"Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.
Alexander Hamilton

Sunday, August 23, 2015

What role can historic buildings play in village revitalization, in Moultonorough and other communities?

You can find out at this panel discussion on Monday August 24th at 7pm at the Moultonboro Public Library. Panelists will be Mark Borrin (Preferred Vacation Rentals), Peter Michaud (NH Division of Historical Resources) and Maggie Stier (NH Preservation Alliance) who will discuss potential rehabilitation and redevelopment of historic buildings, including tax incentives such as RSA 79-E, grant opportunities, and code flexibility for such properties. 
The discussion is sponsored by the Moultonboro Heritage Commission which was established in March 2009, "...to promote the proper recognition, use, and protection of significant historical and cultural resources in the Town of Moultonborough.  Seeking to integrate preservation into the planning process, the Commission may advise and assist town boards regarding matters that affect historic buildings and sites.  The Heritage Commission will also collaborate with local organizations, businesses, and individuals on community preservation projects." 
It is apparent that a very high percentage of respondents (84%) to the Village Vision survey felt that when planning for the future,  it was important to preserve and encourage the use of historic buildings in the "village" area.
Only 21% of respondents agreed that property owners in the Village area should be able to do whatever they wanted with their property, regardless of the visual impact their actions may have.
The  Laconia Daily Sun had a story last week about a revised Demolition Delay Ordinance in light of the failed efforts to save the Hathaway House. The amended ordinance triggered by a demolition permit, would apply to " significant" structures" at least 50 years old and demolition of more than 700 square feet of floor area. The Code Enforcement Officer decides if the property is " significant." The ordinance can delay demolition for a month or so and possibly two more months if a petition to the City Council is successful.
A draft demolition ordinance was discussed by the BoS here in Moultonboro in 2012 (minutes can be found here) and the consensus was not to proceed at that time. Is the time now? Maybe, so long as it does not infringe upon the rights of property owners.
It is a tough situation in the village.You have an estate trying to unload two properties, one I would say has high historic value ( the old Gilligans/Maurices/Country Fare) and the other a good business opportunity to get the Berry Pond Motel back on line. Next to the Old Country Store are two vacant properties both for sale that would be good candidates for small business and/or mixed use. Lots of potential for sure.  What can we do as a town to attract new business?
The Village Vision report provides a road map of sorts and a singular vision for the village. One of the economic strategies of that report is to " Encourage re-use and re-development of existing historic buildings (rather than demolition) with compatible additions, in order to maintain existing village character, scale, and streetscape." A preservation strategy is to "Consider a demolition review process to allow for potential reconsideration when a significant property may be lost.
I'm more concerned about what might be built in the village as opposed to what already exists. If we are serious about preserving the look and character of the village, we have some work to do in defining some standards that maintain that look and character.


Anonymous said...

"What can we do as a town to attract new business?". Is it time for another survey?

I live on Long Island and conduct most of business in the towns to the west. My health care needs are conducted at Moultonborough Family Health, the lab in Meredith and of course, Lakes Region Hospital, the parent organization. I am required to use CVS for my long-term prescriptions by the insurance carrier so I have to travel to Gilford but otherwise I use Rite Aid in Meredith. Groceries and Banking - Center Harbor and Meredith. Post Office - preferably Center Harbor unless I am required to pick up an item at the Moultonborough one.

My mailing address was Center Harbor until a street address was required by E911 sometime around 2004 or 2005. I have the same telephone exchange as Center Harbor unlike the eastern part of town. Landline calls can be long distance for me when they are local for you easterners due to the different exchange. I summered here in the 1950s and 60s and always thought Lake Shore Drive was Center Harbor. Moultonborough has an identity crisis! Does anyone else remember Robin's?

I image people in the Route 109 area might go to the Huggins office in town and to the hospital itself. The hospital is 39 miles from me and well over an hour in the summer traffic. Plus I have to go through downtown Wolfeboro. I could go to Speare Hospital in Plymouth but they do not have a local office. Where do the townies in the eastern portion do their grocery shopping and have their healthcare needs tended to? Prescriptions?

I have spoken with neighbors and the consensus is that few of us go to the village unless it is for a very specific reason such as the Post Office, voting, or a visit to the Town Offices. There is not much there. I favor some type of architectural regulations for the village so we don't end up with small box stores. I don't think property rights are involved since I was once able to do anything I wanted with/on my property and now there is zoning. A few of the village buildings are very attractive while others are questionable (think our own Life Safety Building when coming from the east).

Good luck is all I can say. The majority of the town population is not centered around the village so no national or regional chain other than one wants/wanted to locate there. Another recession could be in the works as well.

Anonymous said...

I agree with this post. Except for birdseed, storage and a few a Town Hall visits, there is no need to turn right off of Moultonborough Neck Road. The MNRoad tax paying residents most likely pay the lion's share of town taxes, yet have no chance to vote on town issues, have the lousiest road surface in town and are supposed to invest in nearly condemned wooden structures that remain unoccupied? Another likely happening, like investing in and running a successful bar located across the street from the police station? Thanks for the giggles.

Anonymous said...

To Anon@ 8:34: if a person decides to move to a place as remote as Moultonborough, he or she had better weigh the pros and cons pretty carefully. We do miss a lot of the conveniences you get in the cities and suburbs, but the cities and suburbs don't have mountains and lakes, and beauty all around. When we decided to move here, we knew the trade-offs and were willing to make the plunge. Anybody who needs a Wal-Mart or Home Depot close-by had better stay away from here.

Joseph Cormier said...

"When we decided to move here, we knew the trade-offs and were willing to make the plunge. Anybody who needs a Wal-Mart or Home Depot close-by had better stay away from here."

Why ........?

I couldn't find Anon@8:34 but do agree with Anon@9:34

Gilford has the same beautiful mountains and lakes ... and Walmart, Lowes, Hannafords, Shaws etc. It has Rt. 11, MoBo's got Rt. 25, a better road.

I can remember (a very long time ago ... yes, I was a kid once)) heading westbound with my father, on Rt.25, taking the left at the light in Meredith, and staring at cinder block buildings. Meredith has adapted ... and for the better. Visionaries, transformed Meredith into a great town. There was probably turmoil, back then as well,regarding "changing" the town.

MoBo "village" has what to offer? More old buildings, which are fine, and should be preserved, ... but not at taxpayer expense! Is anyone counting the number of visitors, to the present, historic preservation buildings. Preservation ... or is it nostalgia, not shared by all.

Maybe The Old Country Store can expand into the present frontage in the village. They could use more parking space (just kidding). Preserving old buildings for the sake of preserving old buildings, does what?

Maybe, if the the town concentrated on developing the west side of town near the Center Harbor line, it might spread to renovating the village, and both areas of MoBo could adapt.

An example is Keene. It has a great mall, heading westbound on Rt.9 towards Vermont. The mall is not built on Rt.9, but off of it. It has an entrance (like taking a corner onto another road) that opens into many amenities, that provide shopping, food, jobs, reasons for varied folks to move into the area. It still maintains its rural character.

How many of you live in the village? I mean in the village, not Suissevale, nor Balmoral, nor Long Island nor ... So what will be disrupted with some development at the Center Harbor line, other than convenience and the wants of many? Maybe that area can't be developed. Is it because of attitude or logistics? MoBo is not going to stop the growing traffic along Rt. 25. Why not take advantage of it?

The only talk of developing the village is to put a rec. center in the middle of it. Do the drawings indicate a preservation of old buildings ... really ... or is it old mentalities!

At least, the old buildings are not crack-houses ... yet, notwithstanding the heroin epidemic. Hopefully, crackpots won't rule the day either.

NRT's can have a say said...

Anon at 5:22, a couple of points. First, Moultonborough Neck Rd is a state rd. and so therefore call the NHDOT if you want a better surface. I believe there is some agreement between Moultonborough and NHDOT for winter maintenance. But in reality it is the unwanted stepchild of the state. Next, as a non-resident taxpayer there are some things you can do to prevent the town from buying real estate that is the latest "Best downtown property available" for the town and school to expand their growth. We heard this mantra with the town owned Lion's Club profit center and then again with the Taylor property. (1) If you are non-resident taxpayers (NRT's) one spouse should register as a resident in Moultonborough and the other stays in their MA, CT RI town. If enough of you did that you, as a group, would be listened to. (2) Start a group of non-resident taxpayers with like minded NRT's. With todays technology meetings, conferences, etc could all be done from your laptops. It would need to be a strong effort. (3) Work as hard as you can for SB2. (4) Don't contribute to problem by wanting the WallMart at the airport (actually proposed a number of years ago).
The Anon at 9:34, You are among hundreds who are half Ctr. Harbor (Belknap County) and half Moultonborough (Carroll mess-up). This is where I think we should separate from CC and join Belknap... but that's a discussion for another time.
I see many of my neighbors and friends at the Ctr. Harbor PO every day. With that whole thing, the good news is that M-boro can have a "messy" business area and an historic center. HOWEVER, that is not to say we need a zoned historic district, regulating what color you can paint your house etc. Tax incentives could be used to sway historic property owners.

Anonymous said...

NRT. Meredith Neck Road is State owned as well and in similar condition. Meredith considered taking it over and rebuilding it until the town found it would cost $7 million.

Anonymous said...

Reason for Meredith being vibrant...THE LAKE...it is right in the center of town. Moultonborough has zero lakefront near the town center. Forget about trying to make it a second Meredith. Not going to happen. Build over 55 housing and assisted living. Maybe a Golden View. The rest...just drool over Meredith and deal...

Anonymous said...

Anon at 7:40PM-towns without lakes can't be vibrant? We don't have to be Meredith, but we need to pay attention to how run down our town is becoming. Build affordable housing so we can attract families.

Town Hall Junkie said...

Build low cost housing....a great liberal idea to squander our low tax advantage. The lake is our industry, and it creates jobs. This creates opportunities for the type of " young resident " we want. They will find housing, it is here. If you have to bus them in, and give them a low cost house, you do not want them here.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @5:12 what is your definition of "affordable housing?" Could you be more specific?

Joseph Cormier said...

Maybe, Mobo needs to find a consensus on growth or preservation, or can both be attained. Then again, consensus, alone, is a challenge. Who/what is MoBo?

Some of us that attended the Heritage Commission panel meeting Monday night, were not surprised to hear that many in surveys, didn't know of "the village", let alone the empty buildings in the village. They are probably from the west part of MoBo ... not considered MoBo.

Some may not care. The tax rate gets increased for all, no-matter what the town mafia does.

Sidewalks, Rec. Centers, playgrounds, kids, geezers, schools, lakefront, Neck Road, pathway, low income housing, crack houses, ... where else can you have this much fun! Maybe at a BoS meeting ... at least watch it streaming.

Where's the MoBo, marketing plan ... or is that added to the list of non-sequiturs? Maybe empty village buildings can be filled by free stators?

What is MoBo trying to do? To what goal? Apple pie and ice cream, motherhood statements, salute the flag, and all other attempts at projecting influence. At least broadband won't be messed with. Then again, maybe the telegraph can be resurrected! I did spot a stage coach at the Country Store. I think it was looking for more parking space.


Certified Local Govt. (certifiable, anyway)

New Hampshire’s Five-Year Preservation Plan 2016-2020


Anonymous said...

Anon @ 5:12

Yes, towns without lakes can be vibrant when you are are in the midst of other towns without lakes. I think a definition of vibrant is required. This all is related to the Village Vision. How can the village be made a destination spot. It can't because it isn't lakefront in the midst of Center Harbor, Meredith, the Weirs, Gilford to a degree, Alton Bay and Wolfeboro all of which have downtowns situated right on the lake. Most of these locations have year round appeal as well.

Another discussion is how can Moultonborough be made appealing to young families. The answer is offer the best recreation facilities in the state, free day care, subsidized housing, etc., etc. Of course each child will add $20,000+ to the school budget in return for only hundreds in additional tax revenue. Attracting industry is the ideal situation because the town gets added tax base and most employees leave town at the end of the day.

Anonymous said...

Town Hall JUnkie, who made you the arbiter of what "we " want? 30-40 homes on a 20 acre subdivision for around $150,000 each would attract teachers and commuters that want their children to have access to good schools and a nice community. Nothing wrong with that. Liberal idea? Hardly. Better than your keep them out if they are not just like us.

Anonymous said...

Annon at 1033- your comments are idiotic and make zero sense. Many families want to move here for what we already have. A safe well run town and great schools.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 4:08....30-40 homes on 20 acres.....yep, watch the Planning Board go APES !!!!!!! Never going to happen. Compare Moultonborough to Tamworth, Sandwich, Ossipee... all without lakefront and small town centers with little going on. It is the LAKE that is the draw for vibrant communities ..Meredith, Wolfeboro, etc.... in this area. No lake and Meredith would be dead in 2 years.

Grumpy said...

Tamworth: no zoning, low property values because someone can erect a quonset hut and start a junk yard next door, historic colonial sections of town (control by old monied families) and poverty stricken sections. Sandwich: Historic town with a ridged Historic District at the center, also controlled by old money and nouveau riche for the most part. No business can survive down town not even a small century old convenience store. Little or no work force working in town. Ossipee: Several economic sections with a major N/S highway through it. No historic district and only a couple historically protected properties. None of these compare with Mboro historic properties or districts, tax base or non residential property owners.
The "Lake" has its draw Mboro as much as Meredith in that the size of our tax base proves the folks drawn here by the lake buy and stay. Much of the down town lake front in Meredith draws folks to one of Rusty's inns or Alex's restaurants and there gone. They have a large Meredith Neck tax base but not the size of Mboro.
Stop wishing for something that is not going to happen and be thankful for and respectful of the blessing that we do have; a tax base of a medium sized NH city (nearly 3 BBBilion $$$) and only 4000 residents. (compare with Keene 1.8 billion with 24,000 residents)

Joseph Cormier said...

Lot of good points, Grumpy!

Long Island, in MoBo, is still the largest island on the lake. It actually has some vintage buildings, as well as newly built. Was Meredith as great an attraction before revitalization? I don't think so. Does Meredith have seasonal and transient folks like MoBo. Sure!
Do those "there gone" folks bring money, even seed money into the community? Sure! A tax base is not the only tool for quality of life issues.

MoBo may not want to be another touristy Meredith, but it doesn't mean a Lowes or Walmart near the Center Harbor Diner (in MoBo), placed way in the back of Rt.25, would be another Family/Dollar Store action by the deciders. Whatever happened to free market place? Thank goodness for zoning(he says with a grin).

Don't even think about putting a designed-for-MoBo pharmacy at the Taylor property; endanger a Rec. Center scheme, or sidewalks to nowhere. The historic buildings across the street might get bought (other than by the town), fixed-up with grants, and Fed./State programs, and become a MoBo attraction. Then maybe, sidewalks and cafes might come about.

Hart's in Meredith has a great Friday-night-buffet. Maybe, a thank you to the locals, and maybe a good business tactic for changes in business seasons. Dealing with reality might be too novel for MoBo ... for now. Hell, the wife and I used to like going to Maurice's for Friday night dinner, after our work-commute from Concord. Now Maurice's can be an ad for a decline of some sort ... or an ad for a crack-house! Apropos ... near the municipality :)

Meredith has gotten over the "must be the Old Meredith" and it coexists with newer lifestyles, that have something for almost everyone, without excluding anyone.

The high percentages of respondents, that state preserving MoBo is paramount, are dealing a shell game. Mobo doesn't have any credible surveys ... 80% of something means nothing, without accepting the base, and biased questions ... 80% ... wow ... of what ... five people? Most won't bother with the surveys, and most of us know why.
The multitude of MoBo visions are tainted by the same few that control the town. But why not! I'm all for them controlling. If there is complacency, then so be it!

There is little danger of MoBo changing with the present mentality, other than what some perceive, as the present decline. Some view that as the inevitable, and MoBo will evolve, notwithstanding itself, even if that is to be the status quo.

Some are happy about that as well!

Lacking a Plan said...

The Village has some major draw backs that hinder develope. No public sewer or water, small lots with buildings that are very close to route 25. Until some concrete solutions are brought forward to address these issues other than a hodge podge of ideas, let it be. Sidewalks in the Village are premature. They'll only get dug up once someone figures out how the Village could be improved. It makes more sense to develope near the Center Harbor line where there are public utlilites. Because of the down economy now may not be the best time to revitalize the Village.