Jerry Gagnon asked Howe, who spoke for his petitioned warrant article to define agritourism under agriculture with virtually no fetters at a jam-packed meeting Tuesday night, to tell him what a wedding is. When Howe answered that it was when two people get married, Gagnon said he agreed but "a wedding is wedding, and not a wedding reception," which is what the Howes have been hosting on a portion of their farm.

"You're dividing everyone in town," said Gagnon to Howe.

Member Carolyn Scattergood said wedding receptions on farms reminds her of children's books where young ones have to pick out the one thing pictured that doesn't fit into a farm.

"I can't get past rental of a farm to a third party," she continued referring to the fact that the Howes hire the Common Man Restaurants to cater their events.

Audience member Bill Roderick asked the board to vote not to recommend the Howe's petitioned warrant article. He also encouraged the board to keep agritourism separate from agriculture, opening the door for a number of speakers to agree with him.

Jack Landow and his wife, Charlotte Landow, both said the two should be kept separate. He said agritourism is a relatively new phenomenon and its focus should be kept on agriculture.

"A wedding reception is not an agricultural event," he said.

"I believe agritourism and weddings have no place in agriculture," said Charlotte Landow who noted that she and her husband live between a sheep farm and a buffalo farm, and fears her property could be determined at some point to be commercial as well.

Ryan Crawford of Gunstock Hill Road agreed.

"I like the Howes and I go to Beans and Greens" (a second company owned and operated by the Howes in a commercial zone on Intervale Road), "As I look at these, I don't think they should be combined," he said.

Bill Seed, also of Gunstock Hill Road, has been opposed to the Howes hosting wedding receptions and including unfettered agritourism in agriculture for a long time.

"It must be a secondary use. It can't be a primary use," he said, referring to his research into agritourism.

One man simply stood at the podium and asked if it would mean agritourism would be allowed in all zones if the article is passed by the voters. When he was told "yes" by Morgenstern, he shook his head and walked away.

One man tried to speak on behalf of the Howes but when Morgenstern learned the speakekr didn't live in or pay taxes in Gilford but instead runs a business, he did not allow the man to speak.

The board then had little discussion and voted 5 to 1 with one abstention to not recommend the article.

The second petitioned warrant article would rezone all of the Howe property on Gunstock Hill Road from single-family residential to resort commercial. If passed, this will allow the Howes to do all activities on their property, including wedding receptions and the like, as well as other activities.

Andy Howe said this isn't true because all of his property is restricted by current use and is in a conservation trust granted by the Society for Protection of State Forests.

Crawford came to the podium for a second time and said this change would affect the value of his property. He said that the parties and weddings held last summer by the Howes "felt like they were in his own home."

"They woke up my kids and we had to close the windows," he said. It's not commercial, nor should it be."

Sally Rowe, who joined the agritourism conversation after living in Gilford for 50 years and never attending any meetings, said the proposal would "really screw up a lot of people."


Videos of wedding that have taken place at Timber Hill have been submitted to the town. They can be viewed at and


Members agreed 5 to 1, with Chan Eddy abstaining, that the petition would create "islands" of residential property within a commerical zone and voted not to support it.

As to their own proposed warrant articles, the board chose to put one on the ballot that would allow agritourism under certain conditions and within certain restrictions in all zones except Island Residential.

By agreeing to put the definition of agritourism under the category of agriculture and defining its parameters, the board eliminated a second proposal it generated that would have allowed it in all open space areas in all zones by a special exception from the Zoning Board.

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