Meadow appeal denied
The Hanover zoning board Monday night rejected an appeal of its decision to allow a facility for people recovering from mental illness to move into town.
Merry Meadow Farm received zoning board approval last month to establish a seven-patient facility at 1 Prospect Street, a house located at the intersection of Allen and Prospect Streets two blocks west of Everything But Anchovies.
Hanover attorney William Clausen filed an appeal last week for Anne Johnson and Deborah Johnson Pyles, owners of the neighboring house. The appeal petitioned the board for a rehearing.
In a two-hour meeting Monday evening, the board discussed each of the 10 points in Clausen's written appeal before voting four to one not to rehear the case, board member Jan Scott said.
Johnson and Pyles have 30 days in which to appeal the zoning board's decision to the New Hampshire Superior Court. The court would then rule to deny, uphold or call for a rehearing of the decision which allowed Merry Meadow to operate within the town's residential district.
Pyles said she will consult with her sister before deciding whether to pursue the matter in court.
"Chances are pretty good we'll go ahead and appeal," she said.
Johnson and Pyles, neither of whom live in Hanover, inherited the four-apartment house and have been trying to sell it.
The appeal claimed that the board did not follow proper procedures in considering the Merry Meadow case.
The board discussed the allegations of procedural irregularities and considered whether the appeal brought forth any information the board had not previously considered before voting not to rehear the case, Scott said.
"There was no problem with our due process," Scott said. "It's the same process we use at all our hearings."
Board member William Fischel, who is an economics professor at the College, cast the only dissenting vote Monday night. Fischel was also the only member to vote against Merry Meadow in the original decision.
Scott said the board spent most of its time at Monday's hearing discussing Clausen's claim that board member John Fredyma, an attorney who voted for Merry Meadow in the original decision, had a conflict of interest in the case because he had a client at Merry Meadow's Bradford, Vt. facility.
But this was not the case, Scott said, and the board dismissed Clausen's claim.
The zoning board voted four to one last month to grant Merry Meadow an amendment to the special zoning exception which allows David's House, the current owner of 1 Prospect St., to operate in the town's residential district.
Merry Meadow director Betty Williams said the facility has a contract to purchase the 1 Prospect Street building from David's House, a non-profit organization that provides lodging for the families of children undergoing treatment at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
Merry Meadow must obtain a medical license from the state before it can open. One requirement for the license is that the facility has received zoning board approval, Williams said.
If Johnson and Pyles appeal to the court, the case may be tied up in litigation for as long as a year, Clausen said in an interview last week.
Williams said she is unsure how such a delay would affect the state license but added that David's House would not be able to move to its new facility in Lebanon until it sells the 1 Prospect Street house.
"If this is going to break David's House I'd release them from the contract," Williams said. "I couldn't live with that."