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City Councilors baffled by ZBA decision to deny used car lot on Rte. 3

LACONIA — Members of Laconia City Council said they are baffled by the failure of the Laconia Zoning Board of Adjustment to grant a special exception to John Ganong for a used car dealership on Weirs Boulevard when at least two other locations in the commercial resort zone have been selling cars.
''This is awfully frustrating for me. It's simply not fair,'' Ganong said as he spoke to the Laconia City Council last night about his situation, which he said dates back nearly two years.
He said that he wanted to change the use of his property, located at 357 Weirs Boulevard, which formerly housed his real estate agency and later Hawaiian Shaved Ice, to a used car lot with no no more than eight automobiles at any one time and no auto work done at that site.
Ganong said that he was turned down by a 3-2 vote of the ZBA on Sept. 17, 2012 even though the same board had approved a special exception for Benson Auto to operate a used car business in the same commercial resort zone across Rte. 3 near the Tamarack Drive-In earlier that year.
"They said my request was denied because it was on the shoreline of Lake Winnipesaukee and because of the view from the road. My property is not on the shoreline, it is on Rte. 3, a major road through the state. Yes, it has a view and I pay for it in my property taxes,'' said Ganong.
He said that he appealed the ruling and was granted a rehearing but again was denied by a 3-2 vote on January 22, 2013.
''I could have a porn shop, a car wash or even sell boats or have a taxi cab stand here. But they won't let me sell cars. I feel I wasn't treated fairly, like the other guy,'' said Ganong, who noted that Gulbicki's Towing, located a few hundred yards up the road from him, is a state licensed auto sales dealer and has never had to apply for a special exception.
''I'm flabbergasted that he didn't get that permit,'' said Ward 1 Councilman Armand Bolduc, who noted that Ganong had undergone a complete heart replacement several years ago and that running a used car dealership would be a good thing for him.
Ward 5 City Councilor Bob Hamel said that he couldn't understand why a dealership was approved at one end of the commercial resort zone and Ganong was denied. ''I don't know why they would make a decision like that.''
Mayor Ed Engler said that he had spoken with Ganong about the situation and noted that there was still one avenue open to Ganong, appealing the decision to Superior Court, which Engler noted was a costly option.
Ganong said he had decided not to pursue court action and was hoping that city officials might be able to help get a new hearing on his request.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 July 2014 01:39

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Would be Sanbornton armed robber pleads guilty to attempted theft

LACONIA — As part of a plea arrangement, a Sanbornton man will serve 12 months in the Belknap County House of Corrections for attempted theft by unauthorized taking.

Judge Larry Smukler sentenced Aric Camire, 31, of 522 New Hampton Road to serve one to three years in State Prison for one count of receiving stolen property – a Taurus 9 mm handgun that he had reason to believe was stolen.

All of the prison sentence was suspended.

Camire had initially been charged with one count of attempted armed robbery for allegedly going into the Sanbornton General Store at 7:55 p.m. in April 2014 wearing a black ski mask and attempting to open the cash register.

He ran out the front door when two customers entered the side door. One of the customers followed Camire and told them he ran across New Hampton Road and up a hill.

Police used a Gilford K-9 that tracked the scent to Camire's mother's home. The house was dark and no one answered the door, so police got a warrant and found two magazines for a handgun, some wet blue jeans, and a single black glove similar to that witnesses said was worn by Camire at the store.

The next day, police retraced the dog track and found a chrome Taurus 9 mm handgun with one bullet in the chamber and the magazine was missing. Police also found a white and black camouflage hat and a mask that fit the description of what witnesses said Camire was wearing that night.

In exchange for allowing him to plea to attempted theft, Camire agreed to undergo substance abuse counseling at his own expense and complete any recommendations as a condition of his probation.

He was credited with 97 days of time served and will be on probation after his release until July 23, 2017.

Camire is also eligible for work release.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 July 2014 01:34

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Meredith Sculpture Walk Committee celebrates more than 20 installations

MEREDITH — Although heavy rainfall dampened the day, more than 50 people gathered at the Chase House yesterday to celebrate the Meredith Sculpture Walk, a year-round, outdoor exhibition of two dozen juried works by New England artists placed throughout the town from the Meredith Library to Scenic Park.

The project grew from the success of the sculptures mounted in the Courtyard off Main Street by the Greater Meredith Program in 2012. In February 2013 the Sculpture Walk Committee, convened to grace public spaces in town with art for residents and visitors alike to enjoy, met for the first time. Bev Lapham, who with Sandy Sullivan chaired the committee, said, "I'm in awe of what these people accomplished."

Within a year the committee had invited some 250 sculptors across New England to submit works, from which the jury would select 24 to be exhibited. "We were the dog that chased the car," Bev Lapham said, "and we caught the car." Altogether the committee received applications from 39 different artists, who together offered 51 sculptures to be exhibited. The jury chose 24, and 23 were installed in five weeks.

Bev Lapham's wife, Liz, who is executive director of the Greater Meredith Program, recalled that a friend, after taking her grandchildren to see the sculptures, told her that her grandson said, "Number 21 is going to be a 'future installation,'" and asked, "Can we come back and see that?"

Bev Lapham explained that the project was underwritten by Meredith Village Savings Bank, Mill Falls at the Lake, Oglethorpe Fine Arts & Crafts and the Beautification Fund of the Greater Meredith Program. The town as well as private property owners provided spaces for the sculptures and the Department of Public Works installed the plinths on which the sculptures are mounted. Each sculptor received a stipend of $150 to meet the expenses of transporting and displaying their works.

Bev Lapham said that sculptures are on loan for between 15 and 18 months and that a fresh "call to artists" will be made this fall or winter. "The contracts are staggered," he said, explaining that five or six of the pieces will be rotated. "We got a really good response our first year," he continued. "Artists talk to each other and with the success we've had, it will be easier to get responses the next time."

Joe De Robertis of Danbury, whose "Feather" stands along the side the Meredith Historical Society on Main Street, welcomed the opportunity to show his work in the streets of town, noting that the market for art work has been marked by more competition, but less demand since the recession.

David Little and Steven Hayden, both of Meredith, collaborated on the the "Black Sailboat" at Scenic Park. Little, whose family traces its roots in town back 100 years, said the work was inspired by a photograph taken by his great-great-grandfather in the 1880s. "I'm so proud, so thrilled to part of the Sculpture Walk," he said. Hayden, who has two works of his own on show, recommended people lie on their backs beneath "Open Water II" to appreciate the work.

Calling himself a "a recovering sculptor," John Weidman, who also contriuted two sculptures to the walk, lauded the town and the committee for promoting the arts in public spaces. "You set yourselves for some interesting comments," he remarked. "I salute you all."

The Sculpture Walk appears to have been an immediate success. Bev Lapham noted that the first printing of 2,000 brochures, with pictures of the sculptures, a map of their locations, a directory of the artists, has been exhausted and a second printing is on its way.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 July 2014 01:18

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Id. man dives from canoe to avoid approaching motorboat

ALTON – An Idaho man escaped serious injury after he dove out of his canoe to avoid being hit by a motor boat on Lake Winnipesaukee.

Marine Patrol said Robert Johnson, 74, of East Bridgewater, Mass., was "on plane," traveling about 30 mph between Rattlesnake Island and Sleepers Island Friday afternoon when he collided with a 16-foot canoe being paddled by Robert Cavallaro of Driggs, Idaho.

Cavallaro saw the crash coming, and was able to jump from his canoe.

Marine Patrol officials said charges are pending. However, alcohol did not appear to be a factor, they added.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 July 2014 01:10

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