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296 storage units planned for prime Weirs Beach land

LACONIA — When the Planning Board meets in March it will conduct a design review of a proposal by the A,E. Mitchell, Corporation of Belmont, a general contractor and property developer, to build a large self-storage facility at Weirs Beach.

The company proposes to build on the 6.8-acre lot on the north side of Endicott Street North (Rte. 3) across the highway from the Meredith Bridge condominium community and next door to the Cumberland Farms convenience store. The land, which was cleared several years ago, backs up to the N.H. Veteran's Association compound that fronts on Lakeside Ave.

As proposed, the facility would consist of 296 storage units divided among 17 buildings. It would include a two-story office building, constructed to a colonial design, facing Rte. 3. The south, east and west borders of the site would be ringed by trees.

The company owns and operates a self-storage facility in Belmont at 393 Laconia Road (Rte. 106), which was built within the last decade. Al Mitchell, principal of the corporation, has contemplated building a similar facility at Weirs Beach for several years, but has been encouraged by Planning Director Shanna Saunders to put the property to a higher and better use more in keeping with the character of the Weirs as a resort area.

Meanwhile, in 2007, a team of consultants sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency, recommended refining the zoning at The Weirs, most of which lies within the commercial resort district, to foster development consistent with a waterfront community catering to seasonal homeowners and visiting tourists. The Zoning Task Force has begun reconsidering the uses permitted and prohibited in the commercial resort district.

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 February 2015 01:20

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LSD soliciting professional help with analyzing needs of high school building

LACONIA — Representatives of a half dozen architectural and engineering firms toured Laconia High School yesterday afternoon as part of the first phase of developing a Facility Master Plan for the school.
Business Administrator Ed Emond told the School Board last night that the district is looking at completing a condition assessment of the high school before developing a master plan. The last time the district conducted a facility study was in 2000.
''We reviewed the projects from the last two years with the firms who made the tour and talked with them about some of the issues we'd like to see addressed,'' said Emond.
He said that the proposals from the firms must be submitted by Monday, February 9 at 1 p.m. and that the board's Facilities/CIP Committee will meet next Tuesday night to review the proposals.
Last night the school board approved a budget transfer of $25,000 to pay for the building assessment.
The condition assessment will look at the 173,000-square-foot LHS building and the adjoining Huot Technical Center facilities but not at the free standing building was built in 2013 which houses Huot Center programs and the Meredith Village Savings Bank culinary center.
It was noted that the high school building does have an elevator and that an assessment of the elevator condition should be included.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 February 2015 02:49

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Only a few handfuls of residents attend Gilford SB-2 session

GILFORD — About 15 people, excluding department heads, Budget Committee members and selectmen attended last night's annual SB-2 deliberative session of Town Meeting at the High School.

Those who did show up, had very little to say about the money articles and all of them will go on the March 10 ballot as written.

This was the only time voters could alter any of the warrant articles.

The next step is for voters to have their final say in the privacy of a voting booth on 26 different warrant articles that fund the general operating budget and about $500,000 in proposed additions to capital reserve funds, which comes to a total of $12,334,000.

The capital funds are either maintenance or capital purchases and include recreation facilities, sewer maintenance, fire equipment, the town water supply, the Glendale boat launch ramp, building maintenance and a dump truck with a plow for the Public Works Department.

All were supported by selectmen and the Budget Committee.

Individuals spoke about supporting the so-called "outside agencies" that include Genesis Behavioral Health, Child and Family Services, the Laconia Area Center of the Community Action Program, New Beginnings and Central New Hampshire VNA & Hospice.

Traditionally, even though all of these programs have been overwhelmingly financially supported by voters, the selectmen chose not to endorse the request for appropriations, saying it was up to the voters to make their own decisions.

Selectman John O'Brien spoke in support of his petitioned warrant article banning personal fireworks, as did Pam Hayes who is running for School Board.

O'Brien objects to them because of noise, fires, and personal safety issues, as does Hayes.

Speaking against a ban on fireworks was Budget Committee member Kevin Leandro, Budget Committee candidate Harry H. Bean III, and Selectman Gus Benevides who is a long-time opponent of a ban.

Supporters said they are legal in the state and the ordinance in place specifies times when fireworks can't be used.
"Why don't you punish them (people who break the rules) instead of punishing the rest of us," said Bean who wants the irresponsible users to be fined and chastized.

Benevides noted that the ban is impossible to enforce on the islands and to have an ordinance that covers only a part of Gilford is unacceptable.

Voters go to the polls on March 10.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 February 2015 02:20

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Laconia city manager an advocate for giving municipalities fairer shot at arguing with utilities over property tax bills

CONCORD — Imagine if property taxpayers challenging the assessment of their home, were denied not only access to the appraisal of their property but also forbidden to question the appraiser. Yet this where municipalities find themselves when public utilities question the value placed on their property by cities and towns.

Last week the N.H. House Municipal and County Government Committee considered legislation to address the issue.

Property owned by utilities is liable to local property taxes as well as the state utility tax, which is levied at a rate of $6.60 per $1,000 of the assessed value of utility property. The New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration (DRA) assesses the value of utility property to administer the state utility tax. Some municipalities, including Laconia, apply the DRA's assessment, but according to the New Hampshire Municipal Association, most cities and towns perform their own appraisals.

Utilities frequently appeal their assessments with the Board of Tax and Land Appeals (BTLA), citing the values calculated by the DRA, which usually fall below the assessments performed locally. But, the DRA is not permitted to disclose its appraisals to municipal officials, Nor are officials of the DRA willing to be questioned about their appraisals. In short, municipalities are left to dispute the valuations of utility property with no information about how they were calculated.

Laconia City Manager Scott Myers said that without the DRA's appraisals municipalities must choose between the costs of commissioning an independent appraisal and negotiating a settlement with the utilities.

House Bill 192, sponsored by Representatives James Coffey (R-New Ipswich), Clyde Carson (D-Warner) and David Karrick (D-Warner) would address the problem by prohibiting either utilities or municipalities from invoking the DRA's assessment in any proceedings appealing the tax on utility property.

The bill is supported by the New Hampshire Municipal Association, of which Myers is vice-chairman.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 February 2015 02:01

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