Ossipee — January 6, 2018 — A judge is weighing whether Ossipee voters should have a second chance to decide whether they want to spend $1.2 million to buy a town beach and if a gag order can be imposed on the seller. On Dec. 5, Ossipee selectmen filed for a temporary restraining order against Diane Sheehan, asserting that after signing a contract agreeing to sell 53 acres of land with 200 feet of frontage on Ossipee Lake, she began a campaign to dissuade voters from approving the purchase.
“She encouraged voters to vote against it. That’s just blatant contract breach,” Town Attorney Richard Sager said during Wednesday’s hearing.
During a special town meeting on Nov. 28, residents were asked to vote on the land deal to be paid for via $200,000 raised through taxation and to bond the remaining $1 million. The vote was 297 in favor and 171 opposed — 15 shy of the two-thirds majority needed. Sager told Judge Amy Ignatious that before a recount of the vote had been complete, Sheehan signed a purchase and sales agreement with Paul Fitts and John Seda for the same price offered by the town.
“There was just bad faith all over the place,” he said.
The town wants an injunction preventing Sheehan from selling the land to remain in effect until Town Meeting, March 13-14, when the beach purchase would again be put before voters.
“This isn’t about buying a Chevy, but a unique piece of property and they should be given another shot without her interference,” Sager said of voters.
Sheehan’s lawyer, Phillip Marbury, said the legal issue is not one of contract, but of free speech. The town not only wants the court to keep the injunction in place, but to muzzle his client from participating in the local political process.
“Shouldn’t someone who sets it in motion and then changes their mind bear some responsibility,” the judge asked.
Marbury said there was no specific wording in the contract preventing Sheehan from speaking her mind.
“She engaged in political discourse, which is her right. She didn’t subvert or remove the benefit of the bargain for the town,” he said.
Marbury said negotiations between Sheehan and the town were initially cordial but after she expressed some misgivings, she said she felt bullied by Board of Selectmen Chairman Rick Morgan.
Sheehan claims that Morgan told her she had a binding agreement with the town because they had shaken hands on the deal and that if she refused to sign, the town would file suit.
Sager told the judge that Morgan last met with Sheehan on Aug. 14 and that she had two days to review the purchase and sales agreement with her legal counsel before she signed it on Aug. 16.
Judge Ignatious is expected to issue a ruling in about 30 days.
There was already a vote that should be honored. If another vote is allowed, it shouldn’t happen in March when some residents may be on their winter break.
every third word out of Chairman Rick Morgan mouth is a lie ,,,, a price of pica would cover the cost ,,the boaters and 45 renters would also pay for it ,,,,,, and then Sheehan changed course for the sole purpose of jacking up the price others would be willing to pay for the property. ((( all lies )))because they had shaken hands on the deal and that if she refused to sign, the town would file suit ,,,true,,, now he wants to throw out the boaters and 45 camp sites ,,,,,,Richard did you forget the, three conditions. First, the main road leading into the campground will remain named Gretchen Road. Second, no birch trees will be removed along Gretchen Road unless absolutely necessary for public safety. Lastly, the town will “continue to allow campers to rent campsites on the property until at least the 2020 season” and the rents will not be increased for three years(((( any changes would void the contract)))) (((vote was 297 in favor and 171 opposed — 15 shy of the two-thirds majority needed )))just . there should be a law suit against the town of Ossipee for the abuse the three select (people) had put on the Sheehan’s ,,,,or is this business as usual
I can’t believe this is still going on. When I watched the meeting Mr Morgan said if it was voted no then it was over. Were is all this money coming from to fighr this. now the town people filed against town who put them up to that ? Were do they think there is a bigger place to vote. why can’t the select men just let this go.This makes the town of ossipee look so bad . This whole thing just makes me sick
I am appalled at the arrogance and bullying by our selectboard. As I understand it, there were initial promises to keep the campground among others. By time we got to vote on it, the long time campers were told vacate and go find somewhere else to camp. Not what Mrs. Sheehan had initially agreed to.
All I can do is promise to vote in the negative again! And also to vote my conscience for selectmen.
Richard H. Morgan Chairman (2019)
Robert C. Freeman Selectman (2018)
Sandra “Sam” Putnam Martin Selectman (2020)
I am on my winter break and want to vote if they get another chance. I want an absentee ballot
What an embarrassment of the democratic process in the town of Ossipee. All this from the “bully squad”, board of Selectmen.
Obviously honesty and integrity aren’t things Richard Morgan prides himself on. I’d expect more from such a long public servant, especially a Police Officer. Absolutely disgraceful.
I find it shocking and amusing that the person who is suing the town because the vote/town meeting wasn’t conducted correctly contributed to the incorrectness by allowing her 8 yr old son to speak at the meeting. As far as I knew, only registered voters were allowed to speak at that last meeting. Since when is an 8 year old boy a registered voter?