Used car operation near Weirs Traffic Circle prompts complaint to City Council

LACONIA — A Weirs Beach property owner has complained to City Council that the city has allowed a local garage to operate a used car business illegally from its premises. But owners of the business say that they followed all the necessary state and local regulations and that any problems are due to mistakes made by city officials.

Denis Bourque, who owns property 1187 Weirs Boulevard, appeared before the City Council Monday evening, and said that used cars have been sold illegally from Gulbicki's Towing & Auto Repair at 1193 Weirs Boulevard, for more than a year, that the city has been aware of the situation and has done nothing to stop it.

Bourque told the council that there have at times been 20 to 30 vehicles on Gulbicki's 0.22 acre lot.

"I've gone to the city (about this) and have gotten little or no help," said Bourque.

Mayor Ed Engler told Bourque that his complaint was the first time the council had been made aware of the problem, but that the council would ask city officials for an explanation.

C.J. Gulbicki said that he applied in 2011 to the state for a license to sell used cars from his father, Charles's, auto repair shop. He said the state license was issued in February 2012 after City Planning Director Shanna Saunders mistakenly told the state in writing that a used car business at that location was permitted by city ordinance. In fact, the property lies within the city's Commercial Resort zone, which does not permit automobile sales.

The city subsequently realized the error and the state notified Gulbicki last year that his license would be pulled because he did not have the necessary city permission. Gulbicki said that he went to Saunders and told her that he was working to find a new location for the used car business. He asked the Saunders to intervene with the state on his behalf. Saunders then wrote to the state urging that they not revoke Gulbicki's license since he assured the city he was working to rectify the situation. While the state did not revoke the license, they declined to renew the license when it expired this past March. Since then the younger Gulbicki said that he is no longer selling used cars from the location, except for a couple of vehicles which he is selling as "a private sale." Gulbicki said that he is making arrangements to move the used car lot to 248 South Main St.

Gulbicki said there are now 15-18 vehicles on garage's lot, with most there for repair work, or vehicles that have towed there by Gulbicki Towing.

Bourque told the council he is was particularly upset the the city intervened on Gulbicki's behalf. "Why would the city urge the state not to enforce its regulations simply because the city is not enforcing its regulations?," he asked the council.

City Manager Scott Myers acknowledged that Bourque had contacted numerous times about the matter. Myers said "issues between neighbors" have played a role in the matter.

The elder Gulbicki said he was upset that his business was being made to look bad. He said that neither he nor his son had done knowingly done anything wrong, and that what errors were made were made by the city. "Why should we be hurt because (Saunders) made a mistake?"

He accused Bourque of having a grudge against him.

Weirs Boulevard rezoning proposal comes to City Council

LACONIA — The City Council heard from Weirs business interests and the public last evening about a proposal from the Planning Board to rezone most of Weirs Boulevard from a commercial to a residential district.

About 50 people filled most of the seats in the Council Chambers for a public hearing on a series of proposed zoning amendments, the most controversial of which would change the Boulevard from where the thoroughfare starts at While Oaks Road north to the Naswa Resort complex from Commercial Resort to Shorefront Residential.

The Planning Board is recommending the change because Weirs Boulevard, with its proximity to Paugus Bay, has become predominantly residential as the result of the conversion of many one-time motels and cottage colonies to condominiums as well as the construction of several new multifamily condominium complexes.

"The change from (motel room and cottage) rentals to condominiums has changed the character of The Weirs," Planning Board Chairman Warren Hutchins told the council in explaining the main reason the board was recommending the change.

Some Weirs business owners were expected to voice their opposition to the plan during the hearing. Paul Fitzgerald, an attorney representing the Naswa Resort, who was at last night's hearing, said last week the Naswa's owners were "seriously concerned about the impact of creating a predominantly residential zone compared to what has been allowed and encouraged up and down the boulevard in the past."

In explaining the impact of the change, Planning Director Shanna Saunders said that inns, motels and bed and breakfasts would continue to be permitted in the new Shorefront Residential Zone, but some other hospitality businesses such as restaurants would not.

Another zoning change being proposed includes rezoning Lake Street from the Margate Resort north to White Oaks Road from Commercial Resort to Commercial. Saunders viewed this change as an extension of the current Commercial Zone which runs the length of Union Avenue.

In response to a question from Mayor Ed Engler who said the potential exists for a "total residential build-out" of Weirs Beach, Saunders said she felt that the best kind of development for The Weirs would be a mix of residential and commercial uses.

Any zoning changes will need to be approved by the City Council.

LHS seniors get 90% turnout for community service day

LACONIA — Laconia High School seniors turned out in force Saturday morning for a Community Service Day and proved they weren't afraid to get their hands dirty in their effort to ensure that their graduation will be held on June 6.
The large number of snow days this past winter had cast doubt on whether the graduation would be held on the previously recommended date of June 6. A few weeks ago school administrators agreed to that date but with the caveat that at least 80 percent of the seniors would have to show up for a Community Service Day.
As it turned out just about 90 percent of the students turned out, according to Laconia High School Principal James McCollum. The students worked to beautify the Laconia High School campus by weeding garden beds, many of which were established a few years ago as part of Shakespeare Garden project, and doing general landscaping and grounds cleanup.
''I'm very happy that people turned out. Now we don't have to do it a second time,'' said Adam Kresco, a senior who is looking at joining the military and says that the work was nothing new to him as gardening is one of his hobbies.
Brianna Wood, who is looking to a career as a beautician, said that she was proud of her classmates and thought it was very impressive that so many showed up.
''We had to get at least 90 people and we had 90 here by eight 'o'clock,'' said Cierra Pinkney, vice president of the Class of 2015, who credited the large turnout an effective social media campaign. ''We texted a lot of people and got the message out over our own Facebook page,'' she said.
Pinkney said that the large turnout was impressive given that many of the students had prior commitments on Saturday for family events such as weddings. "We offered them breakfast to start the day and keep repeating the message that it's a lot better to give up four hours on a Saturday than it is to have to attend school for another week.''
The temperature as work got underway at 8:30 a.m. was in the mid 40s and many of the students were wearing shorts and short-sleeved shirts but didn't appear fazed by the cool weather. LHS humanities teacher Rick Crockford, who was wearing a hooded sweatshirt bearing the logo of his sister's landscaping business, said that he was at the age where he needed to wear something warmer but the students appeared to be doing fine. ''Their metabolism makes it easy for them to handle this kind of weather,'' he said.

Police warn of scam involving outstanding utility bills


SANBORNTON – Police are warning people about a recent scam from people pretending to be from Eversource Energy and telling people they have outstanding electric bills.

The scammer told the would-be victim that crews were on the way to shut off the electricity and the only was to keep it on was to go to a local store and purchase pre-paid cash cards.

The caller gave the man a customer service number to call once he bought the cards. When he called, it sounded legitimate.

Since the would-be victim knew his account was current he called a published number for Eversource Energy, formerly Public Service of New Hampshire, and was told this was a scam.

Anyone who receives any similar calls should notify their local police department.