At the October 18, 2016 of the Henniker Board of Selectmen meeting Item #7 proved to be a bit confusing. One of the main issues of the discussion was a piece of property owned by Mr. Bill Russell. In 2010 Mr. Russell’s property became mired in the murky waters of development, improvement, frontage on roads and the town’s control over building permits. (ZBA case read here)
The case eventually was settled by a ruling of the New Hampshire Supreme Court. (read case review here)
Once again the Mr. Russell’s property has become a topic of discussion by our town officials. I asked for a copy of all supporting information that was not subject to RSA 91:A exemption and Henniker complied. All documents in this blog have come from the Town of Henniker.
What I read and what the video shows, is very disturbing. The town without ever contacting Mr. Russell to discuss their concerns over recent findings, immediately took a very adversarial posture towards Mr. Russell. russell-property10282016_0001
Upon first contact, the town’s attorney speaks of “doomage” tax (4x the normal taxation) and sending a not so nice letter to Mr. Russell doesn’t seem tome to be a good place to start from…you be the judge:
“The starting place may be to send a letter, advising the owner of what you have discovered, and what the potential penalties are. He should be asked to permit an inspection, and to meet with the selectmen. He should be told that if he does not wish to cooperate the town will have no choice but to turn the matter over to the town’s attorney who will be instructed to seek an injunction, fines and attorney’s fees. Further, the selectmen will assess doomage in the amount of 4x the tax that would have been assessed on the property. I do not think the letter needs to be “nice.” Plainly, the owner knew what he was doing, and has deprived the other tax payers of the taxes that are do. I see no reason why the selectmen should not assess doomage. The land should be withdrawn from CU.If he does not cooperate, you will need to turn the matter over to me. Bart”russell-property10282016_0001
Is this the path that you want your Board of Selectmen to go down? I wonder why this letter was not read out loud at the meeting????
I took the initiative to speak directly with Mr. Russell. I learned that the situation regarding the property in question appears to have changed significantly since that Supreme Court ruling in 2011.
I think the town should call him and cordially invite him to a meeting with the Select Board…treat all our property owners with respect…before we have another legal mess on our hands!