LACONIA — "It's the unknown that concerns us," said Fred Clausen, one of 22 homeowners at Eastern Shore Condominiums on Lake Street, at the foot of Weirs Boulevard, whose properties the Planning Board recommends rezoning from Commercial Resort to Commercial.
Altogether the proposal would rezone a dozen acres fronting Paugus Bay which house the Margate Resort, Eastern Shores Condominiums, two single-family homes and Lake Street Home Services.
The City Council will hold a public hearing on the issue — as well as on other Weirs-related zoning matters (see related stories in this issue) — shortly after 7 p.m. on Monday, May 11.
The proposal is the residue of the recommendation to remove the eastern shore of Paugus Bay along Weirs Boulevard south of the Naswa Resort from the Commercial Resort district and designate it Shorefront Residential. Planning Director Shanna Saunders said that rather than leave the small enclave in the Commercial Resort district, isolated from the the remainder of the district at the center of The Weirs, the decision was made to attach it to the Commercial district that extends along Union Avenue.
Clausen said that property owners were not notified of the proposal and only learned of it shortly before the Zoning Task Force presented its recommendations to the Planning Board. Several property owners at Eastern Shores Condominiums, including Clausen, expressed misgivings to the Planning Board and Saunders said other have raised questions directly with the Planning Department.
Although commercial uses are permitted in the Commercial Resort district, virtually all are associated with hospitality and recreation and compatible with waterfront property. Rezoning the properties would extend the number of permissible commercial uses to include vehicle sales, rentals and servicing, dry cleaning, fuel storage, packaging and processing, product assembly, warehousing and funeral services.
Noting that a number of commercial uses would be unsuited to the waterfront lots Clausen questioned the purpose of changing the zoning. In light of the Comprehensive Shoreland Protection Act, he asked "what could be built there?"
Saunders insisted that the site is suited to commercial uses, particularly since the opposite side of Lake Street, which lies in Gilford, is lined with businesses. She described the site as an extension the commercial district, consisting of lots fronting on to Union Avenue and backing on to Paugus Bay.
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