Neighbors object - Rooming house on Court Street draws controversy


LACONIA — A property owner seeking to convert a sprawling New Englander at 140 Court St. into a rooming house has encountered opposition from his neighbors and questions from the Zoning Board of Adjustment when he presented his plan last week.

Michael Pelky, doing business as Pelletier Realty Rentals, LLC of Canterbury, purchased the property, a 3,420-square-foot two-story building with 16 rooms on a 0.23 acre lot, in January 2016 for $90,000, According to the tax records, the building was constructed in 1875, contains three dwelling units and has a current assessed value of $130,000. The property is within the commercial district where a special exception from the Zoning Board of Adjustment is required in order to operate a rooming house.

In June, fire damaged part of the rear of the building. The owner has proposed dividing one of the units into six rooms, each approximately 10 feet and by 20 feet, served by a common bathroom and kitchen, effectively operating a section of the building as a rooming house. Two three-bedroom apartments would remain in the section of the building that fronts on Court Street. Pelky told the board that the property has been used as a rooming house in the past.

Paul Poirier, who owns the three-unit apartment house abutting the property to the west told the board that problems arose a month after Pelky acquired the property and "there has been nothing but trouble since." He said that police officers have been dispatched to the property 15 times this year and submitted a record of the calls, which included responses to a disturbance, a dispute between the landlord and a tenant, and a complaint of criminal trespass. Poirier expressed concern that such incidents could adversely affect his tenants, jeopardizing the occupancy of his units and diminish the value of his property.

Robert Fisher, who owns an abutting property at 92 Bowman St., said that the noise and "accumulation of vehicles" at 140 Court Street has had a negative effect on the neighborhood. His son, Robert Fisher, Jr., who lives at 92 Bowman St., echoed his father, adding that with another six tenants the problems were likely to increase.

Acting Planning Director Brandee Loughlin said that, apart from the special exception to operate a rooming house, Pelky might also require variances from both the parking and density requirements. As many as nine off-street parking spaces may be required, one-and-a-half spaces for each of the two apartments and one for each of the six rooms. Moreover, the maximum residential density in the commercial district is six units per acre. The lot is less than a quarter acre, while the three units proposed — two apartments and the rooming house — would require a half acre.

The Zoning Board Adjustment tabled the proposal until its next meeting on Dec. 19.

11-25 140 Court St 2016

This is the building at 140 Court St. The rambling architecture includes additions on the back.(Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)

Below is its location on Google maps.

11-25 140 Court St map