Gilmanton Winery allowed to continue operation, but still faces scrutiny

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILMANTON — Marshall Bishop may continue operating his winery and function room as well as the portion of his restaurant that is in the section of the house he originally converted, as the Zoning Board of Adjustment voted 4 to 1 Thursday night to allow the use.

The permission comes in the form of a special exception because according to most members, the Gilmanton Table of Uses allows existing structures in the rural section to be converted to restaurants by special exception but new structures built specifically for restaurants to require a variance.

Members also requested the Planning Board review the Table of Uses as it relates to restaurants and develop clearer definitions of their applications.

Brenda Currier pointed out that the paperwork shows that Bishop received a preliminary site plan approval in 2011 that specified conditions, including that he file a completed site plan with the town, which he never did. She added he never built a bus turn-around, which was another condition.

She said that his application had the word "restaurant" crossed out and the words "function hall" written in its place.

Currier also said that because he changed the use of a four-bedroom home to a function room and a restaurant, she said he should get a variance so he could continue on with his business.

According to the state of New Hampshire website, "a special exception is a use of land or buildings that is permitted, subject to specific conditions that are set forth in the ordinance. A variance is a waiver or relaxation of particular requirements of an ordinance when strict enforcement would cause undue hardship because of circumstances unique to the property."

She said her objection is nothing personal but that she thought he should operate within the rules and guidelines established by the town for everyone.

Resident Barbara Swanson agreed, saying that "rules for one are rules for all" and that Bishop should bring himself up to code "even if it means starting at square one."

Speaking on his own behalf, Bishop said he believes the questions raised after he had been in business for 4 ½ years are personal and were raised simply because he is a selectman. Bishop added that all of the confusion around his approvals weren't his fault because the town never followed up with him on his preliminary site plan approval.

He also said that no one on the Planning Board or in the Planning Office ever told him he needed to go to the ZBA for anything. He added that what happened to him is emblematic of the dysfunction that has been prevalent in Gilmanton town government for the past five or six years.

Once the ZBA began deliberations, even 20-year veteran Chairman Elizabeth Hackett had some reservation about the change of use and whether the board should ask Bishop to return with a request for a variance.

Board member Nate Abbott said he thought a special exception for the originally portion of the renovation was appropriate but that Bishop should return for a variance before he begins any expansions.

Additionally, he apologized to Currier for insinuating at a recently Planning Board meeting that her husband had once paved a Class 6 road without permission. "I was wrong" he said.

Member Mike Teunessen said he opposed the ZBA granting either a variance or a special exception to Bishop because, in his opinion, Bishop had not made any efforts to comply with any of the town's requirements and that in some cases had deliberately circumvented them.

"In his mind, he was going to have a food establishment (thinking) that if he just do it "We'll give you an approval after the fact," he said. "Well, I'm going to vote no."

Hackett noted the board has stopped people from building things but had never made anyone tear anything down. "But we have that ability," she added.

Zoning Clerk Annette Andreozzi assured Hackett and the other board members that Bishop will still have to go before the Planning Board, which is waiting for a decision from the ZBA.

Abbott said he preferred to take the application and what's gone before it at face value.

"I choose to believe it's a benefit to the town," he said.

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Gilford residents asked to conserve water

GILFORD — Fire Chief Stephen Carrier is asking residents to voluntarily stop the use of outside water because of recent drought conditions.

Carrier said the state held a conference call with local fire chiefs, police chiefs, water works directors and emergency management and he was told that central New Hampshire was in a moderate drought stage that borders on severe.

"We all know many ponds in town are down as far as 4 feet," he said.

Carrier said the restrictions on outside water use are strictly voluntary and this is more of an awareness effort at this time.

He said the state has gotten calls form people all over the state whose wells have run dry, but said he personally hasn't heard of any in Gilford.

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Lee's Mills Steamboat Meet is nation's oldest and largest

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Janette Blazick of Tuftonboro sits aboard the Carrie Jean, 28-foot long steamboat which was built in California and is powered by Steeple Compound engine.

MOULTONBOROUGH — The annual Lee's Mills Steamboat Meet is both the largest and oldest in the country. Now in its 44th year, it began last weekend and runs through this weekend and there will be 50 or more steamboats participating.

It didn't start out as much back in 1972 when enthusiast David Thompson decided to hold a steamboat meet on Lake Winnipesaukee. Only four boats showed up.
But, over the years the meet has continued to grow in popularity and continues to attract a loyal following of steam boaters, many of whom return year after year.
Typical of those steam enthusiasts is Allen Blazick of Tuftonboro, who has been showing up ever since 1995 with the Carrie Jean, 28-foot long steamboat which was built in California around 1900 and is powered by a Steeple Compound engine.

Blazick bought the restored steamboat in SantaCruz, California, in 1993, not far from his summer home, and brought it to New Hampshire. He says that both the boat and the engine are unique, in that only 10 of the boats were made and only three of the engines of the same style that power the boat were ever made.

He said the steam which is produced goes into a high pressure cylinder, which is on the same connecting rod as a low pressure cylinder, and, after powering the drive shaft, the steam goes into a condenser beneath the keel where it is cooled and turned back into water. The water then goes back to the boiler, where it is reheated and repeats the process.

Blazick says he has always had a fascination with steam powered vehicles and it was inevitable that he and his wife, Janette, would end up with a steamboat. “When we were married her family had an 1899 steam-powered Locomobile and I had a 1909 Stanley Steamer, the same kind that Natalie Wood drove in The Great Race movie,” he says.

He says that noted car collector Jay Leno also has a 1909 Stanley Steamer in his collection. Blazick has an extensive collection of Stanley Steamers that he keeps at his home in Melvin Village. The collection was viewed by the public 10 years ago when he opened his garage during the 2006 Brass and Gas Tour, a national event featuring early 20th century classic cars.

Also at the meet are John and Nancy Echlin of Savannah, Georgia, who own a summer home in Holderness and were at the meet with their steamboat Liv-Slo.

“We just love it here. There are just so many friendly people,” said Nancy Echlin. She said that they raised their children in Connecticut and moved to Georgia when they retired in 1993 but return every summer to the Lakes Region and will keep their boat in the water until the end of September, when they head south again.

Another long-time visitor at the steamboat meet is Charles Roth of Glen Gardner, New Jersey, who has been showing up for about 20 years and whose latest boat, the Rachel Z, which he built himself six years ago, was back at the show again this year.

A former product design engineer, Roth said two years ago that he started out building model steamboats before going on to something bigger. The Rachel Z is his fourth boat and he says that when he first brought it to the meet it had a boiler and a steam engine, but no plumbing.
''There was plenty of help around and we got it up and running within a few days,'' says Roth.
The meet will run through Sunday and will feature a big parade of steamboats on the lake Sunday morning at 10 a.m.
Spectators are welcome and can get a chance to talk with the boat owners and maybe even get a ride. Visitors are asked to park their cars well off the road in order to allow access for the steamboats, which are trailered in, as well as for emergency vehicles.
Lee's Mills can be reached from either Rte. 25 or Rte. 109 by following signs to the Loon Center, which is a short distance away from the public docks at Lee's Mills.

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The 44th annual Lee's Mills Steamboat Meet is both the largest and oldest in the country. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

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