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News and Articles

Rights-of-Way 101

By: Jason D. Reimers, Esq.

Lately I have been getting a lot of calls and emails about right-of-way issues from past clients and new clients.  It is very common for a property to either benefit from or be subject to a right-of-way.  A right-of-way is a legal right of access or crossing over land owned by someone else.   A right-of-way is generally found in a recorded deed, but it can also be established, in certain circumstances, by usage.

Here is a common scenario involving two side-by-side properties, otherwise known as “abutting” properties.  Property A has a right-of-way over Property B.  The deed to Property A states that the property itself is being conveyed (i.e., sold or transferred) along with the right to pass over the land of Property B for ingress and egress (i.e., coming and going) to Property A.  The deed language might refer to the right-of-way as an easement over Property B.  The deed to Property B states that the property is “subject to” the right-of-way of Property A.  The right-of-way may have first been created when a larger property was subdivided, thereby creating Properties A and B, and, in order for the owners of Property A to access their property from a town road, they would need to cut through Property B.

Questions often arise about how the right-of-way may be used.  A right-of-way for the ingress and egress to a residential lot may generally be used for all uses ordinary to a residential use.  Assuming the right-of-way is the only, or at least the primary, access way to Property A, the owners of Property A may install utilities along the road.  This probably includes underground utilities, such as water pipes, and above-ground utilities such as poles carrying electric, telephone, and cable wires.  Also included in an ingress/egress residential right-of-way is the right to maintain the right-of-way, which may include paving the right-of-way if desired.

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NHDES’s New Wetlands Rules

By: Jason D. Reimers, Esq.

NHDES is the State of New Hampshire’s Department of Environmental Services.   NHDES regulates air pollution, alteration of terrain, waste management, drinking water, dams, shorelands, wetlands, and other environmental matters.  NHDES’s enforcement (or lack thereof) of New Hampshire’s environmental statutes and administrative rules is a perennial source of disagreement and frustration depending which side you are on in any particular matter.  I have clients who are seeking permits from NHDES, and I have clients who are opposed to permit applications that others have filed with NHDES.  I have clients who want NHDES to investigate apparent violations of statutes and rules, and I have clients who are the subjects of such investigations and allegations.

This article is focused on NHDES’s regulation of wetlands and, specifically, NHDES’s current efforts at overhauling its wetlands administrative rules.  In 1989, the New Hampshire legislature enacted a wetlands protection statute that has since been amended several times.  The wetlands protection statute is contained in our State law as RSA 482-A, which you can easily find by searching “RSA 482-A” online or by going directly to the NHDES website.  RSA 482-A requires NHDES to adopt administrative rules to flesh out the details of the statute.  Both the statute and the administrative rules are law.  NHDES is currently in the process of heavily revising the current version of the wetlands rules.

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How To Protect Your Land And Reduce Your Taxes

By: Jason D. Reimers, Esq.

A conservation easement deed is a contract by which a landowner conveys the development rights of the land to a land trust or government agency.  A conservation easement lasts forever and is a way to conserve open space, farmland, scenic views, and other natural resources.  After a conservation easement is conveyed to a land trust, for example, the landowner continues to own the land.

A conservation easement deed is a negotiated document, by which I mean that a landowner and land trust reach an agreement about what uses will be allowed and not allowed on the property.  More often than not, the landowner continues to use the land in much the same way as prior to the easement.  The conservation easement deed will almost always require that the easement holder (i.e., the land trust or government agency) regularly monitor the property to ensure that the terms of the easement are being followed and that no one, such as a neighbor who builds a shed over the property line, is violating the easement.

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BCM Sponsors 2018 Lakes Congress

BCM Environmental & Land Law was proud to sponsor the NH Lakes Association’s 2018 Lakes Congress, which took place on May 31st and June 1st.  This year marked the 25th anniversary of the annual education, training, and networking event.  Lake stewards, lake management professionals, lake-related business leaders, NHDES officials, and municipal and political leaders all came together to exchange information, ideas and experiences, and introduce new approaches to help manage and protect New Hampshire’s lakes. The conference was a record-breaking success! It was sold-out and many of 203 attendees reported that the program was spectacular.

BCM Continues to Fight the Proposed Northern Pass Project

Amy Manzelli, Esq., in collaboration with the entire BCM team, representing the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, argued successfully against a Motion to Recuse two members of the Site Evaluation Committee filed by the Business Intervenor Group in the Northern Pass matter.  Amy asserted that the Group failed “to appreciate the difference between a decision-maker denying a motion for rehearing because the moving party failed to persuade her and a decision-maker who has predetermined the outcome prior to a hearing.”  The SEC has previously voted 7-0 to deny a certificate of site and facility for the proposed project.

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Amy Manzelli Presents at Agritourism and Right to Farm Policy Summit

Photo courtesy of A.R. Braver.

Amy Manzelli shared her extensive Agritourism and Right-to-Farm knowledge with a full house at the Agritourism and Right to Farm Policy Summit sponsored by the Council of State Governments in Providence, Rhode Island on April 20-21, 2018. Amy discussed various issues that face northern New England agricultural professionals, including federal laws, local zoning and land use regulations, and the current legal trends regarding agritourism.  As always, Amy received rave reviews, as the attendees found her presentation to be informative and engaging.

 

BCM Attorneys Collaborate to Help Create the Farmland Access Legal Toolkit

Amy Manzelli and other BCM Attorneys have been working with Heyman Legal and the Vermont Law School Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) to create the Farmland Access Legal Toolkit, which launched on March 8th.

The Toolkit is a free, web-based resource designed to provide legal tools to new farmers looking for land and retiring farmers ready to transfer land to a new generation.  BCM is proud of its collaborative efforts with CAFS and is looking forward to continuing to work with them to educate and inform farmers and other agricultural professionals well into the future.

 

Amy Manzelli Works with the NH Coalition for Sustaining Agriculture to Create the Local Regulation of Agriculture Toolkit

The New Hampshire Coalition for Sustaining Agriculture, in partnership with Amy Manzelli, has created the Local Regulation of Agriculture Toolkit. The Toolkit is destined to become a must-have resource for farmers and municipal decision-makers to guide the development of local farm-friendly regulatory environments in which agricultural enterprises can operate successfully.

The Toolkit: (1) identifies and provides a flow chart of state laws governing farming and agricultural activities; (2) provides recommendations for best practices for agriculture for local planning regulations and code enforcement processes; (3) discusses the relationship between state laws and town laws; and (4) contains resources for assistance for farmers and municipalities to address conflicts and pro-actively develop farm-friendly regulatory environments.

Amy has been on-the-road with the Coalition to promote the Toolkit at various professional events, including the NH Municipal Association Annual Conference, the NH Farm & Forest Exposition, and the NH Office of Strategic Initiatives Annual Spring Planning and Zoning Conference.  If you’ve been lucky enough to attend one of these presentations, you know that Amy’s presentation was very informative; in fact, one attendee went as far as to describe Amy from Agriculture as “awesome!!!”

 

BCM Excited to Underwrite Saving Special Places

BCM Environmental & Land Law was pleased to once again underwrite Saving Special Places, NH’s annual land conservation conference, which took place on Saturday, April 7th. This annual conference gathers land conservationists to provide focused and timely education and discussion about a variety conservation-related issues, including wildlife & forest management, conservation easement tax benefits, climate change adaptation, valuation of conservation easements, re-imagining conservation, accreditation, stewardship, timber harvesting, and option to purchase for agricultural value. Amy Manzelli presented a seminar on adverse possession.  Jason Reimers and Kelsey Peterson both also attended this highly successful event.

Kelsey Peterson Appointed to New Hampton Boards

BCM attorneys are encouraged to give back to the communities in which they live and work.  In line with this ideal, we are pleased to announce that Kelsey Peterson has recently been appointed as an alternate to both the Town of New Hampton Planning Board and the Town of New Hampton Conservation Commission. Kelsey is excited to pitch-in and contribute to her community.  We’re sure everyone will be appreciative of her knowledge, expertise, and hard-working attitude.  Congratulations, Kelsey!