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Belmont selectmen field complaint about building permit process.

 

BELMONT – A resident complained to selectmen last night about the Planning Department and her inability to get a building permit for a temporary storage container.

Donna Cilley, who is a former selectman, said she had hoped to rent a container to help out one of her relatives who is staying with her temporarily, but was told by the rental outlet that Belmont doesn't allow temporary storage containers unless they are in commercial or industrial zones.

She said she would agree to buy one and get a building permit, but was told that it would take 18 to 21 days to get one.

Cilley said there should be different levels of building processes, and said the building inspector should be able to issue building permits more quickly.

Selectman Jon Pike said he would prefer to see homeowners rent temporary storage containers because when the rental agreement on the container expires, the company that owns it comes and gets it.

He said when many people buy what they say is a temporary storage container it often ends up staying on the property forever. He said that after two years, the container should be taxed.

Pike also told Cilley that there was nothing the selectmen could do. He said she needs to take her complaint to the Planning Board.

In other business, Pike said he was not necessarily in favor of the Department of Transportation spending $6 million dollars to improve the intersection at Seavey Road and Route 106.

"Somebody's got to have a number wrong," he said. "They can't spend $6 million dollars on a two-lane road in Belmont."

Pike said his real objection is that since the DOT told the town it qualified for a federal government highway safety program improvement, the state hasn't done any paving on that section of Route 106 and that it's falling apart.

Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin explained that the improvement project has already been designed and the only role left for selectmen is to say if the town wants it or not.

The vote on the acceptance of the project was delayed until Aug. 18 because Selectman Ron Cormier wanted to weigh in on it and he was unable to attend last night's meeting.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 August 2014 12:35

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Truck owned by Laconia School District stolen, crashed in Belmont

BELMONT – A Florida man with local ties was arrested by police early Sunday morning for allegedly stealing a pickup belonging to the Laconia School District and crashing it on Mile Hill Road.

According to complaints obtained from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division, Dennis LeFebvre, 33, of 14188 44th Court in Summerfield, Fla., was detained by Belmont Police on Dutile Road and charged with one count of receiving stolen property.

Complaints alleged LeFebvre was drunk at the time and had crashed the white 2012 Ford F-350 while on Mile Hill Road.

LeFebvre is also charged with one count of driving while intoxicated and one count of conduct after an accident for leaving the scene of the crash.

LeFebvre was ordered held on $500 cash-only bail for the felony count of receiving stolen property and $5,000 personal recognizance bail for the DWI and the leaving the scene of an accident.

As of Monday it was not known how much damage was done to the truck or if it can be repaired.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 August 2014 12:48

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Thorpes have been stewards of Lake Wicwas for 30 years

MEREDITH — Dave and Marge Thorpe, who have lived on the shore of Lake Wicwas for the past 32 years, have been awarded the John F. Morten Award in recognition of their exemplary stewardship of the lake by the New Hampshire Lakes Association.

"I'm a little surprised and quite humbled to receive the award given all the work so many other folks have done for our lakes," Dave said yesterday. The Thorpes are the first residents of Meredith to be so honored since the late State Senator Carl Johnson received the inaugural award in 2002. Describing Marge as "more excited a nature lover than I am," Dave said that "between the two of us we make a pretty good team."

Harry Vogel, executive director of the Loon Preservation Society, called the Thorpes "the eyes and ears of the lake" and was echoed by Amy Smagula of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, who remarked "I feel comfortable knowing that Lake Wicwas is in such good hands."

The Thorpes acquired property on Lake Wicwas in 1982 and became year around residents a decade later. However, by 1984 Dave had taken responsibility for managing the water level of the lake in partnership with the town Fire Chief. He explained that the lake was created the early 1930s after being logged, dammed and flooded. Dave he volunteered to care for the dam and, as an accomplished engineer and machinist, installed a gauge to measure water levels. Thirty years later he continues to consult with Dan Leonard, Superintendent of the Water Department, about managing lake levels.

In the 1990s Dave identified structural weaknesses in the dam and suggested a new dam should be constructed, which was done with assistance of the Lake Wicwas Association (LWA) in 2006. Meanwhile, he recalled wrestling with recurrent problems caused by other engineers on the lake — beavers — more than two dozen of which were trapped and resettled.

Since they arrived on the lake the Thorpes have been mainstays of the LWA. Both have served on the Water Quality Committee since 2000 and recently arranged for students of New Hampton School to conduct water testing as part of their curriculum. Marge twice served as president of the LWA and in her first term secured a grant to acquire property placed under a conservation easement to protect Hamlin Park. The Thorpes also encouraged the New Hampshire Lakes Association to station Lake Hosts on weekends to prevent the spread of invasive species to the lake.

"The lake is in good shape," Dave said, noting that "there are no invasive weeds and we fledge a loon chick virtually every year. Although proud of sharing the award with his wife, he noted that the efforts of deserving volunteers to protect and enhance "more stressed lakes" should not be overlooked.

Tom O'Brien, executive director of the New Hampshire Lakes Association, will present the award at the annual meeting of the LWA at the Wicwas Grange on Saturday, August 2, beginning at 10 a.m.

Last Updated on Friday, 01 August 2014 12:30

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Cooperative leadership to maintain quality of life at Briarcrest Estates

LACONIA — "We cannot drop below the standard set by the Mooneys," said Orry Gibbs, president of the Lakemont Cooperative, which purchased Briarcrest Estates from Mark and Ruth Mooney in April. "Our goal is is to change as little as possible and then only to make improvements. We're not taking any steps backward."

The cooperative was formed a year ago when the Mooneys accepted an offer from Hometown America Corporation to buy the manufactured housing park for $10 million. State law requires park owners to consider a matching offer from a tenants' cooperative and negotiate in good faith. The impending sale divided the tenants between those aligned with the cooperative and an apparent majority preferring commercial ownership. When the Mooneys asked the Belknap County Superior Court to sanction a sale to Hometown America, a group of tenants supported their request. However, the Mooneys ultimately chose to withdraw their suit and sell to the cooperative.

Gibbs, who straddled the fence for much of the controversy before deciding to support Mooneys, said yesterday that the tension and acrimony among tenants has largely dissipated. "There is a positive, friendly atmosphere in the park and I think the community spirit has increased," she said.

With 241 units, Briarcrest Estates is the third largest manufactured housing park in the state. Gibbs said that 173 of the 240 current households have joined the cooperative and membership is steadily rising. She said that all new tenants are required to join the cooperative.

Gibbs, who has lived at Briarcrest for the past 22 years, heads a seven member board of directors elected by the members of cooperative at its annual meeting. "We are a multi-million dollar corporation," she said, likening the role of the board to that of a large commercial enterprise.

At the same time, the cooperative operates much like a small town, with the directors analogous to the selectmen and members, or households, in aggregate acting as a town meeting. The directors, she explained oversee the management and operation of the park and, recommend introducing policies and amending bylaws to the members for their approval.

The board includes four members of the interim board initially convened by the cooperative to pursue and complete the acquisition of the park. Vice-president, Kathleeen Bateson, the administrator of Merrimack County, where she oversees an $81-million budget, brings 40 years of experience and knowledge in municipal and county government to the board. Unlike Gibbs, Bateson was among the leaders of the cooperative from the outset, but although the two began on opposite sides, they have become close colleagues and fast friends.

Bateson also chairs the Finance Committee, which includes Kevin Kelly, a retired banker. "We are fortunate to have a very competent group of directors," said Bateson, who has lived in the park for 16 years.

The cooperative engaged Foxfire Property Managment, Inc. of Concord, which manages some 1,400 residential properties in northern New England, to manage the day-to-day operations of the park. Gibbs said that Foxfire collects the rents and manages the finances, reporting to the board each each month. The firm has dedicated two of its employees to Briarcrest. In addition, personnel from the ROC (Resident Owned Communities) program of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, which assisted the cooperative in acquiring the park, provide advice and counsel. "I think we're in terrific hands," Gibbs said.

Apart from the finance committee, there are panels to consider bylaws, oversee operations, manage the community center, coordinate social activities, shepherd prospective tenants and serve the membership.

Bateson said that the annual budget is approximately $1-million, of which $677,000 represents debt service on the $10-million financing package to purchase the park. The operating budget is about $200,000 and another $60,000 is designated for capital improvements, including equipment purchases. The balance represents a project surplus. The membership unanimously endorsed the budget proposed by the board of directors.

Bateson said that the major question overshadowing the budget is the reassessment of the land value the park following the transfer of ownership, which will determine the 2014 property tax commitment. While the budget was adopted in June, the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration will not confirm the assessed value until October.

Gibbs said that the budget includes a projected rent increase of $10, which is less than the last increase set by the Mooneys. She anticipated similar increases for the next seven or eight years until the principal and interest payments diminish when the board expects to reduce or even forego an increase. "It is a minimal increase," she said, "and we intend to keep rent increases as low as possible."

Nevertheless, Gibbs said that the cooperative has "substantial financial obligations and must be run like a business. Not a cold business," she continued. "We will be attentive to the members, but we do have to make money to ensure that as costs rise, the quality of the park and our services do not change."

Last Updated on Friday, 01 August 2014 12:18

Hits: 282

 
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