BY MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — City Manager Scott Myers has advised the City Council that the sale of a patch of untended woodland on Davis Place would not affect future extension of the downtown riverwalk or restrict public access to the Winnipesaukee River while suggesting that the sale of adjacent land should be contingent on securing an easement to provide public access to the river.
The council will consider whether to declare any or all of the property under offer as surplus, which is the first step in selling city property, when it meets on Monday, Feb. 22, beginning at 7 p.m.
Harry Bean has offered to purchase 9,810 square feet of woodland straddling Jewett Brook, which adjoins the house lot he owns at 32 Davis Place. Most of this land lies within a sprawling 1.67-acre lot owned by the city that fronts on Davis Place, stretches along the north bank of the Jewett Brook to the Winnipesaukee River, and includes a sliver of land reaching from the south bank of the brook to Howard Street. Bean also seeks to acquire a strip of land, approximately 10 feet by 131 feet, along the east side of a 0.15-acre lot, also owned by the city, that lies within the larger lot, which he would attach to the other parcel then the whole parcel add to his abutting lot at 32 Davis Place.
Meanwhile, Lloyd Wylie, who owns the lot at the far end of Davis Place that houses an apartment building, has made two offers to purchase portions of the 1.67-acre lot, which abuts his property to the east and south. One offer would include the portion of the lot abutting his lot to the south and fronting the Winnipesaukee River and Jewett Brook, an area of 0.40 acres.. Alternatively, he has offered to acquire the entire lot except for the portion Bean has requested and the stretch on the south bank of Jewett Brook leading to Howard Street, an area of 1.43 acres.
Neither Bean nor Wylie intend to develop the property, but instead seek only to police what has become a dumping ground, gathering place and scene of less than desirable activity.
The Planning Board and Downtown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Advisory Board has urged the council to reject both offers and retain municipal ownership of the land. The Conservation Commission has said that no land should be sold without first placing protective easements on the properties to ensure that the natural environment is not impaired and public access to the river is not impeded.
In a memorandum, Myers told the council that Bean's proposal "will not impact any potential use future use City use for the Riverwalk or other access to the Winnipesaukee River." Nor, he continued, would the parcel qualify as a buildable lot. Myers recommended that if Bean's offer is accepted, the remainder of the 0.15-acre lot within the larger lot should be merged with it rather than left as a separate lot.
Myers reported that Bean has offered $6,500, which includes the cost surveying and conveying the property, which he estimated would net the city $1,500. He declined to comment whether this represents a fair market value, but noted that the property would be difficult to appraise. Adding the parcel to Bean's abutting lot would increase the assessed value of the property by $10,800.
Wylie, Myers explained, made a similar offer in 2014, which the council rejected. He seeks to purchase all or part of a 1.5-acre lot with approximately 200 feet of frontage on the Winnipesaukee River. Wylie does not intend to build on the property at this time, but he has not precluded the prospect of developing it in the future. Myers advised the council that the sale of any portion of the lot be accompanied by an easement ensuring public access to the river.
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