Legal Q & A

Welfare Appeals: Fair Hearings

There may be times when even the most thorough and well thought out decision by a welfare administrator on a request for local assistance is met with less than enthusiastic agreement by the welfare applicant. In fact, the applicant may feel that the decision is completely wrong and that an injustice has occurred. When a decision is made by a local welfare administrator to grant assistance, to deny assistance, or to suspend assistance for non-compliance with guidelines, the applicant has a right to appeal that decision.

Budget Shortfalls: Know Your Options

Does this sound familiar? Several months remain in the fiscal year, and one or more lines in the budget have been (or are about to be) entirely spent. Maybe it is April, the snow removal budget is gone, and you are hoping it does not snow this coming November. Or the local welfare budget has been spent, and there are still residents who require assistance—which the law requires you to provide. Now what?

Zoning Board of Adjustment Decisions: Quorums, Voting and Fairness

Fairness is a recurrent issue in zoning board of adjustment proceedings because of the statutory requirement that “the concurring vote of 3 members of the board shall be necessary to reverse any action of the administrative official or to decide in favor of the applicant on any matter on which it is required to pass." RSA 674:33, III.

The Thorny Issue of Street Names and Address Numbers

C. Christine Fillmore

The Municipal Budget Law: Frequently Asked Questions

As budget season arrives, municipal budget committees and governing bodies across the state are beginning to work through the process of creating budget proposals, holding hearings and ultimately presenting a budget to voters.

Ex Parte Communications and Land Use Boards

Q. What is an “ex parte" communication?
This is a Latin term that means “by or for one party." In this instance, it refers to communication between a land use board member and a person interested in an application, without other interested persons, other board members or the public being present.

Q. Are these types of discussions a problem for land use boards?
Yes, if an ex parte contact occurs, several different problems could arise when that contact is eventually disclosed.

A Potpourri of Frequently Asked Legal Questions

This month’s Q&A represents a departure from our usual single topic format. The staff attorneys of LGC’s Legal Services and Government Affairs Department answer thousands of questions each year posed by local officials from towns and cities both large and small. Following are some of those questions on various topics that we hope you will find useful to your work as a local official.

What is the Role of Alternate Land Use Board Members?

Alternate members are the unsung heroes of local land use boards. Both planning boards and zoning boards of adjustment (ZBAs) may be authorized to appoint standing “pools" of up to five alternate members for each board. RSA 673:6. Alternates are vital to the proper functioning of these boards because conflicts of interest often disqualify one or more members from participating in an application or appeal.

When Does Zoning Apply to Governmental Use of Land?

A zoning ordinance is a comprehensive system to regulate the timing and manner of development in a municipality. Ordinarily, all land use within a town or city is subject to the local zoning ordinance and land use regulations. However, it may be surprising to learn that the law provides an exception for “governmental uses" of land.

Town Elections Are Over, But Is There a Vacancy?

Q. What if no one filed to run for an elected office, or someone declines to serve after being elected? How is the position filled?