PLANNING AND ZONING
REHEARING AND APPEAL PROCEDURES
Appeal and Court Review of Planning Board Decisions
677:15 Court Review.
I. Any persons aggrieved by any decision of the planning board concerning a plat or subdivision may present to the superior court a petition, duly verified, setting forth that such decision is illegal or unreasonable in whole or in part and specifying the grounds upon which the same is claimed to be illegal or unreasonable. Such petition shall be presented to the court within 30 days after the date upon which the board voted to approve or disapprove the application; provided however, that if the petitioner shows that the minutes of the meeting at which such vote was taken, including the written decision, were not filed within 5 business days after the vote pursuant to RSA 676:3, II, the petitioner shall have the right to amend the petition within 30 days after the date on which the written decision was actually filed. This paragraph shall not apply to planning board decisions appealable to the board of adjustment pursuant to RSA 676:5, III. The 30-day time period shall be counted in calendar days beginning with the date following the date upon which the planning board voted to approve or disapprove the application, in accordance with RSA 21:35.
I-a. (a) If an aggrieved party desires to appeal a decision of the planning board, and if any of the matters to be appealed are appealable to the board of adjustment under RSA 676:5, III, such matters shall be appealed to the board of adjustment before any appeal is taken to the superior court under this section. If any party appeals any part of the planning board's decision to the superior court before all matters appealed to the board of adjustment have been resolved, the court shall stay the appeal until resolution of such matters. After the final resolution of all such matters appealed to the board of adjustment, any aggrieved party may appeal to the superior court, by petition, any or all matters concerning the subdivision or site plan decided by the planning board or the board of adjustment. The petition shall be presented to the superior court within 30 days after the board of adjustment's denial of a motion for rehearing under RSA 677:3, subject to the provisions of paragraph I.
(b) If, upon an appeal to the superior court under this section, the court determines, on its own motion within 30 days after delivery of proof of service of process upon the defendants, or on motion of any party made within the same period, that any matters contained in the appeal should have been appealed to the board of adjustment under RSA 676:5, III, the court shall issue an order to that effect, and shall stay proceedings on any remaining matters until final resolution of all matters before the board of adjustment. Upon such a determination by the superior court, the party who brought the appeal shall have 30 days to present such matters to the board of adjustment under RSA 676:5, III. Except as provided in this paragraph, no matter contained in the appeal shall be dismissed on the basis that it should have been appealed to the board of adjustment under RSA 676:5, III.
II. Upon presentation of such petition, the court may allow a certiorari order directed to the planning board to review such decision and shall prescribe therein the time within which return thereto shall be made and served upon the petitioner's attorney, which shall not be less than 10 days and may be extended by the court. The allowance of the order shall stay proceedings upon the decision appealed from. The planning board shall not be required to return the original papers acted upon by it; but it shall be sufficient to return certified or sworn copies thereof, or of such portions thereof as may be called for by such order. The return shall concisely set forth such other facts as may be pertinent and material to show the grounds of the decision appealed from and shall be verified.
III. If, upon the hearing, it shall appear to the court that testimony is necessary for the proper disposition of the matter, it may take evidence or appoint a referee to take such evidence as it may direct and report the same to the court with the referee's findings of fact and conclusion of law, which shall constitute a part of the proceedings upon which the determination of the court shall be made.
IV. The court shall give any hearing under this section priority on the court calendar.
V. The court may reverse or affirm, wholly or partly, or may modify the decision brought up for review when there is an error of law or when the court is persuaded by the balance of probabilities, on the evidence before it, that said decision is unreasonable. Costs shall not be allowed against the municipality unless it shall appear to the court that the planning board acted in bad faith or with malice in making the decision appealed from.
Source. 1983, 447:1. 1991, 231:14. 1995, 243:7, 8. 2000, 144:4. 2005, 105:2. 2009, 266:4. 2013, 179:1, eff. Aug. 31, 2013.