LACONIA — The City Council has granted an extension of 60 days to see if the Heritage Commission and Weirs Beach property owner can come to an agreement about saving a 150-year-old house the owner wants to tear down.
The council approved the extension sought by the commission on a 6-0 vote. After the vote one councilor wondered aloud whether the additional time would, in the end, do any good.
The owner of 76 Lakeside LLC has applied for a permit to tear down the Victorian gingerbread-style house which has been unoccupied for three years. The owners say their plan is eventually to build a commercial building on the land, but have said they have no immediate plans to do so.
Mayor Andrew Hosmer, who did not vote on the matter, said the city has invested a considerable amount of money in recent years to improve the appearance of Lakeside Avenue, and having a vacant lot in the middle of the heart of Weirs Beach will diminish the area’s attractiveness.
Councilor Mark Haynes, who serves on the Heritage Commission, said the 60-day extension gives the commission time “to see what we can do” to save the building.
The owners have offered to give the building away to anyone who will move it off the lot and has offered to contribute $10,000 toward the moving cost. But Haynes doubted moving the building was feasible.
Members of the commission and members of the public have urged that the building be preserved because it sits at the gateway of a larger cluster of Victorian-style, post-Civil War buildings which line Lakeside Avenue that runs along the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee.
The Heritage Commission is empowered to review plans to demolish any building that is more than 50 years old. While it can use the review process to encourage the preservation of historic buildings, it has no authority to prevent any demolition.
“The applicants know they just need to play the game.” Haynes said of the situation.
Council Bob Soucy agreed.
“I don’t like it,” he said.
Code Enforcement Officer Dean Trefethen, whose duties include issuing demolition permits, said that if the Heritage Commission and the owners have been unable to reach an agreement about the building by the end of the 60-day extension, he would have no choice but to issue the demolition permit.