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City's Zoning Task Force alarmed by misinformation about medical pot dispensaries

LACONIA — Members of the city's Zoning Task Force say that there is a lot of misinformation being circulated regarding a proposed ordinance to regulate the location of a medical marijuana dispensary in the city.
''I've seen blogs with a lot of misinformation. It's very misleading. We're not trying to attract marijuana businesses,'' city Planner Shanna Saunders told members of the task force when they met Thursday morning at City Hall.
She said that the city actually has no say on whether a dispensary will be located in the city and that the proposed ordinance needs to be moved quickly before a state approved facilities become grandfathered.
''People should be happy we're doing this. We're not trying to attract a dispensary. We're trying to allow people of the city to decide where it should be located,'' said Planning Board Chairman Warren Hutchins, a member of the task force.
He said that it would be important for Saunders to give a presentation at the start of public hearing by the Planning Board and Zoning Task Force on the proposed ordinance on Wednesday, Feb. 11 at City Hall which begins at 6:30 p.m. in order to dispel misconceptions by pointing out that there is no application for a dispensary coming before the city.
The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to operate Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs) in four geographic zones, one of which consists of Belknap, Strafford and Rockingham counties in accordance with a statute authorizing the use of the drug to treat a specified number of medical conditions. Each ATC would be licensed to dispense and cultivate marijuana, as well as process the plant into edible products. With the support of DHHS, legislation (Senate Bill 22) has been introduced that would enable each licensed dispensary, with the approval of the department, to operate one satellite facility, which could only dispense, not cultivate or process, marijuana.
DHHS has issued 70 pages of rules regulating the ownership and operation of the facilities, but where and when such a facility could operate are questions for the city to address.
Saunders has suggested that rather than propose different regulations for dispensing, cultivating and processing, that the same regulation apply to all three.
She recommended that ATCs be confined to the Industrial Park, Industrial and Airport Industrial districts and prohibited elsewhere. The Industrial Park District refers to the O'Shea Industrial Park on Lexington Drive. There are three Industrial Districts in downtown, two beyond the south end and another near the north end of Union Avenue. The Airport Industrial District lies east of White Oaks Road and borders the Gilford town line. ATCs would be prohibited in residential districts and within 1,000 feet of schools, daycare centers and places of worship. The dispensaries would be allowed to operate between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Eric Borrin of DHHS said that the department received 14 applications to operate ATCs before the period for responding to the request for proposals closed last week. He said that at least one application has been received for each of the four geographic areas, but declined to specify how many applications were submitted for each area. The RFP prescribes that the applications — and the identity of the applicants — will remain confidential until 10 days after the successful applicants have been notified.

Last Updated on Saturday, 07 February 2015 01:38

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Marine Patrol unveils detailed plans for new headquarters building at Glendale

GILFORD — Plans for the construction of the new headquarters of the New Hampshire Marine Patrol, which will be built on the site of the existing facility at Glendale, were unveiled this week.

Designed by Samyn-D'Elia Architects of Ashland, the 32,239-square-foot facility will be built on the 0.92-acre lot where the headquarters have stood since 1962 and on a footprint, which in order to meet setback requirements and accommodate existing infrastructure closely matches that of the original structure.
The new building will be adjoined by an abutting 1.4-acre lot, purchased by the state in December, which will provide parking for 80 vehicles.

Captain Tim Dunleavy of Marine Patrol told a small gathering at the current headquarters on Thursday nigh that the building must house the administrative and enforcement functions of the agency as well as a facility to maintain and repair its fleet. At the same time, the building must serve boat owners seeking to register their vessels and attend boater education classes.

The two-story headquarters will face the Glendale parking area. The administrative offices, including an area where boat owners can register their vessels, will occupy will be on the first floor and the enforcement personnel square feet on the second, along with a classroom, with capacity for 60 students. Taken together administration and enforcement will occupy 19,490-square-feet of the building.

The single largest spaces in the building — altogether 12,749-square-feet — are designed for the storage and repair of boats. The existing dock will be reconfigured. There will be a basin added within the building to enable officers to bring persons in custody as well as vessels to be stored or repaired directly into the building. Boats will be stored in the middle of the building and repaired on the east side of the building in space large enough to house a crane to move them about. Dunleavy noted that the building will serve as principal repair facility for the agency's entire fleet.

Along with construction of the building, the stormwater management system at the site will be improved. The site will be ringed by grassed swales and a landscaped buffer to retain stormwater from neighboring properties. Additional drainage and catch basins to capture and cleanse run-off before it reaches the lake.

"We want to be good neighbors," Dunleavy stressed, adding that every effort will be made to minimize the impact of the project on the neighborhood. He assured abutters that once the work is finished the agency would no longer need to store impounded vessels, damaged buoys and other material outdoors, which will enhance the appearance of the site.

The Legislature appropriated $9,379,313 for the project in the 2013-2015 capital budget. In addition, $1,348,000 from the Navigation Safety Fund, accrued from boat registration fees, was applied to the purchase of the abutting lot at 17 Dock Road where Glendale Marine operates.

Harvey Construction Corporation of Bedford will be the general contractor for the project. Gary Brown of the state Bureau of Public Works said he expected work to begin in June or July, after the state takes possession of the abutting property, with the demolition of the existing headquarters and the building next door and be completed within a year.

During construction Marine Patrol will operate from the building on the former Laconia State School campus that last housed the Lakes Region Community Services Council.

The existing building was originally built to store boats in the late 1950s and acquired by the state to house Marine Patrol in 1962. An assessment of the building in 2009 found that '''the building is experiencing settlement in several different directions." The main floor began subsiding after a drain was rerouted in 1990 and the soils settled, undermining the slab. An addition on the north side of the building continues to settle while sheet piles were driven in the 1980s to arrest settlement on the northwest side of the building. Settlement of the footings has caused the wood-framed addition on the second floor to slope toward the lake, hindering use of the office space.
The roofs fall short of snow-load requirements. The building is not accessible to the handicapped and is not sufficiently structurally sound to accommodate an elevator. Three different systems, burning two different fuels, heat the building. All are inefficient and have no control system. The building is without mechanical ventilation. Although meeting current needs, the electrical system cannot support an expansion. The drainage system poses a risk to water quality.

CAPTION: Designed by Samyn-D'Elia Architects of Ashland, the new headquarters of the New Hampshire Marine Patrol is expected to grace the waterfront at Glendale before the close of the 2016 boating season. (Courtesy Samyn-D'Elia Architects)

Last Updated on Saturday, 07 February 2015 01:32

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Police say Laconia man arrested for 23 grams of heroin in his home

LACONIA — Police arrested a Howard Street man at 8:40 a.m. yesterday and charged him with one count of possession of heroin with intent to distribute.

Michael Grenier, 33, of 31B Howard St. was ordered held on $50,000 cash only bail after a brief appearance in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division yesterday afternoon.

Grenier's video appearance was short and Laconia Police had not yet completed arrest affidavits for the court and Grenier's defense team. The warrant for the search of Grenier's apartment has been sealed from public view at the request of police.

Grenier's public defender retained the right to argue his bail at a later date, when she will have more information.

In his brief statement to the court, Laconia Prosecutor Jim Sawyer said that police found about 23 grams (.081 ounces) of heroin during the search of his apartment. He also said Grenier was on parole but declined to say why. Laconia Police and members of the state probation and parole department also declined to answer any additional questions.

A city detective and two officers from the N.H. Department of Probation and Parole attended the hearing in the event they were needed to support the prosecution's request for high cash bail.

Judge Jim Carroll said he had read the search warrant affidavit and had enough information from it to hold Grenier on $50,000 cash bail without hearing the state's position.

Information obtained from the Belknap County Superior Court and the courts call center indicate Grenier is a conviction habitual (traffic violation) offender and was sentenced to the N.H. State Prison in 2013.

In 2005, according to records at the Belknap County Superior Court, Grenier was convicted of disobeying a police officer, driving while intoxicated, arson, and being convicted of driving after being deemed a habitual offender.

More recently, the Eagle Tribune wrote on January 23 that Grenier and Jennifer Flynt, 30, of 31B Howard St. in Laconia were arrested in December by Lawrence, Mass. police, who said they came to the city to purchase heroin.

Along with Agustin Carcano and Wayne Bello of Manchester, N.H. all four were charged for trafficking in more than 100 grams of heroin. A spokeswoman for the Essex County District Attorney told The Eagle Tribune the charges against Grenier and Flynt were dismissed.

Neighbors along the usually quiet street that runs parallel to Church Street said yesterday afternoon that they believed different branches of a single family live in the robin's egg blue house at 31 Howard St.

A neighborhood man, who works second shift, said a marked police car and two unmarked cars were in front of the home for about four or five hours yesterday morning and that police kept coming and going from the home.

A probable cause hearing in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Divison will be scheduled within the next two weeks.

Last Updated on Saturday, 07 February 2015 01:22

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Proposal to allow boat storage in Weirs residential areas before council

LACONIA — Peter Morrissette of Gilford, one of the partners of REM Real Estate, LLC which acquired St. Helena Mission Church at The Weirs in December, has asked the City Council to request the Planning Board to consider adding "watercraft long-term storage" and "indoor storage" to the permitted uses in the Shorefront Residential District, where the property is located.

Morrissette confirmed yesterday that he is seeking to use the former church property, a 3.38-acre at 326 Endicott Street East (Rte. 11-B), for boat storage. He said that the perimeter of the property would be fenced and screened and the storage space offered first to the immediate neighbors. Morrissette explained that his property would provide residents of the Pendleton Beach and Governor's Crossing neighborhoods an alternative to storing their boats in their yards.

City Councilor Armand Bolduc (Ward 6) placed the matter on the agenda of the City Council meeting to be held on Monday, February 9 beginning at 7 p.m. Bolduc said yesterday that he acted at the request of Morrissette and his attorney, former mayor Paul Fitzgerald. "The council will discuss the issue and ask questions," he said. "I don't know what the council will do. It may not go anywhere."

City Manager Scott Myers said that the City Council has no authority to enact changes to the zoning ordinance, but must refer suggested changes to the Planning Board. However, he said that he was seeking advice of legal counsel to determine whether if the Planning Board rejects a recommendation of the City Council, the council can override the decision of the planners.

The zoning ordinance specifies that the Shorefront Residential District is "designed to recognize the unique characteristics of the residential community associated with Lake Winnipesaukee and Weirs Beach." Two areas of The Weirs lie within the district. One stretches eastward along the north side of Endicott Street East from the Weirs Community Park to the Gilford town line. The other runs northward along the lakefront from just beyond the junction of Lakeside Avenue and Centenary Avenue to the Meredith town line and includes most, but not all, of the residential properties at Meredith Bay while excluding the commercial properties along Endicott Street North (Rte. 3).

When REM Real Estate, LLC purchased the St. Helena Mission Church property for $185,000, Morrissette said that the partners had no specific plans for the property, but intended to explore its potential for the residential development. He said that the zoning ordinance would allow for six single family homes or 20 condominium units to be built on the lot.

Last Updated on Saturday, 07 February 2015 01:19

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