VNA & Hospice is latest beneficiary of Paugus Bzay Marina golf tournaments

LACONIA — Paugus Bay Marina's 4th annual charity golf tournament, which was held at Laconia Country Club on August 31, raised $16,000 for Central New Hampshire VNA and Hospice.
It brought the total raised in golf tournaments sponsored by the business over the last four years to $56,000.
"We decided to hold our first tournament in 2012 as a way of thanking the Laconia Fire Department for the great job they did in putting out a fire on Memorial Day that year that could have destroyed the entire marina,'' says Paugus Bay owner Kevin Keenan.
That tournament was held at Lochmere Country Club and raised $10,000, according to Laurie Fox, general manager of the marina.
Since then the Paugus Bay Marina tournaments have been held at Laconia Country Club and raised $15,000 for the Laconia Police Department in 2013 and $15,000 for Lakes Region Disabled Sports last year.
This year it was the loss of their mothers by both Keenan and Fox that led to the decision to support Central New Hampshire VNA and Hospice.
''We both lost our mothers around the same time and both them were taken care of by hospice workers in the final stages. The hospice volunteers were such a big help to our families that we wanted to show our support for this great organization,'' said Keenan.
He expressed special gratitude to Fox, whom he said goes above and beyond to help make the golf tournaments successful.
Fox said that there is a core group of supporters who help her with the tournaments and thanked Linda Knott and Kendra Deal of LPL Financial for their support.
The Bank of New Hampshire and Meredith Village Savings Bank are major sponsors for the tournament, according to Fox.

CAPTION for cut slugged hospice check

Paugus Bay Marina's 4th annual charity golf tournament which was held at Laconia Country Club on August 31 raised $16,000 for Central New Hampshire VNA and Hospice. Shown at check presentation are Kevin Keenan, Paugus Bay Marine owner; Kory Keenan, marina manager; Laurie Fox, general manger of the marina; Kendra Deal of LPL Financial, a sponsor of the tournament; Margaret Franckhauser, executive director of Central New Hampshire VNA and Hospice; Linda Knott, owner of LPL Financial; and Rita Pascoe and Bill Schwidder, members of the the board of directors of Central New Hampshire VNA and Hospice. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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'OLT': downtown merchant encouraging others to stay open a little later on Thursdays

LACONIA — The aqua-blue signs bearing the letters "O, L, T" displayed in the windows of some downtown businesses do not signal "out to lunch," but instead announce "open late Thursday".

Jeanne Compton of New England Porch Rockers created the signs to encourage her fellow downtown merchants to remain open until 6 p.m. on Thursday evenings. She explained that the Laconia Main Street Outdoor Marketplace operates on Thursdays between 3 and 6 p.m. and a number of downtown retailers chose to follow suit. But, since there will be no outdoor market after the end of September. Compton is concerned that many will revert to their earlier closing time. "The goal is for all of us to stay open till six and make Laconia a bustling place," she said.

John Moriarty , president of the Main Street Initiative, acknowledged that Compton has a point. He said that 80 percent of all retail shopping occurs after 5 p.m.. "We are aware of Jean's initiative and are supportive," he said.

However, Moriarty noted that many shops are open until 5:30 p.m. and the extra half-hour yields marginal returns. He suggested that many patrons of stores downtown shop earlier in the day, often during their lunch hour. Around the loop described by Beacon Street East, Veterans Square and Beacon Street West, he counted some 300 offices and businesses. And the radius of the loop measures approximately 250 footsteps.

"Downtown is very compact," Moriarty said, explaining that foot traffic is heaviest when people are at work and during the lunch hour. While applauding Compton's initiative, he considered it "premature", suggesting that when the Colonial Theatre reopens more people will be drawn downtown to performances and restaurants during the evening hours, which may prompt merchants to keep later hours.

In the meantime, Compton will encourage her counterparts to display her sign and she has an ally in Charlie St. Clair of the Laconia Antique Center, which is always open until 6 p.m. "I don't understand how they think people are going to shop when they're leaving work when they're closing up," he remarked.

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Gilford tells Beans & Greens to halt 'agri-tourism' events

GILFORD — An appeal of a cease and desist order from the town stopping Andy and Martina Howe from hosting agri-tourism events like weddings and graduations on their property on Gunstock Hill Road was tabled last night at the Zoning Board of Adjustments meeting until next Tuesday night.

The appeal was tabled because the ZBA has five regular members and one alternate member, including Andy Howe and Steve Nix, who had to recuse themselves. Two of the other members were absent meaning only two members were left and that was not a quorum.

Following last night's meeting, Town Administrator Scott Dunn said the selectmen are ready to appoint a second person to the ZBA as an alternate. With two alternate and three permanent board members, if every member comes to the September 29 meeting, there should be a full board to hear Howe's appeal, even with the two recusals.

The Howe's own Beans and Greens, which is a family farm and farm stand that operates from a commercial zone on Intervale Road in what's called the "meadows" portion of Gilford.

What predicated last night's attempted appeal to the ZBA was a cease and desist order sent from the town's code enforcement officer to the Howes ordering them to stop hosting weddings and other similar events on their Gunstock Hill Road property.

In a telephone interview yesterday morning, Howe explained that for years Beans and Greens has been hosting "farm to table" dinners and increasing the number of agri-tourism events that are farming-related. He said those types of events include parties for graduation, weddings, and the annual corn maze.

He said the idea for celebrations and private parties came from people who attended the "farm to table" dinners and told him they wanted something that involved local-only farming for their personal celebrations.

The events were being done on the Howe's property at Gunstock Hill Road where they pitched a tent. The property is in current use and is protected by a conservation easement, but Howe said he checked with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire's Forests and was told that even though the land was in conservation, as long as the food being served came from the farm, then it was agriculture by definition.

Howe said he also checked with the town's planning director who he said told him something similar to what he was told from the Forest Society.

"Our operation was based on an understanding that we can (host these types of events)", Howe said.

According to the town's tax maps, 263 Gunstock Hill Road, lot number 225-002.100 is in a single-family residential zone with a conservation overlay.

Howe's lawyer Patrick Wood said last night that agriculture is permitted in all of Gilford's zones.

Howe said that the events are planned for June, July, August and September of 2016 and eight events have been scheduled and deposits have been taken. Howe said all of the events will feature food grown and harvested at his farm.

He said he had a few events this year but when a neighbor complained to the town that what they were doing was not agriculture-related, the town attorney was called for an opinion.

Howe said attorney Robert Maher based his advice to the town on an opinion issued by the N.H. Supreme Court in June of 2015 about a similar operation in Henniker, that said "weddings and like events are not accessory uses" to a farm and that hosting these events in (Henniker) is not a permitted use. Wood decline to comment on the Henniker decision saying only that the two communities have "very different zoning ordinances."

Maher suggested that the Howes may also need a variance for "agri-tourism."

Wood said he doesn't think a variance is necessary but is preparing for one as well as a site plan for the Planning Board to approve.

In the Henniker case the Supreme Court upheld a decision made by a lower court that a tree farmer couldn't host agri-tourism activities because the term "agri-tourism" doesn't appear in state law. They ruled 4 to 1 that the petitioners statements that the N.H. Legislature meant to require it in it's definition of agriculture were unsupported by the evidence.

A second argument made by the petitioner said that his proposals for agri-tourism were an accessory use under Henniker's ordinances. The court ruled that Henniker's ordinances defined accessory use as one that is subordinate and incidental to the main use of the same lot and not a long-standing practice in that zone. As such, the court said the petitioner failed to present evidence the accessory use of agri-toursim was "'commonly, habitually, and by long practice been established as reasonably associated with the primary...use' in the local area."

Howe told The Daily Sun that if agri-toursim can't continue for him and his wife, his livelihood is at stake. He said people paid deposits to him and made hotel and other reservations in the area and if he is forced to return those deposits and make people change their venues at the last minute, it could put his entire farming operation at financial risk.

"This is just a nightmare mess," Howe said.

He said he and Martina filed a request two weeks ago with the town to allow the eight contracts that were already signed but said he hasn't gotten any response.

Howe went on to say that agri-trourism in New Hampshire is what allows many local farms to stay afloat financially and that farming alone these days just isn't enough.

"This is what sustains us. These activities are what sustain us," he said.


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