RE/CON Notes

Coos County timber cuts cause concern

Concerns that the North Country’s logging industry is growing too quickly and eventually could cripple itself have prompted calls from some lawmakers for tighter restrictions.

This year’s logging plans call for sharp increases, threatening the industry’s future health, state Rep. Fred King, R-Colebrook, said during a meeting this week of lawmakers, industry and county officials and residents.

Charlie Niebling, policy director at the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, said rapid cutting threatens wetlands and wildlife, and that could prompt federal intervention. He also said cleared land is more likely to be developed.

But some industry officials and legislators said the concerns are unfounded.

“We are talking about private property rights,” said Sen. John Gallus, R-Berlin. “We have paper mills having trouble getting the raw materials. We can regulate the situation to death.”

County forester Sam Stoddard said he feared tough anti-clear-cutting laws in Maine were leading loggers to look for a “liquidation harvest” in New Hampshire.

Others called that concern unfounded.

Dover commercial market booming

Demand for commercial space in downtown Dover is so large that those familiar with the local real estate market say there is a shortage of available retail space in the heart of the city, where empty storefronts were common just a decade ago.

According to Foster’s Daily Democrat, the transformation has been the result of a combination of factors: increased foot traffic thanks to trendy restaurants that opened along Central Avenue in recent years, a growing number of white-collar workers in the downtown and residential developments that brought in higher-paid professionals to the city.

Jody Skaff of The Kane Company told the newspaper that the city “has become a highly desirable market for retailers to do business in,” Skaff said. “Dover has done a terrific job in getting people over the (Little Bay) bridges,” despite the traffic bottlenecks that many believed were a major obstacle in attracting businesses to Dover, Skaff said.

Skaff said she receives calls almost daily from those looking for a space in downtown Dover.

Belmont board proposes growth plan

The Belmont planning board has proposed a three-year growth management ordinance to slow development in the town.

The ordinance would limit the number of houses built based on the growth rates of surrounding communities. Planning officials said the ordinance is needed to make sure the town’s resources, such as the police department and the school system, are equipped to handle population increases.

The ordinance is part of a series of changes brought forward by the planning board to be decided by the voters at town meeting in March. It says that if Belmont grows faster than surrounding towns, the planning board has a right to either tell developers to build their projects over a certain number of years or limit the number of building permits issued altogether.

Costs kill Gonic mall proposal

Proponentts of a controversial plan to build a shopping center off of Route 125 in the Gonic section of Rochester have abandoned the project and are uncertain whether they will select another site in the city.

Mark Conley of W.S. Development Associates told Foster’s Daily Democrat the company will not be moving forward with the shopping center at the Route 125 site because it would cost too much to develop the land.

A preliminary site plan called for construction of more than 700,000 square feet of commercial space to be built in about an 80-acre spread of land between Chesley Hill Road and the Spaulding Turnpike. The proposal was later reduced to 400,000 to 500,000 square feet.

A decision to reduce the size of the project was initially made as a cost-saving measure, but that didn’t improve the financial feasibility of moving forward, Conley said.

Word of plans to develop the site prompted the formation of a group of about 90 Gonic residents who promised to fight the proposal.

Agency to buy Nashua riverfront land

Southern New Hampshire Services has signed a purchase-and-sale agreement with Nashua Corp. for nearly six acres of riverfront land and an eight-story mill building on the north bank of the Nashua River.

The community services agency is considering developing the Nashua property at 30 and 36 Front St., known as the Cotton Mill Building, for affordable housing and business development.

The two parties did not disclose the purchase price for the 5.75 acres and three buildings on the property. The assessed value is $2,342,300, according to city records.

Meanwhile, the group has applied for federal tax credits and is looking for private grants to come up with the purchase price.

Categories: News