Gilmanton officials debate rule over bathroom additions

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILMANTON —If a home already has a bathroom, can another be added without a septic evaluation? The words "where none exists" have taken on a special meaning for the selectmen who challenged the town land use technician's interpretation of a 2015 zoning ordinance in just such a situation.

According to land use technician Annette Andreozzi, her interpretation of Article III A means that where a bathroom doesn't already exist, a person who wants to add one shall have a septic evaluation by a state certified examiner.

According to Selectman and Board Chairman Michael Jean, Article III A means a septic evaluation shall be done only in the instance where the first bathroom is being added to the structure, not additional ones.

The line at issue reads "Any structure that is being improved by adding a bathroom where none exists, adding a bedroom or whenever a structure is being converted from a seasonal to a permanent use, shall have the existing septic system evaluated..."

The fireworks began earlier this month when Andreozzi and the building inspector denied an unidentified homeowner's request to add a bathroom to an existing house. Andreozzi said she denied the request because of some other rulings on the subject made by the ZBA.

The homeowner was told he could appeal her ruling to the Zoning Board of Adjustments but apparently decided to go through former selectmen and excavating contractor Brett Currier to get the board of selectmen involved to expedite the matter.

In a meeting that was initially slated for a nonpublic session but Andreozzi requested it be open to the public, Jean told her that he "just wanted to make sure the laws are applied properly" and said the board took up the matter because there was a complaint.

Jean interprets the ordinance to mean that as long as there is a bathroom in the house, a second can be added. He said it's the number of bedrooms that decide whether or not a septic system evaluation should be completed.

When Andreozzi asked him directly if he was ordering her to reverse her decision, Jean hedged a bit and allowed for some public input that included many people, including Currier and Planning Board member Roy Buttrick saying that she miss-interpreted the plain language of the law and she should reverse her decision.

But former ZBA member and land attorney Carolyn Baldwin told selectmen were out of their jurisdiction. She, as well as current ZBA chairman Betty Hackett, cited N.H. RSA 677:33 that states the ZBA is the body that will "hear and decide appeals if it is alleged there is error in any order, requirement, decision, or determination made by an administrative official in the enforcement of any zoning ordinance adopted pursuant to RSA 674:16."

ZBA member Perry Onion said the state deliberately set up a system.

"If you can make a decision about this, you can make any decision," he said.

Selectman Marshall Bishop said he felt the ZBA should be the one to make the decision.

"We have a ZBA for a reason," he said.

The board decided by consensus to have the town administrator call the town attorney for an opinion on which board has jurisdiction.

Since it is too late for posting any new items onto this month's ZBA meeting, should the town attorney determine the homeowner needs to go to the Zoning Board, the earliest it could happen is the May meeting.

Volunteers thanked for giving nearly 5,000 hours to NH Veterans Home

By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

TILTON — Volunteers, who play a key role in maintaining morale and providing a link to the outside world for the 200 or so residents of the New Hampshire Veterans Home here, were honored at a special luncheon held in their honor at the home's Town Hall Wednesday.
Lisa Punderson, volunteer coordinator for the home, said that more than 90 people volunteered last year at the home and contributed 4,929 hours, which, based on a $23.07 per hour estimate on the value of volunteer work, amounted to a $113,717 contribution.
The most volunteer hours in a single day was 178 during a Cruise Night event, which brought dozens of classic cars to the home and is one of the favorite events for residents, rekindling memories of the hot rods and heavily chromed cars that many grew up admiring.
Punderson noted that volunteers who were being honored played many roles at the home, from bingo callers and clergy to outside trip assistants, a librarian and even a cribbage player, all of whom have contributed their special talents to help provide care and comfort for those who have served their country.
Among the volunteers are Steve and Carol Hankard of Hebron, who have been coming to the home every Tuesday for more than 10 years.
"We feel like its an honor to come here and spend time with the veterans. It's the highlight of our week," said Steve Hankard, a retired police officer from Hartford, Connecticut, who served six years with the Connecticut National Guard.
Carol Hankard, a retired nurse, said their son, Stephen, is the police chief in Sanbornton and that their daughter will soon be teaching at Newfound Regional High School in Bristol.
Veterans Home Commandant Margaret Labrecque said the volunteers add a great deal to the quality of life for the residents of the home and that their contributions of time and effort are invaluable.
"We have over 100 residents ranging in age from a man, 58, from the Vietnam War, to one who is 103, from World War II,'' says Labrecque, the first-ever female commandant of the home.
Residents of the home say they enjoy seeing the volunteers on a regular basis.
"They add a lot of enjoyment and companionship to the home,'' said Bill Bertholet, president of the resident council, who has been a resident of the home for two years. "They keep track of all of us and do a wonderful job."
Bertholet, whose wife, Paula, is originally from the Lakes Region, said he grew up in California but moved to New Hampshire after they were married and hasn't ever regretted it.

"I've lived all over the world but haven't found a better place than New Hampshire," said Bertholet, who lived in Gilford for 28 years before moving to the home.
He said his wife is also a volunteer at the home and enjoys working with the residents.
For more than a century, the New Hampshire Veterans Home has been a home and a health resource for Granite State armed forces veterans. Established in 1890 as the Soldier's Home for Civil War Veterans, it has provided care and comfort for thousands who have served their country.

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Steve and Carol Hankard of Hebron have been serving as volunteers at the New Hampshire Veterans Home in Tilton for over 10 years and say that the highlight of the week for them is there is their Tuesday visit to the home. He is a retired police officer from Hartford, Conn., and she is a retired nurse. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Wolfeboro home saved from fire, no injuries

WOLFEBORO — No one was injured and a home was saved from a garage fire Tuesday.
Wolfeboro Fire-Rescue was alerted to the blaze at the Michael Hanson residence at 79 Waumbeck Road by a passerby. No one was home at the time. First-arriving crews found fire in the garage.
"Crews were able to make a quick knockdown," said Wolfeboro Fire-Rescue Chief Butch Morrill. "Fire damage was confined to the garage with some smoke damage through the rest of the home."
The fire was declared under control within an hour.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation but was accidental in nature.