Superior Court Overturns Boat Storage Decision

Freedom – May 1, 2009 – A State Superior Court judge has reversed the Freedom Zoning Board of Adjustment’s approval of increased boat storage at Ossipee Lake Marina. In a five-page order this week, Judge Steven M. Houran ruled that increased storage is an impermissible expansion of a non-conforming use under Freedom’s zoning ordinance.

In January 2007 the Zoning Board authorized marina owner Kevin Price to keep an unlimited number of boats and trailers on the property. In doing so, it overturned a 1997 Zoning Board ruling that set a limit of 225 boats indoors and 10% additional outdoors as a condition for boat storage at the marina, which is a grandfathered business in the town’s residential district.

The Board’s decision to abandon the limits prompted a public rebuke by members of the 1997 Zoning Board, including former vice-chairman Don Bossi, who said it would attract a lawsuit because it was “in total disregard” of a 2003 Superior Court ruling that upheld the limits.

Bossi also accused the Board of making its decision “without any thought about fire, vehicle access or neighborhood economic and environmental impact,” which he said were issues his Board considered when it set the limits.

Other critics complained about the ongoing expense to taxpayers of marina litigation stemming from years of zoning and environmental violations. They noted in particular that taxpayers would be paying for the town counsel, Peter Malia, to argue against the same limits he defended in the same courtroom just a few years before.

Judge Houran’s ruling this week is the second Superior Court defeat for the Zoning Board in the current case. In November 2007 Judge Edward Fitzgerald overturned the Board when he ruled the marina’s application to expand boat storage was “substantially the same” as what the ZBA had already turned down.

A Supreme Court judge subsequently found an error in Fitzgerald’s ruling and remanded the case to Superior Court for a re-trial, which took place this past February. The current ruling against the Zoning Board stems from the February re-trial.

The decision whether to appeal this latest ruling rests solely with Freedom’s Board of Selectmen because, in an unusual aspect to the case, marina owner Price never requested intervener status in the matter. That leaves the cost of the case, and decisions on appeals, in the hands of town officials.

A history of legal issues at Ossipee Lake Marina can be found by clicking here.

5 Comments

  1. freedom resident 12 years ago May 1, 2009

    Is this finally over???? Can our hard earned tax dollars be spent on something else? Please?

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  2. Ted 12 years ago May 1, 2009

    Freedom-loving Americans everywhere beware: when the courts can force a town to stop spending your tax dollars to defend the blatantly illegal expansion of a local business whose owner is friends with town officials, then the terrorists have won.

    As Price himself has said many, many times: his business can’t succeed without his being allowed to do whatever he wants whenever he wants, even though his marina has a lock on local business by virtue of being a pre-existing non-conforming use in a town that doesn’t allow marinas, and even though several previous owners operated it very profitably for years while operating under the rules. Forget all that; any limits on Price’s freedom to do whatever he wants whenever he wants (and have the town pay the resulting legal bills) will put him out of business, and besides, are communist.

    Price’s business is good for all of us, in a purely theoretical way, so if the town can’t spend our money on his marina then we should all march down there and demand that they pay to paint his house, or something. Maybe build him an indoor pool. Or a carriage house.

    Is there any word on the rumors of a RICO investigation into how the town has operated in this matter?

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  3. Jim 12 years ago May 3, 2009

    I can’t get over this BS about boat storage. Neighbors sound like a bunch of rich cry babies.

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  4. Don Bossi 12 years ago May 4, 2009

    I told you so………!
    Now pressure the Selectmen to drop this case, save our money and move on.

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  5. joe 12 years ago May 7, 2009

    People have too much time on their hands. The current boat storage this winter worked fine. All boats meet fire code which allowed for access and those neighbors that have an issue with this can not even see the marina where the boat are stored during the winter and many are not even residents of the town. Get over it. As a voter and resident of Freedom I think the marina is a great place for winter storage. It hurts no one. The only people that are wasting tax payer dollars are those that keep sticking their nose in places they don’t belong. If you have such a problem with the way the marina runs, make an ofter to buy the place and I like to see you run a profitable marina with yahoos like you around trying to shut it down because you have too much time on your hands and no life, don’t try and be a back seat driver you are wasting town money and your money. If you need to get ride of some money I will take it off your hands or better yet actually spend it on milfoil removal. Do some good.

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