St. Helena lot may now be used for apartments rather than single-family homes


LACONIA — Plans for redeveloping the lot at The Weirs where St. Helena's Mission Church once stood will likely change following the refusal of the Planning Board this week to grant the developer a waiver from the requirement to construct sidewalk along one side of the property.

Peter Morrissette, the principal of PEM Real Estate LLC, acquired the property on Endicott Street East in 2014 and, in partnership with his brother Kevin proposed to divide the 2.9-acre parcel into seven house lots ranging in size from 14,536 square feet to 22,416 square feet, all served by municipal utilities. He anticipated that the single-family homes would be priced around $250,000.
When Kevin Morrissette presented the project to the Planning Board, he readily agreed to construct 450 linear feet of sidewalk along Pendleton Road, which borders the lot to the west. However, he asked to the board to waive the requirement to build 300 linear feet of sidewalk along the frontage on Endicott Street East (NH Route 11B), where he said the cost would be excessive because of the terrain and topography and the need for a sidewalk is not pressing.
Luke Powell, assistant director of Public Works, said cost of constructing sidewalks varies, depending on the conditions of particular sites as well as the need for curbing and drainage. He said the cost has ranged from as little as $30 per linear foot to as much as $78 per linear foot.
After the board denied the waiver, Morrissette said that instead of building seven single-family homes he would propose constructing 17 apartments, the maximum number of dwelling units permitted by the zoning ordinance, divided among several buildings. The greater density would enable the cost of installing the sidewalk to be spread over more units.
The property is surrounded by a 30-acre tract where the Planning Board has approved a cluster subdivision, which includes four waterfront lots.
Peter Morrissette purchased the property from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester for $185,000, well below the asking price of $349,000, after the property had been listed for about a year. The Roman Catholic Bishop of Manchester, the prior owner of the property, limited its future use by placing permanent restrictions on the deed that run with the land. Without the authorization of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Manchester, the property cannot be used as a place of worship or for any purpose "inconsistent with the faith and morals of the Roman Catholic Church."
Originally Morrissette proposed using the church as a storage facility and applied to the Zoning Board of Adjustment for the necessary variance. However, he withdrew his request in the face of bitter opposition from residents of Pendleton Beach Road and Boathouse Road.

Community education - International students learning more than how to make coffee at Dunkin' Donuts (450)


LACONIA — Behind the counter of the Dunkin' Donuts on South Main Street, customers will find group of international college students working to perfect their English, as well as their iced coffee.

This summer, students from the Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, China, Turkey and Thailand were granted the opportunity to work at local Dunkin' Donuts through the nonprofit organization Council on International Educational Exchange Work and Travel USA program. The partnership between the council and the Work and Travel USA program began in 1969, and since has been helping facilitate a partnership between international students and businesses in the United States during each summer season. This year, over 15,000 international students were accepted into this program and are working in stores across the nation through the J-1 visa.

The program not only helps students learn new skills in a career field, but also helps them build relationships with the local community and with each other. Living together in the new Lakes Region Community College apartment complex, students have had a chance to experience various forms of cultural exchange, which they hope will shape them into more open-minded people when they return home in the fall.

Bringing knowledge from their own fields of study, which include communications and computer science, students are constantly in an active learning environment, both at home and at work. While at Dunkin' Donuts, students have relied on the willing assistance of American workers to help them learn how to take orders, communicate with customers, and take part in active daily conversations.

07-14 Anastasiia Sudakova

"During my time here, I have improved my English, and have been able to gain confidence in myself," said Anastasiia Sudakova, a 19-year-old student from Ukraine. "This is the first time I have been away from my family, making decisions all by myself, and through this experience I feel like I can be independent when I go home."

07-14 Oksana Pak

One student hoping to return home not only with a greater understanding of herself but also the United States is 21-year-old Russian student Oksana Pak. In her home country, Pak attends university with a major in international relations, therefore she found it important to learn English and get a better understanding of American culture.

"After spending time in America, I have seen the tensions our nations feel are not between people, but are just a problem between governments," said Pak, who went on to say she hopes this experience can be used as platform to build a positive relationship between nations in the future.

07-14 Vika Abduzakhmanova

Fellow Russian colleague Vika Abduzakhmanova echoed Pak's sentiment, both saying they have felt welcomed by the local community and look forward to returning to the United States again in the future.

Gilmanton Winery works to bring outdated septic system up to code after expansion


GILMANTON — The Gilmanton Winery's expanding business has led to the need for a better septic system plan.

After being challenged publicly by some town constituents, Selectman Marshall Bishop has agreed to prepare a backup septic plan for his winery which will accommodate all of the expansions he has made throughout the past few years.

According to Richard De Seve of the Department of Environmental Services, Division of Water Supply and Pollution Control, the winery's backup septic plan expired in February.

"We find no record of a permit(s) being issued under your name for the work described above," wrote De Seve, informing him he may not be in compliance with state rules and regulations since he expanded his facility from a 24-seat restaurant and a two-bedroom home to a 40-seat restaurant, two function rooms and a 75-seat deck.

In a letter sent to Gilmanton Selectmen's Chairman Michael Jean and copied to the town administrator on Tuesday, De Seve wrote that the state had approved a 24-seat restaurant for the Gilmanton Winery and it has authorization to prepare food on site.

"We will be working with Mr. Bishop to obtain a new septic system that reflects the expansion of use since the last expansion," he said.

Bishop said Tuesday he is aware his four-year septic system plan has expired and said he has employed engineer Matthew Moore to design a new one. He said he has told the state about this and expects the new plan to be ready by the end of next week.

"Our business is getting busier and busier, and most of it is on the winery side," he said.

He said 90 percent of the cooking is done by Chef Sarah Baldwin, who cooks most things at her home and brings them to the winery. He said she keeps it warm at the restaurant and occasionally prepares food that must be cooked just before it is served.

He said when they started cooking and serving breakfast two years ago, they installed a grease trap to protect the existing septic system.

"I want to take care of everything," Bishop said. "I respect everything they do and will comply with everything they ask."