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Weirs zoning changes would prohibit auto sales & self storage

LACONIA — Planning Director Shanna Sauders this week presented the recommendations of the city's Zoning Task Force to redraw the boundaries and revise the uses of the Commercial Resort District to the Planning Board.

The Commercial Resort District begins on Lake Street, just south of its junction with White Oaks Road, extends northward along Weirs Boulevard, includes the center of the Weirs and runs either side of Rte. 3 to the Meredith town line. It also includes property along both sides of Route 11-B, including the former Surf Coaster property. The zoning ordinance describes the district as intended to accommodate dining, lodging and recreation entities for both occasional tourists and seasonal residents as well as apartments and condominiums.

Last fall, after the Zoning Board of Adjustment granted a special exception to operate a used car lot at the north end of the district then denied two requests to do the same in the eastern part of the district, the City Council asked the Planning Board to review the permitted uses in the district.

Saunders said that the task force recommends adding the southernmost part of the Commercial Resort District, from the Bayside Cemetery to the junction of Weirs Boulevard and White Oaks Road, to the commercial district that extends southward along Union Avenue. She explained that because many of the motels and cottages on Weirs Boulevard have been converted to condominiums, the task force recommends rezoning the eastern shore of Paugus Bay northward to the Naswa Resort from commercial resort to shorefront residential. The remaining boundaries of the district would remain unchanged.

The task force recommended changing 10 land uses in the Commercial Resort District. Accessory apartments and greenhouses, which are not permitted, would be permitted, but would require a conditional use permit.

Granted by the Planning Board, conditional use permits require that the use will not endanger public health or safety, adversely affect the value of abutting properties, is compatible with the neighborhood and nearby uses and will not impair either vehicular or pedestrian safety or natural resources.

Storage of trailers, campers and boats on residential properties, sexually oriented businesses, car washes and detailing, nightclubs and dance halls and agricultural uses, all of which are currently permitted by right, would require a special exception.

Special exceptions are granted by the ZBA, which must find the use will not create traffic congestion or impair pedestrian safety, not overburden water, sewer or drainage systems, generate excessive demand for emergency or disposal services, pose hazards to pubic health, safety and welfare, is suited to the location and consistent with the Master Plan.

Bed and breakfast establishments, which currently require a conditional use permit, would be permitted by right. Indoor self-storage, which is currently permitted, would no longer be permitted in the district. Automobile sales and service, which is permitted by special exception, would also be prohibited.

After reviewing the recommendations of the task force, the Planning Board will propose amendments to the zoning ordinance to the City Council for its approval.


Last Updated on Friday, 06 March 2015 01:18

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2 of 3 selectmen don't recommend budget but default would fund Year-Round Library in Gilmanton

GILMANTON — It looks like SB-2, also known as the Official Ballot Act, may come back to haunt its supporters this year because of a deliberative session change made to Warrant Article 7 — the 2015 appropriation for town government.

During the SB-2 deliberative session last month, Selectman Brett Currier made a motion to increase the general operating budget from $3,434,797 to $3,458,730 — an increase of $23,933.

The increase was so every town employee could have a 3 1/2-percent raise. The budget approved by the Budget Committee and the Board of Selectmen included 3 1/2-percent raises for the two employees of the Town Clerk/Tax Collector's Office. The rest of the employees were slated to get 2 percent.

Currier said he didn't think that was fair that all employees didn't get the same raise so he made the motion on the floor to increase the budget. Though it passed by those attending the deliberative session, Currier's amendment is not supported by the majority of the selectmen, nor is it supported by the Budget Committee and wording at the bottom of the warrant article reflects that.

Should the electorate vote down the operating budget as written, a default budget of $3,515,283 will take its place. The default budget is $56,553 higher and includes last year's $52,000 voter-approved appropriation for the Gilmanton Year-Round Library. The entire Selectboard declined to recommend a $46,000 appropriation for the library this year and it will again appear on the ballot as a separate warrant article.

On the ballot, voters will find a race between Michael Jean and Scott Dunn, however Selectman Brett Currier has said that he will enter Tuesday's race for the one selectman's spot as a write-in candidate.

Currier had said earlier that he didn't wish to seek a second term, however confirmed that a group of people had approached him about taking the seat if he could prevail in a write-in campaign.

"I said I wasn't going to do any campaigning but did say that if I won, I would serve," Currier said.

Jean said he was concerned about the number of non-public sessions the current board holds, supports having an appointed road agent and supports SB-2. (Voter's will be asked to repeal use of the Official Ballot Act in their town.)

When he lived in Epping he was a selectman. He is a member of the volunteer fire department.

Dunn is a recent arrival to Gilmanton and is the Town Administrator for Gilford. He said he is also not actively campaigning for the one open seat and entered the race because nobody had entered as of 1 p.m. on the last filing day.

He acknowledges he is new in town and said he wants to be an active participant in Gilmanton.

Gilmanton voters go to the polls at the Gilmanton School this year because of the water damage done to the Town Hall when a pipe burst.

Last Updated on Friday, 06 March 2015 01:11

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New recording studio a co-op

GILFORD — With the opening of the Recording Co-Op, four musicians with a bundle of talents, breadth of vision and array of ambitions have embarked on turning a horse barn on Cherry Valley Road into a rustic echo of Tin Pan Alley.

Ryan Ordway, a well-travelled singer-songwriter, recalled the project began five years ago when he met Franz Haase, a fellow musician, owner of the Folk Cellar in Wolfeboro and mainstay of the local arts community. They opened a small recording studio — Resort Recordings — and began pursuing plans to foster what Ordway called "a community of musicians".

Last year, Ordway and Haase moved their operation to Gilford, where, together with Cameron McGonagle and Alan Loudon, they formed the nucleus of the Recording Co-Op. "It began as a private thing," Ordway said, "for our band, Ordway, and our music."

Investing more than $100,000, the four converted the barn to a recording studio, featuring a vintage mixing console acquired from Audio Magic, a studio in Buffalo, New York. Haase noted that Ani DeFranco recorded her first four albums on the console, which also laid down the voices of the Goo Goo Dolls and Willie Nelson. "It's got a history," he remarked.

With its own label — Recording Co-Op — the studio offers artists 100 hours of time in the studio and a one-percent stake in the cooperative in return for $3,500. Nearly half of the 40 available memberships have been taken. Ordway said "we're a label funded by the artists." The cooperative also stages live concerts on the first Saturday of each month at the studio, where the 40 seats sell for $15 apiece.

Meanwhile, Ordway and his partners envision the studio as the beginning of a grander undertaking. They have formed a nonprofit corporation — Lakes Region Institute for the Arts — to offer education and instruction for aspiring artists of all ages in performing and songwriting as well as audio and video engineering. Ordway said they are looking for a second venue with space for teaching and rehearsal rooms along with audio and video studios.

"It will be a like mini music school," Ordway said, explaining that half the cost of tuition would be offset by scholarships. He said the cooperative has already worked with schools in the region, including Moultonborough Academy, Inter-Lakes High School, Prospect Mountain High School, and anticipates complementing the curriculum offered by the schools with instruction in audio and video engineering. He noted that between 2011 and 2012 employment in audio and video engineering grew by 640 percent.

Ordway expects to draw on his connections in music business to nurture enterprise. He has recorded for television shows, among them "The Office" and "raising hope," and networks, including ESPN and NESN. He was selected from more than 1,000 entries to spend a week at Blackbird Studios in Nashville under the tutelage of producer Ken Scott, who has engineered the sounds of the Beatles, Elton John, David Bowie, Pink Floyd and Jeff Beck.

"It would be a real innovative thing for the music business," Ordway said, "and it's going to take a community, or several communities, to make it happen."

Last Updated on Friday, 06 March 2015 01:05

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25th Taste of the Lakes Region to be held March 22

MEREDITH — The 25th annual Taste of the Lakes Region will be held from 4-7 p.m. at Church Landing in Meredith on Sunday, March 22, and will feature 20 of the Lakes Region finest restaurants serving up samples of their culinary specialties for the benefit of the Laconia Altrusa Club's community projects.

The event has raised nearly $300,000 for the Altrusa Club's efforts in promoting literacy and scholarships over the years and has raised the awareness of folks in the Lakes Region of the fine quality and variety of offerings of the area's restaurants.

''We're looking forward to fine weather and a big turnout at what has become the most popular culinary event in the Lakes Region,'' says Deanne Murphy, president of the Laconia Altrusa Club.

Taking part in this year's event are Contiagiani's Catering Service, Fratello's Italian Grille, the Homestead, Hermit Woods Winery, Camp, T-Bones, Cactus Jack's, the Hilltop Restaurant at the Steele Hill Resort, Patrick's Pub and Eatery, Ellacoya Barn & Grille, Holy Grail Food and Spirits, Lago, the Lakehouse Grille, Giuseppe's Pizzeria & Ristorante, Canoe, O Steaks and Seafood, Hart's Turkey Farm Restaurant, Annie's Cafe and Catering, Lavinia's, the Local Eatery, Hector's Fine Food & Spirits and the Woodlands Tavern.

Tickets cost $25 per person and can be purchased at Hart's Turkey Farm in Meredith or in Laconia at Hector's or at the Coldwell-Banker Residential Brokerage. Because there is a cash bar at the event, no one younger than 21 will be admitted.

Altrusa's Taste of Lakes Region cookbook will also be for sale for $15 at the event. This 176 page hardcover book that was published in 2012 featuring recipes from local restaurants and community members. It can also be purchased online from Altrusa of Laconia's website www.altrusalaconia.com

Sponsors include the Laconia Altrusa Club, radio stations 93.3 the Wolf, 98.3 LNH, WEMJ AM 1490 and the Laconia Daily Sun.

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 March 2015 12:38

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