Girls camp proposed for island in Paugus Bay

By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Big Island in Paugus Bay would be home to a conference center, retreat space for nonprofit organizations and a girls camp under a proposal to be considered Monday by the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

The owner of the 2.2-acre island, which is about 400 yards east of the marina at South Down Shores and some 1,500 feet north of Paugus Park Road, is seeking a special exception to residential zoning to allow the project.

In September of last year, the City Council rejected a request to rezone the property from residential to commercial after neighbors complained that the development would disrupt their privacy and the quiet nature of the area.

The application for special exception said the proposal has been modified.

“In subsequent discussions with the neighbors and city staff, one of the major concerns identified with the rezoning proposal was the potential for a wide variety of commercial uses that could be allowed on the island,” the application says. “In response to that concern, the proposal has been modified to a specific use (conference center) allowed by special exception while keeping the underlying residential single family zoning in place.”

Public utilities are piped to the island, where there is now one residence.

The island is owned by NH-Big Island Company, a nonprofit owned by Scott Everett.

“The development plans include remodeling the existing house into the director's residence and infirmary with a bath house addition, constructing a dining/meeting building and erecting five wooden tents, four on elevated platforms supported by sonotube piers and one at ground level for handicap accessibility.”

Guests, deliveries and most staff would arrive by boat from the Paugus Bay Marina, and one power boat would always be docked at the island. A 20-person pontoon boat would be used to transport campers to the marina for occasional day trips.

A loon nesting site on the eastern shore of the island is to be protected. Noise and visual impacts are also addressed in the application.

“In response to a neighborhood concern about potential noise impacts, a noise study was recently completed by a certified acoustical consultant who concluded that the estimated level of 30 dBA from children engaged in waterfront activity will be at or below the existing background sound level, and well below the average sound levels in the area,” the application stated. “The structures have been located in the open areas and around existing trees to minimize the amount of disturbance to existing vegetation.”

  • Written by Rick Green
  • Category: Local News
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Powerful savings – Electricity supply aggregation could reduce costs by $75,000

By THOMAS P. CALDWELL, LACONIA DAILY SUN
MEREDITH — A regional purchasing agreement could reduce the cost of electricity by $75,000 for the towns interested in participating.
The Lakes Region Planning Commission sent out letters on Wednesday announcing the negotiated rate of 7.3 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is well below Eversource’s current rates but only slightly lower than the rate that the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative charges.

The agreement would cover power purchased by municipalities and school districts. Individual homeowners’ electric rates would be unaffected by the agreement.

Last April, the regional planning commission conducted a survey of member towns to determine what services they might have an interest in. Energy purchasing and a health insurance cooperative topped the list.

Barnstead, Center Harbor, Danbury, Moultonborough, Northfield, Sanbornton and Tuftonboro were “very interested” in bulk energy purchasing, while Alton, Belmont, Effingham, Gilford, Meredith, Tilton and Wolfeboro were “somewhat interested.”
Jeff Hayes, executive director of the Lakes Region Planning Commission, said the Nashua Region electricity supply aggregation provided $1,357,522 in savings between 2012 and 2016. The success of that program proved that a regional approach could save a significant amount of money for participants.
Based on community interest, the Lakes Region Planning Commission filed with the state Public Utilities Commission on June 28 to provide electric aggregation services, and in August issued memoranda of understanding to the region’s towns and school districts. The MOUs explained the scope of the work to be done by LRPC and the contracting agencies, as well as governing rules for the agreement.
Hayes said 18 towns and six school districts expressed an interest in the program. Twelve others want to wait and see what happens. Some are already under contract with suppliers, and both Ashland and Wolfeboro have their own municipal electricity systems.
Electricity costs fluctuate on a daily basis, due to demand, fuel costs, and other factors, and any time a rate is locked in, it’s a gamble, Hayes said. The rate may go down and a community on a contract ends up paying above the market rate, while if rates go up, the community benefits from its contract.
In the case of electricity aggregation, the theory is that, by representing a larger pool of communities, it is possible to negotiate lower rates than what a single community would be able to achieve. However, if the timing is right, a community might lock in a low rate that even an aggregate could not reach.
The bid requests went out on Aug. 31, setting a period for vendor questions and responses, with a bid due date of Sept. 29. Hayes said they extended the deadline because of the difficulty of obtaining all of the necessary information from the utilities.
“It didn’t go as smoothly as we’d like, so we extended it about a week, but in the end we got three bids,” Hayes said. “We were hoping to save upwards of $100,000, but it’s still very worthwhile, and some communities are saving substantially.”
The bids came in about a half-cent more than last year’s projections, putting the figure close to what the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative has set for rates.
“The co-op rate is 7.47 cents, so it’s about a 2 percent savings over the co-op, but it’s a 48 percent savings over Eversource,” Hayes said.
He noted that the negotiated rate of 7.3 cents per kilowatt-hour still could change by the time a contract is signed.
“It’s an estimated price right now,” Hayes said. “I have to first say that this pricing looks good, and a review showed that it’s favorable to our membership. But it could change by the 25th when we lock the price in.”
Municipalities will need to vote on the preferred bidder by Oct. 17, and contract execution will occur simultaneously in all participating communities on Oct. 25. All must sign on the same day because of the daily market rate changes.
Although the pricing is based on the number of customers participating, Hayes said that, if a community decides not to sign a contract, it should not affect the rate, unless a large number of them drop out of the program.
The negotiated contract is for 12 months of service.
“There are pros and cons of going longer,” said Hayes, “but 12 is the minimum you need.”
Should the program prove to be successful, other communities might want to join. That happened in Nashua, where 11 joined in 2017.
Hayes said oil purchases and catch basin cleaning are other areas where a regional agreement might save money to participants in the future.

  • Written by Tom Caldwell
  • Category: Local News
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Police issue warnings about vehicle break-ins at trail sites around state

By THOMAS P. CALDWELL, LACONIA DAILY SUN
Police departments throughout Central New Hampshire, where a number of vehicle break-ins have been reported, are reminding people about the importance of locking their cars and putting valuable objects out of sight.
Deputy Chief Kristian Kelley of the Gilford Police Department said that, with the fall hiking season here, everyone should be vigilant and call the police department if they see anyone suspicious who does not appear to be there to hike.
There have been six break-ins at Gilford trailheads since June, especially around Mount Major, and Kelley said Alton also has experienced vehicle break-ins.
“We do have rashes of these incidents from time to time,” Kelley said. “We do have some leads, and are following up on some stuff now. We hope to bring closure sooner rather than later.”
He said those who steal from the cars are looking for quick snatch-and-grabs, so locking things in the trunk and keeping valuables out of sight serves as a deterrent.
“It can be frustrating for people,” he said, “but we’re using various techniques to find out who’s responsible.”
While Kelley said most of the incidents in Gilford are occurring at the trailheads, thefts can occur elsewhere as well, and Bristol police have issued a warning about vehicle break-ins throughout that town.
In a Facebook post, they said, “Over the past 2 weeks the Bristol Police Department has taken several reports of items being stolen from parked vehicles around town. Most of these thefts have happened during the day, some have occurred in the early evening hours. If anyone sees anyone that appears to be looking in vehicles, or acting suspicious, please contact us by calling 911. As always, we would also like to remind everyone to ensure that you do not leave purses, wallets, or other valuables in view and to ensure that your vehicle is locked when you park it.”
Bristol police said they are following up on several leads, and hope to identify those responsible “as soon as possible.”

  • Written by Tom Caldwell
  • Category: Local News
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