Landlords blame taxes for rent hikes Landlords in Laconia have told the Laconia Citizen that steadily rising assessments that have their tax bills going up 25-30 percent each year are among the major reasons local rental rates are becoming harder and harder for individuals to afford. Investors of rental properties told the newspaper that hefty tax bills, rising insurance costs and high energy prices are contributing toward a situation where costs are being shifted on tenants in a market already short of available units. Recent numbers have shown that Lakes Region residents are struggling to put roofs over their heads as housing prices rise faster than their incomes. A study by Russ Thibeault of Applied Economic Research indicated that the monthly rent of a two-bedroom apartment has gone from about $550 in 1997 to $800 or more today. Lakes Region Rental Association Vice President Howard Warren said “rolling revaluations” conducted by the city mean that property assessments are updated on a yearly basis. The computerized process adjusts the assessment yearly, based on the sale of comparable properties. Neighbors protest Lebanon plan More than 60 Lebanon residents have signed a petition asking the town planning board to reject the proposed 170-unit Prospect Hill housing development, claiming it will increase traffic, imperil the safety of pedestrians and destroy the character of a neighborhood that is home to many long-time Lebanon residents. “Our main concerns are safety and traffic and density,” petitioner Hugh Sullivan told the Valley News. “They’re moving more people into those two pieces of land than live in the entire area.” Officials from the development company, M&M Equities LLC, said they have been fair to residents and kept the proposal smaller than legally allowed to accommodate neighbors’ concerns. Bow planners seek to slow senior housing The Bow Planning Board has placed an article on the town meeting warrant that will ask voters to approve a one-year moratorium on a six-year-old incentive to encouraging housing specialized for people who are 55 and older. Board members say they want to look at the developments’ effect on town resources and see if they should change zoning regulations to control where the complexes can be built. Under the moratorium, housing intended for seniors could still be approved, but normal density requirements would apply. A minimum of two buildable acres would be required for single family units. Duplexes would need 2.5 acres. The town put the density bonus in place because developers started asking about senior housing in the late 1990s. DiNapoli elected NH CIBOR president John R. DiNapoli, business resource manager for the state Business Resource Center, has been elected as the 2005 president of the New Hampshire Commercial Investment Board of Realtors. DiNapoli, a licensed Realtor for over 18 years, also was recently reappointed to the board of directors of the New Hampshire Economic Development Association and Plan NH. Lowe’s proposed in Plymouth A new Lowe’s home improvement store has been proposed for a site on Tenney Mountain Highway in Plymouth. The proposed store will be 110,000 square feet with an attached 27,000-square-foot garden center. Windham planners revamp wetlands rules Windham town planners hope to attract more light industry and office complexes to town by allowing developers to use protected wetlands. The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune reported that developers would not be allowed to put any buildings in a protected wetland area, but they would be able to build parking lots and driveways in the areas. Currently, the protected zones vary from within 100 to 200 feet of a body of water. Under present rules, nothing — including parking lots or driveways — can be built inside of those protected zones without a variance, which is hard to obtain, said Town Planner Becky Way. Under a proposal to change the rules, parking lots and driveways could be located within 25 feet of a body of water. Voters will have the final say on the proposal in the March 8 election. The new rules would give developers more usable land on their sites and are expected to encourage nonresidential development, including light industry, retail, commercial and office complexes, Way said. In return, developers would have to meet higher standards, including installing filtering systems to protect the water quality, she said. Rochester Ramada to be a prototype The Ramada Inn planned for a site in Rochester will be a prototype hotel to be built around the country. According to Foster’s Daily Democrat, attorney Jerry Grossman - one of the members of the development group - said the 75-unit hotel on Route 11 would be based on a prototype for 99-unit developments by Cendant Corp., Ramada’s parent company. The prototype calls for upgraded amenities not seen in other Ramada hotels across the country, such as high-speed Internet and an indoor pool and spa. Grossman hopes the proposal can go before the city planning board at its March workshop. If approved in April, ground-breaking could start in May, with project completion in August. The cost is an estimated $5 million.