New Hampshire’s Housing Appeals Board now open for business

Newly established panel seen as expediting development process

House Model And Gavel On Law BookNew Hampshire’s newly established three-member Housing Appeals Board has begun accepting planning and zoning appeals, ushering in what proponents of the panel see as an important change to help meet the state’s affordable housing shortage.

Created in the last legislative session, the board is modeled on the Board of Tax and Land Appeals. It is as an attempt to settle disputes between developers and municipalities without going to Superior Court. The board, like a court, can overrule or remand a local board’s decision and then either side could appeal the board’s decision, just as in Superior Court, to the state Supreme Court.

Under the law, appeals must be filed with the board within 30 days of a final decision at the local level. Within 30 days of receiving notice, the local planning or zoning board is required to submit a certified record of its proceedings on the issue. Within 90 days, the board is required to hold a hearing on the merits, and within 60 days of concluding the hearing on the merits, the board is required to make a decision on the appeal. All told, it’s hoped the entire process takes six months, as opposed to the years it can often take going through the courts.

Another key difference from the court process is that, unlike in Superior Court, parties are permitted to be represented by non-attorneys, including engineers, architects and land surveyors.

The three members of the board – appointed by the New Hampshire Supreme Court – are Gregory Michael, an attorney, with Bernstein Shur, who is chair of the board; land surveyor Marc Stevens; and real estate broker Elizabeth Fischer.

The board’s offices are located in Johnson Hall Suite 201, at the Gallen State Office Park, 107 Pleasant St., , Concord. For more information, email or call 603-271-1198.

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