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

  • In preparation for Maine’s celebration of the 2020 Bicentennial (I am sure everyone remembers that we became a State in 1820 because of the Missouri Compromise), the State is offering grants to state and local governments, including municipalities, nonprofit organizations, schools and other organizations in partnership with the above. The Maine Bicentennial Commission will be distributing $... More
  • In a recent case, Dietz et al. v. Town of Tuftonboro (decided January 28, 2019), the New Hampshire Supreme Court held that a Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) did not have to make written findings to support the granting of an equitable waiver pursuant to RSA 674:33-a. In that case, the owner of a house on Lake Winnipesaukee sought an equitable waiver because two additions that it had built (and... More
  • Maine’s Law Court recently issued a brief decision reminding Freedom of Access Act (FOAA) practitioners that FOAA complaints are subject to dismissal, like any other complaint, where they fail to allege facts that would entitle a plaintiff to relief under the statute.  The facts in the case, Dubois v. Town of Arundel, involved a denial by the Town of Arundel’s Planning Board of an application... More
  • When was the last time you checked your animal-related ordinances to confirm that they were keeping up with, and meeting the needs of, your ever-changing community? These ordinances are easy to overlook until you need them and then, unfortunately, the tools you need may not be there. Maine law provides broad authority to enact and enforce animal-related ordinances.  We see in our state,... More
  • Last session, the Maine Legislature passed LD 1539, which provided that registered medical marijuana caregivers could serve an unlimited number of patients. The law also requires municipalities to “opt in” if they wish to allow medical marijuana caregivers to open retail storefronts. We are all thankful for the clear language as to medical marijuana retail stores, but one aspect of the law that... More
  • 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