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Zoning Task Force fine tunning regulation of electronic signs

LACONIA — After meeting on Monday, the Zoning Task Force will recommend an amendment to the zoning ordinance regulating electronic signage to the Planning Board when it meets next week.

The task force proposes distinguishing between two types of "electronic message center" (EMC) — "static" and "dynamic." Static electronic signs are those on which neither the copy nor pictures change during the message while their dynamic counterparts appear to move or change as they present a stream of images or words that fly in, fade out, rotate and scroll across the face of the sign.

Neither type of electronic sign would be permitted in the six residential districts. Where they are permitted the dimensions and heights of signs must conform to those of freestanding signs in the specific district.

The task force recommends that so-called EMC-dynamic display signs be confined to the commercial resort district, which includes The Weirs, and permitted there only by special exception. Joe Driscoll, an attorney and member of the task force whose family owns and operates an inn and cottages at The Weirs, said as that these signs have increased in number in the absence of regulation during the past decade residents and businesses have asked for tighter regulation.

"They don't want Las Vegas in Laconia," remarked Larry Guild, who serves on both the task force and the Planning Board.

EMC-static display signs would be excluded from the downtown riverfront district but permitted in the commercial resort district and permitted by special exception in the professional, business central, business central/industrial. commercial, industrial park, industrial and airport industrial districts.

After some discussion the task force agreed to recommend that the display, whether images or words, on EMC-static display signs not change more frequently than every five minutes. Planning Director Shanna Saunders stressed that rapidly changing messages and imagery distracted motorists.

Warren Hutchins, who chairs the Planning Board, said that the challenge in drafting the ordinance is to strike an appropriate balance between protecting the safety of the public and promoting the growth of business.

Noting that the city of Concord prohibits both types of electronic signage, Suzanne Perley, who chairs the task force and serves on the Zoning Board of Adjustment, said "I think we should allow them, but also protect the city." She added that no other municipality has such a detailed sign ordinance.

Saunders said that the Planning Board, after considering the recommendations of the task force next week, will schedule a public hearing on the proposed ordinance in May. Once the Planning Board approves the wording of the ordinance it will present its recommendation to the City Council for adoption.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 March 2014 01:33

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Alleged armed robber held on $100k bail

LACONIA — The man who allegedly robbed an acquaintance at gunpoint Sunday afternoon was ordered held on $100,000 cash-only bail after appearing in circuit court yesterday afternoon.

Joshua A. McNeil, 31, whose most recent address is given as 239 Winter St. in Brockton, Mass., turned himself into police Monday night.

Police affidavits filed with the court said McNeil told them that he used a BB gun and that he admitted to the arresting officer that he was a heroin addict who had considered getting the police to kill him.

Police said McNeil had gotten a ride from two people he knew slightly but had allegedly pulled a gun near Vista Foods on South Main Street and ordered the passenger out of the car. He told the driver to turn onto Joliet Street where he tried to rob him.

The driver told police in his report that when McNeil realized he didn't have any money, he hit him in the head with the gun.

Both the driver and his passenger were able to pick McNeil out of a line up.

McNeil was represented by Public Defender John Bresaw who reserved the right to argue bail at a future date.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 March 2014 01:28

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83 year old gym floor at Laconia Community Center to be replaced

LACONIA — The City Council on Monday night granted the request of Kevin Dunleavy, director of Parks and Recreation, to withdraw up to $70,000 from a reserve fund for the maintenance and repair of municipal facilities to replace the hardwood floor of the gymnasium at the Community Center.

Dunleavy said that a reference in the Master Plan of 1991 indicates that the floor dates from 1931, when the armory that became the Community Center was constructed. According to the plan, the floor had been sanded five times and in some sections was "very thin and very spongy," suggesting it would need to be replaced "in the next few years." He said that several times since 2005 the department has requested funding to replace the floor from the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Committee, most recently last September.

"We are having problems," Dunleavy said, adding "it's not an emergency, but an urgent need." The floor, he continued, was last refinished in 2011 and is scheduled to be refinished again at a cost of $3,000 to $4,000, which he considered would be "throwing good money after bad."

Dunleavy said that he was making the request because the reserve fund has a balance of approximately $180,000, with the likelihood that another $50,000 to $60,000, will be added at the end of the fiscal year. "As far as I know there no other requests for significant funding," he said.

The $70,000, Dunleavy explained, reflected an estimate of $66,000 to lay a mid-grade maple floor over half-inch plywood with five coats of urethane from one firm. He said that if the project is not undertaken in the summer months, when schools typically repair and replace their gymnasium floors, the cost could be $4,000 less. Dunleavy anticipated the job could be completed in two weeks in late April and early May.

The gymnasium hosts 34 different programs with almost 27,000 participants each year and is in use approximately 68 hours during a normal week.

NOTE: The City Council authorized the City Manager to accept a $40,000 federal matching grant to fund the first phase of the Jewett Brook Watershed Management Plan. Luke Powell, assistant director of Public Works, said that the grant, awarded under the Clean Water Act, would meet about 51 percent of the cost of removing barriers, regrading and planting vegetative buffers to restore the floodplain on the property that formerly housed the TD Bank up stream of Union Avenue. Restoration of the floodplain would reduce sedimentation beneath the bridge on Union Avenue and the Normandin Square Apartments, which has contributed to flooding of the Busy Corner intersection. Powell explained that once the floodplain has been restored the city will approach the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services about dredging under the bridge and apartment building. The city will match the grant, with in-kind engineering and construction services worth $38,590, to complete the $78,590 budget for the project. Powell expected the project could be designed this year and completed in 2015.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 March 2014 01:24

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Alternative School students buy lunch for Laconia Senior Center patrons

LACONIA — Students in the Laconia Alternative Education Program showed their appreciation for their across the hall neighbors at the Laconia Senior Center yesterday by buying them a meal and helping serve it to them.
''It was very thoughtful of them. They're nice kids, polite and respectful and we love having them around. They're doing a good job next door,'' said Lorraine Parkhurst, one of about 40 senior citizens who took part in the meal.
Seth Leavitt-Carlson, director of the program, said that the students have developed a close relationship with the senior citizens and wanted to do something special for them.
''They came up with the idea all on their own. The students are very involved with the seniors and help put together Christmas or Easter bags for their programs. Some even decorated the dining hall for Christmas and last Halloween they served as judges for the costume contest the seniors held.'' said Carlson.
The students have also made a transition in their own lives, going from classroom failure and a feeling that they don't count, to a sense of motivation and accomplishment, proving to themselves that although they may not have fit into a regular classroom they do not lack for skills and ability.
They take math, social studies, science, art and English and the small class and individualized instruction they have received is paying huge benefits and pointing the way to a brighter future for them.
''I'm doing a lot better here than at any other school I've ever gone to,'' says Nate Dumensil, who started attending classes in January. ''I did not do a single paper in middle school and was starting out my freshman year the same way. A high school guidance counselor recommended I come here and I started to get help in my courses and now I'm getting A's in most of them,'' he says.
Nina Chase has had the same experience. ''I was failing all my classes at Winnisquam Regional High School and now I'm getting high honors. Having this kind of support makes you feel confident about yourself and that means a lot,'' says Chase.
Chase listened intently as Keith Shoemaker, 64, told her how he had met the challenges of raising a large family and how he had seen young people who might have been good candidates for the Alternative School Program blossom and develop into fine educators in the Laconia school system.
Danielle Morin told senior citizens Gemma Hamel, Cecile Campbell and Lorraine Parkhurst that she is also feeling good about her development since she became a part of the Alternative School Program and impressed them when she said she wanted to become a marine biologist.
''Why that's wonderful dear. You stick to your guns and you can do it,'' said Hamel.
Tresean Small helped Dougie Horne and Tyler St. Onge serve milk and then soup to the senior citizens and got praise from them for their good manners and the respect they show for all people.
''They're great kids and it's really nice to see kids who are polite and not swearing or causing trouble,'' said Herman Kimball, who has lived all of his life in the Lakes Region on Meredith and Gilford.
Small got to hear Hannelore Spence, who was born in Germany in 1934 and now lives at Beacon Street West describe some of the interesting events in her life.
''I've always wanted to write my memoirs, but I talk too much to do that,'' joked Spence, who said it was a real treat to have the young people around and be able to share parts of her life with them.

 

CAPTION:

Danielle Morin, a student in the Laconia Alternative Education Program, talks with Cecile Campbell and Gemma Hamel at the Laconia Senior Center. Students at the school bought lunch for senior citizens yesterday and helped serve the meal, which featured salad, butternut squash soup, macaroni and cheese, stewed tomatoes and cake and ice cream for dessert. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 March 2014 01:21

Hits: 159

 
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