Valley News – Developer appeals Lebanon’s decision to torpedo Prospect Hills housing project
Published: 05/15/2021 10:58:21 PM
Modified: 05/15/2021 22:58:26
LEBANON – A Manchester development company is using a new path in its appeal for the city’s decision to effectively kill a 117-unit project near Lebanon Middle School, saying the proposal has been met with “hostility and aversion” by responsible.
Brady Sullivan argues that Lebanon’s Planning Council acted unfairly when it voted unanimously in March to deny the Prospect Hills Subdivision an extension needed to begin work on its second phase.
At the time, officials said they gave the developer enough leeway. The second phase – a mix of single-family homes and townhouse-style units on a 40-acre wooded lot off Prospect Street – was first proposed 15 years ago, and the Planning Council has issued renewals in 2016 and 2018.
Brady Sullivan maintains that he would have achieved those goals if the COVID-19 pandemic had not interfered with the company’s work. In its appeal, the company says it planned to start construction in the spring of 2020, but was delayed.
The Planning Council’s decision effectively throws millions of dollars already spent on engineering and offsite work, according to Brady Sullivan’s attorney, John Cronin.
“The ability to build this season when conditions are right is now lost,” he wrote, later adding: “Construction costs are skyrocketing by the day, interest rates are rising and political leaders are pushing ahead. warning against substantial tax increases. “
Unlike most land use cases, the appeal will not be heard by the Superior Court, but rather by the New Hampshire Housing Appeals Board, a new body specially designed to resolve land disputes.
The council was created by the Legislature last year as an alternative to the court system, where criminal cases take precedence and land use appeals sometimes take years to resolve. Prospect Hills’s appeal is scheduled to be heard on June 30.
Brady Sullivan asks the board to overturn the Lebanon Planning Board’s decision and grant the promoter “reasonable costs, expenses and attorney’s fees.”
Much of the case hinges on whether the Prospect Hills Subdivision acquired “grandfather” rights before the city refused the extension. The acquisition occurs when a developer completes “substantial construction” on a project or has incurred “significant liabilities,” the New Hampshire Supreme Court has ruled.
Brady Sullivan’s Appeal argues that he met this standard because the developer made a “substantial investment” in the project, hoping to make money once the homes were sold later.
However, the city says Brady Sullivan never actually started the preparatory work for Phase 2, and as of September was still attempting to cordon off the first 54 homes around Mountain View Drive. Money spent on this initial project should not count for the second, wrote Lebanon’s lawyer Christine Fillmore.
She went on to say that Brady Sullivan’s allure does not explain how the developer was treated with “hostility and dislike”. If anything, she said, city staff have given Brady Sullivan more help than a company with properties across New Hampshire should need.
If the company had intended to start building this year, Fillmore said, “They would have filed for the extension long before 10/12/2020 rather than more than a month after.
Lebanon’s planning director David Brooks declined to comment further on the case on Friday, and a message left at Cronin’s office was not returned.
The Prospect Hills project began in 2005 with plans by Lebanese Erik and Treff Moulton to build and sell houses on the site. Their company, M&M Equities, began working on the first phase until the project fell into a difficult financial period during the Great Recession.
The Moultons filed for bankruptcy in the summer of 2009 with only six homes completed. The mortgage deeds were sold a year later to Brady Sullivan, which changed the scope of development into homes in the price range of $ 180,000 to $ 255,000.
Single-family homes in the first phase of the project have sold for around $ 315,000 in recent years, although one is currently on the market for $ 425,000.
Tim Camerato can be reached at [email protected] or 603-727-3223.