BELMONT — Selectmen voted unanimously last night to continue servicing what they consider to be the private portion of Jefferson Road and all of Lakeside Drive until Oct. 20, 2014.
With about 60 people packed into the Corner Meeting House, the board told residents to research their property records to see if there is any proof the town was responsible for the portion of Jefferson Road west of the railroad tracks.
"It just doesn't make a lot of sense," said one woman whose family has owned property for years and has had town sewer since the 1980s. "We don't want to get an attorney but we certainly will."
Last night's public hearing was really to discuss declaring Bayview Road and Wakeman Road emergency access roads, but most who came were residents of the west portion of Jefferson Road who also want an emergency declaration. As a result of the decision to wait, there will be no change in services until October 2014 although selectmen had initially planned to stop services much sooner.
Many who spoke at last night's public hearing said not maintaining or plowing that portion of road should fall under the same emergency clause as Bayview and Wakeman Roads because not maintaining them will create a safety hazard.
One man said his home burned down in 2006 and, had it not been raining or had there been too much snow for firefighters to access the area, it's possible that many of the other homes would have burned as well.
Many also reminded selectmen they have town sewer and pay fairly high property taxes.
The town is undertaking a road inventory to gradually determine the legal status of all the roads in Belmont. The inventory began in 2009 and, according to state law, it is illegal for a municipality to spend money or resources maintaining private roads.
The standard for a public road is set by state law and states a road must have been prescriptively used or used without the permission of the owner since 1948 in order to be "grandfathered." The only other way a road can be public is if the town builds it, if it is part of a designated subdivision, or if the road is brought up to a minimum standard and the town votes to accept it as a public road.
The east portion of Jefferson Road from Tucker Shore Road to the railroad tracks was built by the town in 1937 and will continue to be a public road. The westerly section, said Land Use Technician Rick Ball, "is not that clear-cut."
The earliest record regarding plowing and regular maintenance of Jefferson Road west is in 1973 when the Board of Selectmen told the former road agent to plow it.
Selectman Chair Ron Cormier told the crowd that the town is not trying to take something away from them but must definitively prove the west portion of Jefferson Road is public in order to legally continue plowing it. He encouraged them to check their deeds and bring any available information to the town for review.
Selectmen said last night that as a result of road inventory, the town has stopped maintaining other private roads in Belmont.
Cormier said the westerly portion of Jefferson Road — or Jefferson Loop — is not the only private road to lose services, but it is one of the private roads in town that has the most homes and residents.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 August 2013 03:40
LACONIA — An area man has apparently become the target of extreme cyber stalking and has petitioned and received an order of protection from the Belknap County Superior Court against his stalker.
The victim said he has moved from the area for professional reasons and that he met his alleged stalker on an internet site.
"We continued to chat about a business opportunity for a week or two but the conversation turned flirtatious and then spiraled out of control quickly," the plaintiff wrote.
The Daily Sun checked the Website and it appears to be one that sells self-created artwork that tailors to families. The Website is registered in Australia according to GoDaddy, an online Website registration company.
His filing said that for the past six or seven months he has been begging her to stop contacting him but she has done everything she can to stay in touch, including calling him from 75 to 100 different phone numbers between 750 and 1,250 times.
The victim said she has also sent him text messages and contacted a number of his friends and family by alleged hacking into his phone and stealing his electronic contacts.
He said she even contacted him by cell phone while he was in the Belknap County Court House waiting to appear in court.
He said the woman has made several attempts to use Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Amazon and other social media Websites to reach him and has set up duplicate Facebook accounts under the names of his friends and family to lure him in.
"When I block one, she just creates another," he wrote.
"She's crazy," he said.
He said she hired someone to take a picture of his father's gravestone and sent it to him. He said she has also fabricated airline tickets that showed she would be flying into to Boston "just to scare him and his family."
He said the woman has somehow been able to call him from numbers that show up on his caller ID as the Belknap County Sheriff's Office or some of his family members. The Sheriff's Department confirmed last week they are investigating the stalking as a possible criminal act. The victim said federal authorities have also been contacted.
In her response, the defendant said she met the alleged victim in mid-December of 2012 through her job on a Internet site and that he will occasionally tell her he cannot continue to have contact with (her), but re-engages her within a short period of time.
She denies stalking him and has accused him of abusing the court system.
The alleged victim's wife filed a separate restraining order saying the woman had contacted her as well on June 16 and had sent her a racy photograph that the couple's young son had accidentally seen while playing a game on her cell phone.
"(She) has told me several times that (she) sees herself as above the law and no matter what I do, nothing will ever stick or make her stop because she will always figure a way around it," wrote the alleged victim's wife.
On August 13, Judge James O'Neill held a hearing and continued the restraining order. The defendant didn't appear but filed a motion for a continuance, which was granted, and a motion to appear by telephone because she said she is pregnant and cannot fly, which was denied.
A date for the final hearing for the restraining order is scheduled for September.
Last Updated on Saturday, 17 August 2013 03:06
LACONIA — With digital projection fast replacing conventional film, the Weirs Drive-In Theater, one of four of its kind remaining in New Hampshire, may soon face the choice of going digital or going dark.
"Without digital we would have to close," said Pat Baldi, owner of the venerable venue, "but it's a big expense." With digital projectors costing approximately $75,000 apiece, Baldi estimates an investment of $300,000 will be required to light the four screens at The Weirs. "That is a lot of money when we have have just a ten-week season," she said.
To defray a share of the cost, Baldi has enrolled in "Project Drive-In," a competition sponsored by American Honda Motor Company. Honda has invited people to visit the website www.ProjectDriveIn.com, where they can vote for their favorite drive-in theater as well as pledge to contribute to the national "Save the Drive-in Fund" at the Weirs Drive-In Theater. Each of the five most popular drive-in theaters will receive a digital projector from Honda.
"Any help we can get will make this more affordable," Baldi said. She said that her grandson has mounted a campaign on the theater's Facebook page, reminding everyone they can vote on-line — ProjectDriveIn.com/vote_41 — or by text — VOTE41 to 444999 — every day until the polls close on September 9.
Built in 1949, the Weirs Drive-In Theater is one of only 368 remaining of some 4,000 that operated in 1950s according to the United Drive-In Theater Owners Association. Of those that remain, about 140 have converted to digital projection. More than 90-percent of cinemas have made the change.
The three other drive-in theaters in New Hampshire are the Milford Drive-In in Milford, Northfield Drive-In in Hinsdale and Northern Nights Drive-In in Lancaster.
"We are the biggest drive-in in the state," said Baldi. "We don't want to close and we're looking at all our options."
Last Updated on Saturday, 17 August 2013 03:06
MOULTONBOROUGH —After a special meeting of the Planning Board on Wednesday and the regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen on Thursday many residents are more puzzled by the conduct of the selectmen than by that of the two members of the Planning Board — Josh Bartlett and Judy Ryerson — against whom they have initiated removal proceedings.
Amid much confusion, this much is clear. On July 10, the Planning Board, by a tortured process and in a controversial decision, approved the construction of an observation tower on Red Hill built without requisite permits. At least two of the five selectmen fielded complaints from citizens and the selectboard may or may not have received a written statement from one or more individuals apparently questioning the conduct of two members of the Planning Board.
Following their regularly scheduled meeting on July 18, the selectmen held a non-meeting with Town Counsel Peter Minkow to consider the information they had received. At the meeting the selectboard agreed to begin removal proceedings, but instructed Town Administrator Carter Terenzini and Minkow to offer the two members the opportunity to resign rather than undergo a public hearing. After both Bartlett and Ryerson refused to resign, the selectmen set a public hearing on September 9 to determine if there is cause to remove Bartlett and Ryerson from the Planning Board. The charges, which bore primarily on their conduct in approving construction of the observation tower, were set forth in letters to Bartlett and Ryerson, which were signed by the five selectmen.
The identity of the complainant has not been disclosed and the form of the complaint remains in question. Aggrieved that his character has been impugned, Bartlett has repeatedly asked the selectmen to name the source of the complaint and they have steadfastly refused. On Wednesday, Selectmen Russell Wakefield, who represents the selectboard on the Planning Board, told the Planning that the selectmen received a "petition" from a person he declined to name.
However, on Thursday, when Paul Punturieri, a member of the Planning Board, pressed the selectmen to disclose the source of the complaints, Joel Mudgett, the chairman of the board, replied "actually there were a number of people." Likewise, Selectman John Tolman said that before the board met "the issue was already on my radar." Mudgett went on to say that those who spoke to him did not want to be identified since they might appear before the Planning Board in the future.
When Wakefield asked if the selectboard could disclose the identity of "the person who initiated this with a petition, before any discussion was had by the board," Mudgett said "we had some paperwork . . . but I never did see an actual petition." Wakefield, who the night before insisted the petitioner, not the selectboard, initiated the proceedings — "we're just a pass through body," he said — remarked "I thought I did, but I could be wrong."
"I really am confused," said Bartlett, who reminded Wakefield that earlier he had said there was a letter and had directed Terenzini to provide it to himself and Ryerson, "because now I am being told that there is no such letter and you cannot disclose who the author might be.
"It's frightening to me, and it should be frightening to everyone of you as elected officials," Bartlett declared, "that one poison pen letter kept in secret and the author protected by some bond of secrecy can cause this much hassle. Is there a letter or not?" he asked.
Wakefield replied that the letter sent to Bartlett and Ryerson, with the notice of the hearing and list of the charges, "is not verbatim but very close to the document we received on the afternoon of that non-meeting with town counsel. That's what we received," he repeated. "We understood what it said."
Selectman Chris Shipp reminded his colleagues that anyone bringing a grievance against a town employee must submit a signed written statement and said that the same courtesy should be extended to appointed and elected officials. Several times he said that Bartlett and Ryerson should be entitled to face their accusers, explaining it that it was part of preparing their defense. He urged the board to address the issue of anonymity.
Although earlier Wakefield, the only selectmen to insist that the board received a document, conceded he could not recall if it was signed, Mudgett implied that it could not be disclosed because "the paperwork we saw that night was between us and the town attorney."
"The accuser at this point is the Board of Selectmen," Tolman said. "For right or wrong, we are the ones who signed this letter." He said that the selectmen found that the information they received warranted a public hearing. Wakefield disagreed, repeating what he said the night before that the "petitioner," not the selectmen, initiated the removal proceedings. "The Board of Selectmen are not the accuser," he said. "That's my belief."
Punturieri pointedly asked the selectmen if they had deliberated and voted during the non-meeting with town counsel on July 18. "Yes," said Mudgett. According to the Memorandum of the New Hampshire Attorney General on the application of the "Right-to-Know" law, "deliberation about the matter on which advice is sought may not occur during consultation with legal counsel." Instead, any deliberation and votes must take place in public session.
When Bartlett requested a record of the non-meeting under the Right-to-Know law, Terenzini told him that since no minutes are required of a non-meeting, none were taken and there were no other records of the proceedings. Meanwhile, Wakefield told the Planning Board that after consulting with town counsel the selectmen had no alternative other than to proceed with removal proceedings.
Although Wakefield said earlier that the "petitioner" would present the case against Bartlett and Ryerson at the public hearing, Mudgett said that the role would "probably" fall to Terenzini. Terenzini said yesterday that town counsel would likely serve as legal advisor to the slectmen in the course of the hearing, but hastened to add that there was no formal process for conducting removal hearings in either statutes or rules. "We're doing our best to craft a process that protects everyone's rights," he said.
Last Updated on Saturday, 17 August 2013 03:05
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