Grant would fix most energy inefficient building in the state

LACONIA — One building in Laconia uses more energy than any other building of its type and size in New Hampshire, according to an energy audit, so the City Council is considering spending $500,000 to make improvements to the the Scott and Williams building at 22 Strafford St.

Councilors will consider a proposed application for $500,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds at a public hearing at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 28.
Improvements are needed to the central heating system, fresh air ventilation and insulation in the basement crawl space. The largest item will be to install a combined heat and electric power system so that the building can generate its own electricity.
The building houses nonprofit sponsored condominium units providing affordable workforce housing, community health care, wellness center and child care services.
Mayor Ed Engler said the application does not conflict with any city project dealing with the Colonial Theatre as the funds, which are awarded on a competitive basis, come from a different source of money.
The 60 so-called affordable housing units are overseen by the Laconia Housing and Redevelopment Authority and are known as the Normandin Apartments.
A strategic plan adopted in October by the housing authority calls for the agency to assume property management responsibilities at Normandin Square Apartments and Scott and Williams Condominium Association by July 1.
Other properties managed by the Laconia Housing and Redevelopment Authority include Sunrise Towers, 98 apartments; the Tavern Inn/Stafford House, 50 apartments; Northfield Village, 36 apartments; Perley Pond Townhouses, 35 apartments and Orchard Hill II in Belmont, 32 apartments.
The LHRA also manages other properties with a total 407 units, making it responsible for 718 apartment units.

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Police investigate burglary at carwash

LACONIA - Police are investigating a burglary at the Sparkle Clean Car Wash at 1181 Union Ave. after responding there at 1:23 a.m. Thursday for an alarm.

Responding officers found a rear door has been forced open but there was no one inside.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the Laconia Police at 524-5252 or the Greater Laconia Crime Line at 524-1717.

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Belmont man petitions to restrict industry zoning in order to protect that town’s drinking water from potential pollution

BELMONT — Protecting Belmont's drinking water is at the heart of a petition to restrict new industrial uses over the town's aquifer, but the result could be a heavier tax burden for some taxpayers.

At least 25 residents of Belmont, led by George Condodemetraky, have petitioned the town to disallow all new industrial uses in the aquifer protection zone.

If passes during the ballot voting portion of the annual Town Meeting, the effect of the article would be to prevent any new industrial uses in any portion of the industrial zone that is overlain by the aquifer protection zone.

"I've been trying to protect the water supply for the last 15 years," said Condodemetraky. "And this is the last time I'm doing it."

According to a printout called Protecting the Tri-Town Aquifer — the three towns in the case being Belmont, Tilton and Northfield — there are 20,427 acres of land in Belmont and 7,053 are in the aquifer protection zone.

"It would mean no industrial uses in about one third of the town," Town Planner Candace Daigle said. "A very unequal tax burden will be placed on the other residents of the community."

She noted that if the warrant article passes, all of the companies that are operating within the industrial zone will continue to operate as they did before; however, any new growth in the currently designated the industrial zone would be limited.

Daigle said there are only 14 named industrial uses in the entire zoning ordinance and eight of them aren't permitted. These six are allowed: accessory building/use, heavy manufacturing, municipal solid waste transfer stations, petroleum and propane gas bulk storage, salvage and junkyards, vehicle and trailer storage, and truck terminals. Two of them, accessory building and vehicle and trailer storage,  are allowable in the commercial zone.
Anything that involves treated soils is by special exception only.

"We [The Planning Department] believe there will be a reduction in the assessed value [of the property in the industrial zone] and an unequal tax burden will be placed on the residents of the community," said Daigle.

Daigle said a blanket warrant article prohibiting all industrial uses in the aquifer protection zone is not the correct way to protect the aquifer.

She said the Tri-Town Aquifer Agreement holds Belmont to high standard.

"We are upstream. We know our responsibility," she said. "For someone to demand that we severely restrict our tax base seems not very well thought out. I don't see why Belmont would so encumber itself."

Condodemetraky disagrees.

"Since they know it's over the aquifer, it seems unreasonable that they wouldn't make it an issue," he said. "We're going to potentially pollute the aquifer without a thought as to where the next water will come from."

He said that Belmont's aquifer is a drift aquifer created by a glacier, leaving a shallow area under the ground that flows from Route 107 to the Tioga River, which flows into the Merrimack River.

"It is a shallow aquifer, which is a plus for a city water supply because it doesn't cost too much to pump," he said. "All three towns benefit."

Condodemetraky agrees that nothing can be done about what's already there, but said he has long contended that the Route 106 corridor is the best place for Belmont's future industrial development.

If something should happen to the aquifer, he said, the town would be forced to put in a water treatment plant, which could bankrupt Belmont.

"I'm at the end of the line," said the 79-year-old engineer. "I would think that some young people who have kids in mind would do something [about protecting the aquifer.]"

The Planning Board is having a special public hearing to discuss the petitioned warrant article on Jan. 6 at 5 p.m. in the Corner Meeting House.

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