Britton v. Town of Chester

134 N.H. 434 (1991)

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Britton v. Town of Chester

Supreme Court of New Hampshire
134 N.H. 434 (1991)

Facts

The Town of Chester (defendant) enacted a zoning ordinance which allowed for multi-family housing on lots that were part of a planned residential development. The ordinance stipulated that this type of development was also to include single-family homes and duplexes, and must be on a lot no less than twenty-two acres. The amount of land that can accommodate this type of development amounts to only 1.73% of the town’s total land. Furthermore, the hearings involved for approval of an application for a planned residential development allow the planning board to hire experts to analyze the plans at the applicant’s expense. The hearings also permit the planning board to determine whether in its view, the proposal before it meets the objectives of the zoning ordinance. A group of low and moderate-income people residing outside of the town (Britton) (plaintiffs) attempted to develop housing in the Town of Chester according to the zoning ordinance in place. Their plans were denied, and Britton brought suit. The trial court determined that the zoning ordinance in question created an unreasonable process to bring affordable housing to the town. It also determined that the decision making process was subjective, and that the provision allowing the board to hire experts at the applicant’s expense was a large deterrent in creating affordable housing. The Town of Chester petitioned for certiorari to the Supreme Court of New Hampshire.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Batchelder, J.)

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