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

  • 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
  • NHRSA 76:16, I(a) provides that “Selectmen or assessors, for good cause shown, may abate any tax, including prior years’ taxes, assessed by them or by their predecessors, including any portion of interest accrued on such tax. . . .” For many years, municipal attorneys and tax assessors in New Hampshire have proceeded in the belief that the only grounds for abatement of real estate taxes were... More
  • Updating our previous post on the fate of LD 1650, Governor LePage last week vetoed the bill and set the stage for action at the State House on Monday, where the Legislature was deciding whether to override the Governor’s veto. A two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate was required to overcome a veto. We now know the result: the veto has been sustained, with the House voting 74-62 to... More
  • LD 1650, An Act to Amend the Marijuana Legalization Act, was passed in both the House and the Senate on October 23, 2017. Governor LePage has until November 2, 2017, to sign the bill, veto the bill or allow it to become law without his signature. The 77-page bill comprehensively rewrites the legalization bill enacted by Citizens’ Referendum now one full year ago. Legalization of marijuana has... More
  • Maine’s Superior Court recently affirmed a decision from the Maine Labor Relations Board (MLRB) finding that two municipal supervisory employees were “public employees” with the right to collectively bargain under Maine’s Municipal Public Employees Labor Relations law (MPELR). The decision is noteworthy because it sheds light on two exceptions to the definition of “public employee” under the... More
  • In the last installment of Let's Talk Municipal Finance, I discussed municipalities and governmental entities that issue bonds, a form of municipal debt. An alternative to incurring municipal debt and less onerous option for a municipality that is, for example, looking to purchase a new piece of equipment, is a municipal lease purchase agreement.  Like ordinary lease purchase agreements,... More
  • Earlier this year, Maine’s Superior Court issued a decision in Blasco v. Town of Southport that provides a useful reminder for municipalities about appeals of code enforcement actions. The case involved an 80B appeal of a notice of violation that had been issued by the Town of Southport’s code enforcement officer. The plaintiff filed the appeal pursuant to a provision in Southport’s land use... More
  • As of early June 2017, Maine’s implementation of the legalization of marijuana for adult use continues to chug along. The Maine Legislature’s Joint-Select Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee has been meeting several times per week now for months, poring over the initiated Marijuana Legalization Act and each potential facet of the forthcoming structure it has called for.After the MLA’s... More
  • Municipalities put a lot of thought into comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances to make sure that no uses are allowed which will cause negative impacts on a given neighborhood. However, we often see ordinances that inexplicably allow any type of use in a district as long as it is an accessory use. “Accessory uses” are usually defined as being incidental and subordinate to the principal use of... More
  • Cady v. Town of Deerfield In Cady v. Town of Deerfield, decided January 18, 2017, the New Hampshire Supreme Court dealt with the question of the extent to which the deliberative session of the Town Meeting in a Senate Bill 2 municipality may amend a warrant article.  A Senate Bill 2 town is one which has adopted the provisions of RSA 40:13 and which accordingly conducts its town meetings in... More
  • Over the last several years, the National Labor Relations Act has driven much of the discussion around the legalities of social networking policies. Since 2011, for example, the NLRB’s Office of General Counsel has issued three reports concerning employer social media policies, all of which emphasize the importance of drafting social media policies narrowly so as not to infringe on activities... More
  • Maine's Biennial Budget Legislative work continues to steadily flow in Augusta, Maine as more bills are taken up by policy committees and many of them are meeting passage or being killed. In addition, the state’s biennial budget is slowly inching forward as the Appropriations & Financial Committee has accepted non-controversial initiatives, and will soon tackle the more contentious ones.... More
  • In the pending case of Brunswick Citizens for Collaborative Government, et al. v. Town of Brunswick, (Cumberland County Superior Court) the Petitioners claim that the Town of Brunswick failed to follow its Charter procedure to hold a public hearing and potential referendum election after receiving signed petitions.   The case involves a piece of property that the Town Council had voted to... More
  • In my previous installment, I discussed several financing alternatives available to municipalities and certain other governmental entities to supplement revenues from their tax base or user fees. One common option is the issuance of bonds, either independently, or through a pooled issuance.  The Issuance of Bonds The first step to issuing a bond is the approval process at the local level.... More