Planning Board of Holland denied resident right to divide his property

During the public meeting this past Tuesday evening, the Planning Board finally signed Peter Frei’s ANR plan (approval not required plan). "Lynn It was more than six years ago when Frei submitted his ANR plan for the first time to the Board. Instead of signing his plan as the law required the Planning Board to do, the Planning Board refused to sign the plan and Frei filed suit against the Board in Superior Court. Frei:

“It was Earl Johnson who called the shots during the planning board meetings back in 2002; the rest of the members just followed his lead.”

During the following six years, a total of 68 motions and other documents were filed, among them a petition to the single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court. Frei:

“It was a simple matter. However, town counsel Vincent McCaughey misrepresented the law to the judge during the trial in order to win the case and Superior Court Judge Bertha Josephson obviously didn’t see the need to check his misleading statements. McCaughey after all, took an oath not to do what he did and I was just a layman representing myself.“

Frei who owns a 5 acre peninsula that jets into Hamilton Reservoir intended to divide the already subdivided parcel into three building lots in order to sell the lots. Frei had already a signed contract to sell one of the lots and couldn't because of the planning board's refusal to endorse his plan. Frei:

“All I wanted to do is dived the property and sell the lots. By now there would be three more houses on the peninsula, most likely weekend homes with a combined taxable value of at least $1’000’000.”

Weekend homes are a perfect source for property taxes as the children of families that spend weekends on the lake attend schools in other towns. Frei:

“Instead of following the law and do the right thing and in the process increase the tax revenues, the town choose to waste in my estimation in excess of $100’000 of tax payers money in legal fees over the past six years. It just doesn’t make any sense,”

Frei said. Frei who had to sue the town before and had justice served by the judiciary was forced to appeal the erroneous Superior Court judgment that was reached in his opinion as a result of town counsel’s misleading written closing argument. Frei:

“I was in contact with the New England Legal Foundation who offered to file an amicus brief on my behalf if necessary. Besides town counsel McCaughey, the selectboard hired one of the super lawyers of Massachusetts, attorney Nancy Frankel Pelletier from the law firm Robinson and Donovan out of Springfield.”

Despite the considerable effort to win the appeal at an enormous cost to the taxpayer, the Appeals Court of the Commonwealth vacated in its rescript the erroneous judgment issued by Superior Court Judge Bertha Josephson in favor of the Planning Board and ordered the court to issue a new judgment in favor of Frei. Frei is now allowed to sell the building lots created by his ANR plan.

Frei campaigned against Christine McCooe for a 5 year term on the Planning Board back in the spring of 2007 and lost. On several occasions the selectboard characterized Frei’s fight for his rights as frivolous, claimed that the town had no other choice than to spend taxpayers money and that the town could not get reimbursed for their expenses as the law would not allow it as long as Frei would represent himself.

The voters of Holland trusted Christine McCooe with their vote by electing her with 424 over 128 votes. Frei: McCooe wrote on her campaign flyer: “I have never gained my experience by suing the town.” Frei:

“The town enjoyed McCooe’s experience not for long, she showed her gratitude for the trust the voters gave her by attending three meetings out of her five year term she was elected for and resigned on August 7, 2007. Once again the selectboard appointed someone they saw fit thereafter. It is just town politics as usual.”

Guest Writer

Posted on 8 Oct 2008, 18:57 - Category: Ongoing And Past Litigation
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