This blog provides news, discusses relevant legal issues, and highlights emerging trends in New England municipal law from Preti Flaherty's attorneys who represent cities and towns throughout the region.

Recent Blog Posts

  • The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that it is a violation of the First Amendment to require public sector employees to pay union dues if they do not wish to even when they benefit from collective bargaining. Maine is one of 20 states which require all public employees who are eligible to join a union to pay dues even if they object. That law will now be voided. Many employees will now choose not... More
  • The Maine Legislature today voted to override Governor LePage’s veto of LD 1719, “An Act to Implement a Regulatory Structure for Adult Use Marijuana.” This is good news for municipalities eager for some certainty on what they’ll be dealing with when retail (“adult use”) marijuana establishments come to town.  The Act makes significant changes to the existing Marijuana Legalization Act. It... More
  • With the passage of Senate Bill 412 in the 2018 Session, the New Hampshire Legislature made two significant changes relating to agritourism.  The first significant change was an amendment to RSA 674:32-b, II, which added the following language:  No municipality shall adopt an ordinance, bylaw, definition, or policy regarding agritourism activities that conflicts with the definition of... More
  • One thing we always look for when reviewing a land use ordinance is whether it inadvertently allows for appeal of enforcement orders issued by the code enforcement officer (CEO). We prefer not to have such orders be appealable, because a notice of violation is only a preliminary determination and will always be reviewed by a court before any penalties are assessed. Further, notices of violation... More
  • Many municipalities are the recipients of generous monetary gifts to be held in trust for various public purposes. Such gifts can range in size from a few hundred dollars to a few hundred thousand dollars or more, and may be accompanied by very specific instructions for how they are to be spent or by no instructions at all. While important to serving their various public purposes, these funds can... More
  • Maine’s Superior Court recently issued a decision that provides clarification on the grandfathered status of non-conforming structures and, more specifically, the circumstances under which that status may be lost.  At issue in Plourde v. Town of Casco was the non-conforming status of a dock. In 2005, the town had issued a building permit for a dock to a family that owned property in a... More
  • The Municipal Law and Finance Group recently advised a client regarding the use of a relatively new statute – 30-A M.R.S. § 3106 – which provides municipalities with authority to take possession and dispose of mobile homes that have been abandoned. While the statute uses the term “abandoned,” it seems to also include mobile homes that are in a substantial state of disrepair. Code Enforcement... More
  • The Maine State Legislature today voted against legislation extending the moratorium that had held the citizens’ enacted recreational marijuana law from going into full effect since its enactment in November 2016 (it has been legal since early 2017 to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, grow your own plants, and to give gifts of marijuana to other people). The immediate effect of the law... More
  • In follow-up to our post last week, a real world example of when it is necessary for a municipality to intervene in a landlord tenant situation arose in Brunswick. Because the wells were failing to keep up with demand of the 1,200 residents of the Bay Bridge Estates Mobile Home Park, its owners began rationing water by restricting supply during what they considered off-peak times during the... More
  • Municipal officials are often asked to intervene when landlords fail to keep up rental properties to the satisfaction of their tenants. But when can—and should—municipalities get involved in these often thorny situations? Generally speaking, towns should make it their practice to simply advise upset tenants that they should consult with legal counsel or a legal services agency to try to resolve... More
  • Title 30-A § 4452 allows code enforcement officers (CEOs) and other local officials who are specifically tasked with enforcing local ordinances the right to go on a potential violator’s property to determine if violations exist. The statute requires permission from the property owner if a local official wishes to inspect inside a building, but specifically states that such an entry onto property... More
  • The Maine Superior Court recently issued a decision reiterating that only municipalities have the authority to enforce land use regulations. The decision is a reminder that private persons are not entitled to sue for enforcement of a land use ordinance and that, if they do, any such action may be dismissed. At issue in Emanuel v. Town of Bristol was the use of a refrigerated trailer at a... More
  • In this installment of the Let's Talk Municipal Finance series, I will discuss two short-term alternatives to the issuance of long-term bonds for municipalities to access needed funds. These alternatives have a shorter maturity period and are either anticipated to be repaid by long-term bonds or other municipal revenue. Tax Anticipation Notes Tax anticipation notes, commonly referred to as TANs... More
  • One of those deadlines municipal officials tend to know off the top of their heads is that referendum elections must be ordered at least 45 days in advance. This has now changed! The Maine Legislature in its last session changed the filing deadline for nomination papers from 45 days to 60 days prior to the election. Because the deadline for calling a referendum election is, under 30-A M.R.S.A.... More
  • The Town of Brunswick recently prevailed in a case regarding the Town Council’s decision to sell a waterfront property that had been acquired through tax foreclosure. The plaintiffs, several citizens, had presented a petition to the Council which sought a referendum vote to enact an ordinance designating the property as a municipal park. However, the Council had already considered designating the... More