Belmont OK’s sale of Mill

03 21 belmont votes for responders

Belmont firefighters are shown clearing hydrants following one of the winter storms to dump on the Lakes Region. Voters approved collective bargaining agreements with town workers. (David Carkhuff/Laconia Daily Sun)


Voters back contracts with Public Works, emergency responders: SB2 stays


BELMONT — Voters embraced three town departments hardest hit by last week’s nor’easter.
The town passed collective bargaining agreements with employees in the fire, police and Public Works departments, during Thursday, March 16, voting. They also approved both fixing and selling the Belmont Mill.

Voting was delayed from the previous Tuesday due to a nor'easter which created havoc across the Lakes Region.
Selectman Ruth Mooney said she was happy to sign the labor contracts Monday, March 20, during a selectmen's meeting. The board members signed the agreements and said copies and originals would be sent to the employees.
"They deserve it," Mooney said.
Article 18, for the collective bargaining agreement with Belmont Public Safety Employees Union Police Unit A, the police unit A, passed 423-283. The Public Safety Employees Union Fire Unit B agreement passed 436-273. The Public Works Employee Union agreement passed 398-279.
"The people very much supported them," Mooney said.
When fire and police personnel waited outside the polling place Thursday night, they showed signs of exhaustion, Mooney recalled. Likewise, Public Works crews worked long hours clearing roads after the March 14 nor'easter.
"These guys did a phenomenal job," Mooney said.
"These guys, they got my vote. I wouldn't want to do it," she said, noting the snow plow crews and emergency responders had a "rough week" responding to snow-clogged roads and motor vehicle crashes.
The selectmen as a board wrote a letter praising the three departments in the wake of last week's storm.
Combined, the three contracts will cost the town $457,510 in increased costs, based on a three-year overview in which the salary costs are compounded each year. However, the town estimates the costs differently, year to year, rather than against today's existing budget, for a three-year estimated cost of $226,488.
According to the town, the collective bargaining agreement with Belmont Public Safety Employees Union Police Unit A carries a first-year cost of $48,260, and increased year-to-year costs of $126,328 over three years.
According to the town, the collective bargaining agreement with the Public Safety Employees Union Fire Unit B costs $18,040 in the first year, and $59,892 over three years. And the town estimates that the collective bargaining agreement with the Public Works Employee Union costs $18,415 in the first year, and $40,268 over three years.

In other business:

• A slate of Shaker Regional School District articles passed with voters. These included Article 2, the collective bargaining agreement with teachers, 418-373; Article 3, permission to call a special meeting for the collective bargaining agreement if needed, 435-359; Article 4, the operating budget of $22,475,634 for the school district, 581-221; Article 5, $75,000 to be added to the School Facilities & Grounds Expendable Trust Fund, 561-244; Article 6, $10,000 to be added to the Technology Expendable Trust Fund, 593-209; and Article 7, authorization of voting places, 602-189.

• Shaker Regional School District voters decided to stay with the SB2 form of town government. Article 8, a petition to rescind SB2, or official ballot voting, failed 308-495. Advocates for SB2 said voters could more readily go to the polls during daylong voting rather than face a limited afternoon or evening of deliberating and voting as combined under a traditional Town Meeting.
• In town voting, Claude "Sonny" Patten won a single selectman's seat with 335 votes. Brian Watterson finished with 252 votes, Ronald Cormier received 94 and Richard Pickwick received 24 in the race. Patten and other elected officials were sworn in Monday at the selectmen's meeting. Others sworn in included newly elected library trustees Mary-Louise Charnley and Gail Thomas, who ran unopposed on the ballot for three-year and one-year terms, respectively; Craig Clairmont and Norma Patten, two of four candidates elected to Budget Committee, with 492 votes and 488 votes, respectively; and Planning Board member Kevin Sturgeon, who won one of two seats with 402 votes. Not present for the swearing-in were Susan Harris and Peter Wells, who won Budget Committee seats with 497 and 462 votes, respectively, and Peter Harris, who received 462 votes for Planning Board. Harris and Patten also were elected to the Zoning Board.
• An article for the All Veterans' Tax Credit passed 600-106. Article 9 adopted new provisions of the veterans' tax credit, after legislators removed a date restriction for times of service. This change could add 195 credits in Belmont, and the veterans' tax credit cost could climb from $235,300 in 2016 to $335,500, nearly a 30 percent increase, according to the budget.

• Voters endorsed either the restoration or the sale of the historic Belmont Mill building.

Ballot Question 6, asking voters if the town should renovate the Belmont Mill, passed 440-267. Ballot Question 7, asking voters if the town should demolish the Belmont Mill, failed 170-522. Ballot Question 8, asking voters if the town should sell the Belmont Mill, passed 383-320.
The Belmont Mill, an 1833 brick structure originally constructed by the Gilmanton Village Manufacturing Company was restored and rededicated through community efforts in 1998 and currently additionally houses several community service facilities.
In January 2015, selectmen estimated the cost of renovations at over $1 million.
A warrant article calling for the Belmont Mill's renovation was defeated by Belmont voters in March 2015. The proposal called for dedicating $3.36 million — most of it in bond funding — to refurbish the building and move town offices there.


03 22 belmont voting swearing in
Belmont Town Clerk Cynthia DeRoy, right, issues the oath of office to newly elected officials on Monday. Those sworn in included, from left, newly elected library trustees Mary-Louise Charnley and Gail Thomas, Planning Board member Kevin Sturgeon, Craig Clairmont and Norma Patten, two of four candidates elected to Budget Committee, and Claude "Sonny" Patten, who won a single selectman's seat. (David Carkhuff/Laconia Daily Sun)

Campground plans alarm neighbors


LACONIA — Residents of a rural area near Pickerel Pond gasped, groaned and laughed at a public meeting Monday night when Jill Miller told them how many recreational vehicle sites could be placed in a campground she wants to build near them.

“As far as RVs, I would say there wouldn't be any more than a hundred of them in there,” the Massachusetts woman said at a Laconia Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting, where Miller was asking for a special exception for the campground.

One woman shouted in disbelief, "A hundred?"

Board Chairman Steven Bogert demanded quiet.

Miller, who hasn't yet purchased the 99-acre site near Parade Road and Roller Coaster Road, also envisions tent camping sites, a neighborhood store, and farm animals like goats, horses and chickens.

Board members told her to come back when she has refined her plans, which didn't have details like exact numbers of camping spaces and how sewage would be handled.

Bogert said a preliminary site plan should be prepared before zoning variances and exceptions for the project can be considered.

“How many campsites are you looking at?” he asked. “That's going to be an important question, because too many can impact the character of the area.”

Miller sought to assure those at the packed meeting that she doesn't want to disrupt the area's rural character or intrude on the privacy of those who live there. She said she would put up fences or walls, and even use wild game cameras to ensure campers aren't wandering onto nearby properties.  

“I'm very concerned about not impacting the neighbors at all,” she said.

Those at the meeting seemed unconvinced. Several said the project could lead to odors, trespassing, noise, traffic, air pollution, water pollution, damage to wetlands, fire danger, drunkenness and loss of property values. Traffic accidents could be expected on the busy, twisting road leading to the property, they said.

Debra Cheney, who lives in the area, asked the board to reject the project.

“If people are tenting, how do we prevent invasion of our own property?” she asked. “Who's going to prevent these people from four-wheeling through our fields? It's going to be an intense impact on city services. During Motorcycle Week there will have to be police officers for traffic.

“I think this is poorly presented," Cheney continued. “I just would hope that you'd truly take into account those of us who live there and take pride in that area. The wetlands should not be disturbed, and you're not going to protect it if you have that many campers. If an applicant can be this shoddy about what she brings to this board, there is no guarantee that she's going to sustain that in a manner that would help any of the abutters. It's a rural residential area. I beg the board to please retain that for the city. This is not in the best interests of the city.”

Gilmanton selectmen spar over board appointments


GILMANTON — The routine business of appointing members of the public to town boards took a strange turn Monday when a decision to postpone appointments sparked a brief uproar and a walkout by one of the selectmen.
Stephen McWhinnie, chairman of the Gilmanton Selectmen, delayed making appointments to town boards, sparking an argument that led to Selectman Michael Jean walking out of Monday's meeting.
The debate began when selectmen took up a request by Planning Board member Gareth "Marty" Martindale to serve as an alternate member of the Zoning Board of Adjustment. An alternate is a fill-in member who can vote when a full-time member fails to show up.
According to the town website (, vacancies on town boards include two alternate positions on the Planning Board and three alternate positions on the Zoning Board.
At the Thursday, March 16, ZBA meeting, only four of the five full-time members were present to vote.
But before selectmen could wage much discussion, a motion by Jean to confirm Martindale's appointment failed to generate the needed "second" to allow a vote. Instead, selectmen McWhinnie and Marshall Bishop raised their hands in an apparent "no" vote, even though the motion hadn't been seconded.
Bishop later clarified that he had meant to vote to recuse himself, not to vote no. In any event, the failed motion spurred a back-and-forth about why selectmen would not place Martindale as an alternate to the ZBA.
Martindale, the Planning Board vice chairman, had appeared before selectmen at their Feb. 27 meeting to make the same request for appointment as a ZBA alternate. At that meeting, the selectmen had made no decision, saying they wanted more information. Selectman Bishop at that meeting had recused himself from any decision based on his ongoing dispute with the Planning Board over operation of his restaurant at the Gilmanton Winery and what was then an active regulatory review before the ZBA.
Martindale told selectmen both on Feb. 27 and again Monday that he simply wanted to improve communication between the ZBA and the Planning Board. The ZBA is a quasi-judicial body that reviews land uses based on the town zoning ordinance. The Planning Board is a town-created board that reviews site plans and the details of proposed activities.
Martindale said, "There's no such thing as a Planning Board rep," noting that he would not be a representative from the Planning Board to the ZBA.
Elizabeth Hackett, chairman of the Zoning Board of Adjustment, was not present at Monday's selectmen's meeting but clarified in an interview that she researched state law and confirmed that Martindale can serve on both boards. The caveat was that Martindale would not be allowed to vote on an application before the ZBA if that same application had come before the Planning Board and Martindale possessed "inherent knowledge" about it.
"I would not let him vote because that's unfair to the applicant and that's unfair to the rest of the board," she said.
Hackett said she has shepherded this request for dual board membership past the Planning Board and to selectmen. The Planning Board, she said, was aware of his request and expressed no concerns. As a formality, she suggested putting the matter into the minutes of the Planning Board, but the Planning Board did not vote on Martindale being a ZBA alternate.
"I would love everybody to come on as alternates," Hackett said, noting the difficulty of keeping slots filled on boards.

The dust-up at Monday's meeting happened as soon as the board failed to confirm Martindale.
Jean said, "We need alternates. You guys just voted it down. For what reason?"
McWinnie said, "I haven't decided yet. I haven't even spoken with them."
Jean said, "The chairman of the board was here and was in favor. I believe she was in favor of it a couple of weeks ago."
Bishop said, "I recused myself anyway, so I really can't give you a yes or no."
Jean said he was surprised that anybody would want to serve on a board as a volunteer member.
"I think it's a shame," Jean said. "He's willing to volunteer for this board, they need alternates. All he would be is an alternate in case somebody doesn't show up, like the other night, they had a board with four people instead of five. You would stand in for whoever wasn't there. Unless there was a conflict with the Planning Board, then he couldn't."
When town staff clarified that Jean's motion for appointment failed for lack of a second, Jean took issue with Bishop. Raising his voice, Jean said, "I want to make sure you document that he voted against it the first time because he's done that several times in the last year, and I'm getting sick and tired of it."
Asked what he was getting sick and tired of, Jean said, "Conflicts of interest," sparking a brief, muddled argument on the board between Jean and McWhinnie.
Pressed on why he failed to support the appointment, McWinnie said, "I haven't given enough thought to it."
Then, McWhinnie said he wondered if it was a good idea to "combine the two," referring to the Planning Board and Zoning Board.
"I wanted to talk to a few more people before I make a decision about combining two boards," he said.
McWhinnie said Martindale wants to be a representative to the ZBA. "Your exact statement was you wanted to bridge the gap between the ZBA and the Planning Board," he said.
"Only for communication," Martindale said.
With this appointment at an impasse, town staff noted that two other appointments were on the agenda. Perry Onion requested reappointment to the Zoning Board, and William Mahoney requested reappointment to the Planning Board, according to the agenda.
"I'm going to table all of them until next meeting," McWhinnie said.
"I make a motion to adjourn," Jean said.
When nobody seconded the motion, Jean rose from his seat and walked out of the room.