By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — The City Council this week agreed to sell a small patch untended woodland owned by the city on Davis Place to Harry Bean, but shunned offers from Lloyd Wylie to purchase larger expanses of city property adjoining his own lot on the street.
The Planning Board and Downtown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Advisory Board advised the council against any sale, which they said would hinder public access to the Winnipesaukee River while the Conservation Commission said that any transaction should include a easement to protect the natural environment and ensure public access to the riverfront.
Bean will acquire 9,810 square feet of land straddling Jewett Brook, which abuts the house lot he owns at 32 Davis Place. Most of this land lies within a sprawling 1.67-acre lot owned by the city that fronts on Davis Place, stretches along the north bank of the Jewett Brook to the Winnipesaukee River and includes a sliver of land reaching from the south bank of the brook to Howard Street. The remainder consists of a strip of land, approximately 10 feet by 131 feet along the east side of a 0.15-acre lot, also owned by the city, that lies within the larger lot.
The land has become a dumping ground and gathering place where undesirable activities take place, which frequently require intervention by the police. Bean said he will attach the property to his house lot next door and maintain and police it.
City Manager Scott Myers told the council that Bean's proposal "will not impact any potential future City use for the Riverwalk or other access to the Winnipesaukee River." Nor, he continued, would the parcel qualify as a buildable lot. Almost all the property lies within the 75-foot wetland buffer along Jewett Brook where no vegetation can be removed or altered without a permit from the Planning Board.
Bean He will pay $6,500 for the parcel, which by including the cost of surveying and conveying the property not to exceed $5,000 ensures the city a return of $1,500. Adding the land to the abutting abutting house lot will increase the assessed value of that property by $10,800.
Myers said that along with the sale, the city will merge the 0.15-acre lot into the 1.67-acre lot surrounding it
Only Councilor David Bownes (Ward 2) opposed the sale, calling it "premature" and insisting "this is not the way the city should be doing business."
After the sale to Bean was approved, Councilor Brenda Baer (Ward 4) proposed considering Wylie's two offers to purchase portions of the 1.67acre lot, which abuts his property to the east and south. He offered $3,500 for the portion of the lot abutting his property to the south and fronting the Winnipesaukee River and Jewett Brook, an area of 0.40 acres.. Alternatively, he offered $20,000 for the entire lot excluding the parcel Bean purchased and the stretch on the south bank of Jewett Brook leading to Howard Street, an area of 1.43 acres.
Myers noted that the lot is a building lot with approximately 200 feet of frontage on the Winnipesaukee River and is assessed at $60,500. He suggested that if the council accepted either of Wylie's offers, the transaction should include an easement to provide public access to the riverfront.
Baer's motion, seconded by Councilor Armand Bolduc (Ward 6) to accept Wylie's first offered failed by a four-to-two vote and her motion to accept his second offer failed for want of a second.
"This is valuable riverfront property," said Councilor Bob Hamel (Ward 5). "We should not be in rush to sell this property."
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