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 Law Court entered a decision on April 11, 2019, which took the rare step of granting summary judgment in favor of the Town of Denmark in a case that an employee brought against the Town. The underlying facts were that the employee worked from 2003 to 2014 under a written employment contract with the Town to serve as a part-time Code Enforcement Officer (CEO). The contract stated that he was... More
  • If a code enforcement officer (CEO) issues a written decision finding “no violation” of a land use ordinance, is that decision appealable? Recently, Maine’s Law Court tackled this very question and answered “yes”—but only so long as the ordinance does not say otherwise. In Raposa v. Town of York, an abutter became concerned about how a neighbor was using property. The abutter contacted the... More
  • Even in towns where all legislative authority rests with town meeting, the Selectmen or Town Council have authority to pass certain kinds of ordinances. Following is a list of those topics:  Traffic Control Ordinances – Title 30-A M.R.S. § 3009 allows the municipal officers to enact ordinances governing:  Pedestrian traffic, including the use and maintenance of sidewalks and crosswalks. (Yes... More
  • After a municipality goes through the statutory foreclosure process because of delinquent taxes on a piece of real estate, it normally takes the property free and clear of any pre-existing liens, mortgages, executions of judgment, or other clouds on the title to real estate. The exception to this is when the property has an IRS lien against it for unpaid income taxes by the property owner. There... More
  • On February 27, 2019, two new required municipal securities disclosure events will come into effect pursuant to amendments to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Rule 15c2-12. The amendments apply to municipal securities issued on or after February 27, 2019. Currently, there are 14 different events for which notices must be filed pursuant to Rule 15c2-12, which include events such as rating... More
  • Local appeals boards are usually in the habit of considering the particularized injury prong of the standing test, but often brush over the participation prong. The Lincoln County Superior Court recently issued a decision in Our Town, et. al. v. Town of Damariscotta, et. al. (Lin. Cty. Super. Ct. Dkt. WISSC-AP-2018-3), which serves as a good reminder to local boards of appeals that they have... More
  • Municipalities own real estate that they convey to third parties in a variety of situations. Most often this occurs in the context of conveying property the town acquired because of unpaid property taxes back to the taxpayer once the past due amounts have been paid in full, but also in the context of municipal-owned property in industrial parks and other property suitable for development. Almost... More
  • “The phrase ‘domestic cats’ is an oxymoron.” —George Will Municipalities must deal with a wide variety of issues involving animals, from dangerous dogs to animals on highways, alive and dead. Funds for the Animal Control Officer (ACO) are limited due to budget constraints and the ACO may not be experienced in dealing with certain issues, such as the problems involving feral or so-called... More
  • In Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Town of Hanover, _____ N.H. _____ (2018), decided November 6, 2018, the New Hampshire Supreme Court reversed the decision of the trial court, which had upheld the Hanover Planning Board’s decision denying Dartmouth College’s proposed construction of a new Indoor Practice Facility (“IPF”). Dartmouth sought approval for a 69,860 square foot IPF within the... More
  • Governor Janet T. Mills is being inaugurated today as Maine’s first female Governor. Municipal officials and leaders throughout the state should expect a more positive relationship between the Governor and the State of Maine and local municipal government during this new administration. As everyone is well aware, despite having been the former Mayor of Waterville, Governor Paul LePage had a very... More
  • According to a recent decision from Maine’s Superior Court, the answer depends on whether a municipality is seeking injunctive relief, such as an abatement of a zoning violation, or whether the municipality is seeking only monetary penalties. Where a town is seeking primarily injunctive or equitable relief, there is no right to a jury trial. In Town of Lebanon v. McDonough (York County, Aug.... More
  • December 13 was the effective date for bills passed by the 128th Legislature, including LD 1539, An Act to Amend Maine’s Medical Marijuana Law. Prior to this amendment, medical marijuana stores had gotten around the five-patient limit by eliminating one patient from their roster when the next one walked through the door. The law now formally allows medical marijuana caregivers to serve an... More
  • 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