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Gilford Zoning Board declines rehearing on solar panel farm proposal

GILFORD — The Gilford Zoning Board of Adjustment again denied a request for a rehearing from a local man who wants to build a solar panel farm on his property on Kimball Road earlier this week.

The board had previously denied an appeal made by Williard Drew of the Inns and Motels of the Lakes Region on October 18, saying the appeal came more than 30 days after the decision.

In a motion for a rehearing, Drew's attorney, Phil Brouillard cried foul, saying Drew's appeal doesn't challenge the ZBA's interpretation of a zoning ordinance but rather challenges the ordinance itself.

He claims the ordinance and it application constitutes a violation of equal protection and a "taking" — in legal terms something that deprives the owner of reasonable property value by enacting a government regulation.

Brouillard also objected to the way Drew's appeal was handled.

He noted that the ZBA, the Planning Board, the Town Attorney and the Planning Department had been discussing Drew's request for 370 solar panels since January of 2014.

The Planning Board deferred the decision to the Zoning Board until July of 2014, but because neither Drew nor Brouillard had received prior notice of the motion as drafted by the Town Attorney it delayed action until August 18.

At the August 18 meeting the planning director was absent because of long-standing vacation plans and an "abnormal amount of time passed before Drew and Brouillard received written notice of the denial which was received on September 10, a few days before the deadline for the September meeting.

Brouillard said he called the Town Planner John Ayer once he got the written denial and told him he could not be ready for the September deadline but would be ready before the October 14 deadline for submissions for the November meeting.

He said that during the discussions he had with Ayer, the 30-day deadline and ZBA procedures never arose, something he considered a "reasonable expectation".

At the November meeting, the ZBA denied the appeal with no discussion because it was beyond the 30-day deadline.

Last Updated on Saturday, 13 December 2014 02:07

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Deputy Fire Chief Shawn Riley named City of Laconia's Employee of the Year

LACONIA — Deputy Fire Chief Shawn Riley was honored as the "Employee of the Year" at the annual Christmas luncheon held yesterday at the Community Center for city personnel as well as all those who volunteer to serve on city boards and commissions.

"I was very surprised to be named," Riley said, adding that all his fellow employees have done to support his family as his wife battles with cancer is honor enough. "Laconia is an easy place to work hard," he remarked.

Riley, who joined the Fire Department seven years ago after serving in Concord for a decade, directs all aspects of emergency medical services. He supervises the education, training and licensing of personnel and ensures that operations comply with all state and federal regulations and that the quality of care matches or exceeds the highest standards.

Riley is the liaison between the department and LRGHealthcare, which funds his position as well as the ambulance service. In partnership with LRGH he has trained emergency medical personnel throughout its catchment area as well as volunteered his time teach first aid to various youth and civic organization throughout the region. Riley has been at the forefront of expanding access to automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) and instruction in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the Lakes Region.

Riley holds an associates degree in paramedicine and Bachelor's and Master's degrees in public and business administration. He is a paramedic certified to instruct all levels of emergency medical providers.

Riley lives in Concord with his wife Stephanie, a veteran of Air National Guard and former nurse at Concord Hospital, and their son Shane, 13, and daughter Samantha, 9.

Seven employees were recognized for serving the city for 20 years or more. Police Chief Chris Adams celebrated his 20th year. Captain Bob Landry of the Fire Department, Argee Whittier of the Parks and Recreation Department, Dot Sausville of the Laconia Public Library, Sergeant Gary Hubbard of the Police Department and Floyd Dungelman of the Laconia Water Works have all served for 25 years and Steven Smith of the Department of Public Works marked his 30th anniversary.

Last Updated on Saturday, 13 December 2014 02:04

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Planning Board puts brakes on plan to fast-track acceptance of new city streets but 1 moves forward

LACONIA — Although the Planning Board has reservations about a proposal to accelerate the acceptance of new city streets, it nevertheless recommended early acceptance of Linny Lane and this week the City Council agreed to schedule a public hearing on the recommendation on Dec. 22.

Until a roadway, — built to serve a subdivision, for example — can be maintained and plowed by the city and its residents served by trash collection and school buses, it must be accepted as a city street. To be accepted it must be constructed to municipal standards.

Luke Powell, assistant director of public works, said that current practice, as prescribed by the subdivision regulations, is to require a "performance observation period" of one year after the base pavement is laid before a newly built street can be accepted as a city street. He explained that during the year the street undergoes a complete cycle of freezing and thawing, which reveals any deficiencies before it is accepted. At the same time, he said that approximately half the house lots must be developed and occupied prior to acceptance in order to provide a tax base to support the extension of municipal services.

In November, the City Council asked the Planning Board to consider a plan to foreshorten the acceptance process. To qualify for early acceptance a developer would have to satisfy nearly a dozen criteria, most of which are already required, but could forego the "performance observation period" of one year.

The early acceptance proposal is intended to enhance the marketability of property by enabling its developer to assure prospective purchasers that they will be living on a city street and entitled to municipal services.

Warren Hutchins, chairman of the Planning Board, agreed with the intent of the proposal, but said that the board has some reservations. He pointed out that the process begins with the Department of Public Works (DPW), which determines that streets are constructed to the specified standards, then proceeds to the Planning Board, where, if circumstances warrant, requirements may be waived and early acceptance granted. Finally, the Planning Board presents a recommendation to the City Council, which is vested with the final authority to accept a street.

Hutchins said that the major concerns of the board are unease about enabling a developer to forego an entire cycle of freezing and thawing and questions about the appropriate number of developed lots to be required for acceptance. "We need to figure all this stuff out," he said, adding that the board was collecting information from other municipalities as well as from the DPW.

Meanwhile, the Planning Board waived the "performance observation period" for Kevin Morrissette, the developer of the subdivision along Linny Lane, near the Laconia County Club, and recommended the council accept the street. Hutchins said that the board acted on the recommendation of the DPW.

Powell said that Morrissette first intended to lay the base pavement a year ago, in November 2013, but on the advice of DPW agreed to avoid the risk of unfavorable conditions and do the work this year. The street was paved in July and in August Morrissette applied for acceptance. Powell said that the materials and paving were carefully inspected and the department recommended the waiver. "It is not a long street," Powell noted. "Just 1,000 or 800 feet."

Last Updated on Saturday, 13 December 2014 01:47

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Meredith will have chance to comment on roundabout plans on Monday

MEREDITH — The Route 3/Route 25 Advisory Commitee will present its recommendation for improving the flow of traffic through the center of the village to the Board of Selectmen when it meets at the Community Center on Monday, December 15, beginning at 4:15 p.m.

The committee proposes replacing the traffic signal at the junction of Routes 3 and 25 with a single lane roundabout and constructing two other single lane roundabout, one at Lake Street and another at Pleasant Street. The roundabout at the 3/25intersection will have two right turn lanes to carry northbound traffic from Rte. 3 eastbound on Rte. 25. Traffic islands on Rte. 3 would forestall left turns in and out of Dover Street and on Rte. 25 would forestall left turns in or out of Meredith Village Savings Bank and the Hannaford shopping center.

The committee describes the plan as an "improvement," not a solution, to the congestion during the summer months. Northbound traffic on Rte. 3 going eastward on Rte. 25 is projected to become less congested while westbound traffic on Rte. 25 turning south on to Rte. 3 is expected to flow more continuously without the traffic signal. Although a two lane roundabout at the intersection of Rte. 3 and Rte. 25 would do more to reduce congestion, the committee concluded that the benefit did not outweigh the adverse impacts to abutting properties and obstruct the flow of crosstown traffic from Main Street to Rte. 25.

Each of the roundabouts will have crosswalks designed to enable pedestrians to cross one lane of traffic at a time. There will also be a crosswalk at Dover Street where a center island on Rte. 3 will enable pedestrians to cross one lane of traffic at a time. The crosswalks are not expected to significantly slow the flow of traffic on Rte. 3.

The roundabout at Lake Street will enable northbound traffic on Rte. 3 to turn on to Lake Lake Street and traffic on Lake Street to turn either southbound or northbound on to Rte. 3. The roundabout at Pleasant Street will include a driveway leading to the parking lots of both Meredith Village Savings Bank and the shopping center, enabling traffic on Rte. 25 to enter and exit without making left turns.

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation estimates the project to cost $5 million, excluding the expense of acquiring land. The entire cost will be born by the DOT, with no contribution from the town. The DOT hopes to design and engineer the project as well as acquire any necessary property in 2015 and complete construction in 2017 or 2018.

Last Updated on Saturday, 13 December 2014 01:41

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