Articles Posted in New Hampshire Supreme Court

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Plaintiff Dartmouth Corporation of Alpha Delta (Alpha Delta) appealed a Superior Court order affirming a Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) decision in favor of defendant Town of Hanover (Town). The ZBA determined that the use of Alpha Delta’s property at 9 East Wheelock Street (the property) violated the Town’s zoning ordinance. Alpha Delta has been a fraternity for students at Dartmouth College (College) since the 1840s. In 1931, the Town enacted its first zoning ordinance. At that time, Alpha Delta’s property was located in the “Educational District” in which an “[e]ducational use, or dormitory . . . incidental to and controlled by an educational institution” was permitted as of right. Between 1931 and the mid- 1970s, the property was located in various zoning districts where its use by Alpha Delta as a fraternity was allowed as of right. In 1976, the Town enacted its current zoning ordinance, under which the property was located within the “Institution” district. A student residence in the Institution district was allowed only by special exception. In 2015, the College notified Alpha Delta by letter that, due to the fraternity’s violation of the school’s standards of conduct, it had revoked recognition of the fraternity as a student organization. “Derecognition” revoked certain privileges, pertinent here was recognition as a ‘college approved’ residential facility; and use of College facilities or resources. The College notified Alpha Delta that it would be removed from the College’s rooming system under which student room rents are paid through the College, and would no longer be under the jurisdiction or protection of the College’s department of safety and security. Furthermore, the College notified the Town that Alpha Delta no longer had a relationship with Dartmouth College, and notified Alpha Delta that it was the College’s “understanding that under the Town zoning ordinance no more than three unrelated people will be allowed to reside on the property.” The Town’s zoning administrator subsequently notified Alpha Delta by letter that use of the property violated the zoning ordinance. Alpha Delta appealed, but finding none of its arguments availing, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Dartmouth Corp. of Alpha Delta v. Town of Hanover" on Justia Law

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Petitioner James Boyle, as trustee of the 150 Greenleaf Avenue Realty Trust, appealed a decision of the New Hampshire Transportation Appeals Board (TAB) affirming the denial of his application for a permit to construct a driveway onto a state highway. The TAB based its decision upon sections 7(a) and 7(e) of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation’s (DOT) “Policy for the Permitting of Driveways and Other Accesses to the State Highway System.” Although the TAB concluded that petitioner’s proposed driveway would adequately protect the safety of the traveling public, because it also determined that there was sufficient support for the hearings examiner’s conclusion that the proposed driveway would cause an unreasonable hazard to the traveling public, it upheld the hearings examiner’s denial of the petitioner’s permit application. On appeal, petitioner challenged the finding of an unreasonable hazard, arguing that it was impossible for a driveway to adequately protect the safety of the traveling public and simultaneously cause an unreasonable hazard to the traveling public. Thus, petitioner argued that the TAB erred in denying his permit application. The Supreme Court agreed with petitioner, and, therefore, reversed. View "Appeal of Boyle" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff owned a 105-acre tract of land in Wakefield. Approximately 68 acres of the tract was used for recreational vehicle campsites. In 1994, plaintiff obtained approval from the planning board to build 16 seasonal cabins on the remaining 37 acres of the tract. Each approved cabin was to be built on two acres. In 2001, the planning board decided that each cabin could be 600 square feet. Plaintiff then began creating the cabin development and as of 2007 it had constructed four cabins. In 2007, plaintiff consulted with the planning board about increasing the size of the remaining 12 cabins to approximately 850 square feet. Plaintiff’s request was denied and, despite the previous approval of 600 square feet per cabin, the permissible size of each of plaintiff’s remaining cabins was reduced to a maximum of 400 square feet. The matter was litigated and the Trial Court ordered that, because the plaintiff had relied upon the planning board’s prior approval in creating the cabin development, plaintiff was allowed to construct 600-square-foot cabins. In April 2011, plaintiff sought permission from the planning board to increase the size of the remaining 12 cabins to approximately 850 square feet. The request was again denied, and plaintiff appealed to the superior court. When the superior court upheld the planning board's decision, plaintiff appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing: (1) nothing in the language of RSA chapter 216-I precluded it from constructing “890 square foot” cabins; (2) the planning board lacked the authority to enforce compliance with RSA chapter 216-I; and (3) its rights to procedural due process were violated by confusion about which town entity defendant's attorney represented at a May 2011 planning board hearing. The Supreme Court concluded that the trial court erred in ruling that, to comport with RSA chapter 216-I, the plaintiff’s “cabins must be less than 400 square feet.” The case was remanded for the superior court to vacate the planning board’s decision and for the planning board to address plaintiff’s request to increase the size of the remaining cabins. View "Lake Forest R.V. Resort, Inc. v. Town of Wakefield" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, Paul and Sara Lynn, appealed a Superior Court order granting summary judgment to defendant Wentworth By The Sea Master Association (association), and denying summary judgment to plaintiffs. The parties disputed the validity of an easement on the plaintiffs’ property that provided members of the association beach access. Because the Supreme Court concluded that an easement was validly created, it affirmed. View "Lynn v. Wentworth By The Sea Master Association" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff CBDA Development, LLC (CBDA) appealed a superior court order affirming a decision of the Planning Board (Board) of defendant, Town of Thornton not to consider CBDA’s second site plan application for a proposed recreational campground. The Board decided that it could not consider CBDA’s second application because it did not materially differ in nature and degree from CBDA’s initial application. CBDA argued that the trial court erred when it: (1) upheld the Board’s decision to apply the "Fisher v. City of Dover" doctrine to applications before a planning board; and (2) found that the Board reasonably concluded that CBDA’s second application did not materially differ from its first application. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "CBDA Development, LLC v. Town of Thornton" on Justia Law

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THI is a subsidiary of THI of New Hampshire, LLC, itself a subsidiary of a parent company that owns nursing home operators throughout the country. In approximately 2003, THI purchased and began operating a nursing home, Pleasant Valley Nursing Center (Pleasant Valley), in Derry. In 2012, THI had an opportunity to expand when Exeter Healthcare, Inc. closed its nursing home in Exeter and offered to sell its 109 licensed nursing beds. THI and Exeter Healthcare entered into a purchase and sale agreement for the beds in 2013, and THI made deposit payments to Exeter Healthcare in accordance with the agreement. The following month, THI requested that the Board grant approval for the transfer of the beds from Exeter Healthcare to THI. Because the Pleasant Valley building would not accommodate all of the beds to be transferred, THI also requested permission to apply for a Certificate of Need (CON) to construct a new building to house the beds in a different location. THI selected a site in Londonderry for the new building, which it planned to operate under the name Traditions at Londonderry. In its application, THI explained that the transfer would occur in the same nursing home region in Rockingham County, such that the number of beds in the region would not increase. THI also informed the Board that its contract conditioned its obligation to buy the beds from Exeter Healthcare upon the Board’s approval of the CON for Traditions at Londonderry. In this appeal of the Health Services Planning and Review Board's (Board) order, THI argued that the Board incorrectly interpreted RSA 151-C:4, III(a) as preventing the Board from granting a certificate of need (CON) to THI for the construction of the Pleasant Valley nursing home. Although the Board found that THI’s proposed facility would satisfy regulatory requirements for services offered, quality of care, and financial feasibility, among other criteria, the Board nevertheless denied THI’s application because the Pleasant Valley facility was not an “existing facility.” Finding no error, the Supreme Court affirmed the Board's decision. View "Appeal of THI of New Hampshire at Derry, LLC " on Justia Law

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Respondents Steven and Philomena Landrigan appealed a Superior Court order finding that they unlawfully subdivided their property and granting petitioner Town of Newbury's request for injunctive relief and the imposition of a $2,000 fine. Respondents argued that the trial court erred in finding that their conduct and that of their predecessors had merged two non-conforming parcels into a single lot. Finding no error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Town of Newbury v. Landrigan" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Charles Roberts appealed a superior court order that affirmed the Town of Windham Zoning Board of Adjustment's (ZBA) denial of his request to reverse the administrative merger of certain lots. Finding that the ZBA's decision was not unlawful or unreasonable, the Supreme Court affirmed the superior court's decision. View "Roberts v. Town of Windham" on Justia Law

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Respondents New Hampshire Fish & Game and the New Hampshire Council on Resources and Defelopment (CORD) appealed a superior court decision that granted summary judgment to petitioners Town of Newbury and Lake Sunapee Protective Association. Petitioners challenged CORD's decision to approve Fish & Game's design of a boat launch. The trial court held that CORD lacked authority to approve the launch because it was a class III public highway, and could not approve "new highway projects." Disagreeing with the trial court's interpretation of RSA 162-C:6, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Town of Newbury v. New Hampshire Fish & Game Dept." on Justia Law

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Respondent Town of Danville appealed a Superior Court order abating "land use change tax" (LUCT) assessments issued to petitioners Maplevale Builders, LLC, Hoyt Real Estate Trust, and John H. and Maryann Manning, on the basis that the LUCT bills were untimely under RSA 79-A:7 (Supp. 2006) (amended 2009, 2010, 2012). Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that the superior court erred in ruling that all of the lots of the subdivision in question changed in use in 2009, when the Planning Board granted final subdivision approval. Because the trial court did not follow the caselaw in its consideration of when each lot changed in use, the Supreme Court vacated its abatement order. The parties did not ask the Court to determine on appeal when each lot changed in use or whether the exception in RSA 79-A:7, V(a) applied. Thus, the Court remanded for a redetermination of when each lot changed in use, and whether in light of the change in use date, the LUCT bills were timely. The Court concluded that the amended version of RSA 79-A:7, II(c) applied to any notice or discovery of change in use occurring on or after April 1, 2009. View "Maplevale Builders, LLC v. Town of Danville" on Justia Law