Greenlaw v. Barnstead School Bd., Doc. No. 211-2000-E-137 (Belknap Super. Ct., August 8, 2000) (Perkins, J.)

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No. 00-E-137





This is a "Complaint" based on alleged violations of RSA 91-A, the State of New Hampshire's so-called "Right-to-Know" law. Before the Court is an expedited final hearing. The plaintiff appeared pro se. The defendant appeared by counsel. The intervenor Lillian Garland also appeared by counsel.

Following a hearing and a review of the parties' pleadings the Court finds the following relevant facts: Prior to the annual Barnstead School District meeting held on March 25, 2000, the school district determined that they would propose at the annual school meeting that the school district raise and appropriate money for the construction of a new middle high school to be constructed on land owned by Lillian Garland. The proposal contemplated that the school district would purchase the land necessary from Ms. Garland. [2] Those proposals were placed on the school district meeting warrant as Articles II, III, and IV.

Ms. Garland owned a tract of land of approximately 70 acres. The school district entered into a purchase and sale agreement with Ms. Garland on March 24, 2000 which provided that Ms. Garland would sell to the Barnstead School District the entire 70 acres "subject to the obligation of the buyer within a reasonable time after receiving delivery of seller's deed to obtain subdivision approval for approximately 12 acres of land where seller presently has her homestead including her existing mobile home and all improvements presently on the approximately 12 acres (hereinafter referred to as seller's homestead), and the obligation of the buyer to convey sellers homestead back to seller for no consideration." Defendant's counsel asserts that this agreement was entered into because there was not sufficient time prior to the annual school district meeting to process the subdivision of the property.

At the school district meeting on March 25, 2000, the school district rejected Articles II and III dealing with the construction of the new school and related matters but voted in the affirmative to purchase the land from Mrs. Garland pursuant to the terms of the purchase and sale [3] agreement. A reconsideration was defeated at the meeting.

The purchase and sale agreement and the terms and conditions of the conveyance were clearly disclosed and discussed at the meeting. (Defendant's Exhibit B, pgs. 3, 4, 8 & 9.) The minutes of the meeting show that plaintiff was present at the meeting and participated in the discussion and procedural issues involving the relevant articles. (See generally pgs. 3 & 8, Defendant's Exhibit B.)

Subsequent to the annual school district meeting, Ms. Garland conveyed the property to the school district by deed dated March 28, 2000. On June 1, 2000, the Barnstead Planning Board approved the school district's application for subdivision. The Barnstead School District, rather than conveying Mrs. Garland's 12 acre tract to her at that time, waited until the 30 day appeal period had passed before doing so.

At a meeting on July 6, 2000, the school board reconvened and executed a deed to the 12-acre parcel back to Ms. Garland. That deed was delivered prior to the filing of this "Complaint". Mr. Greenlaw's "Complaint" is predicated on a claimed failure of the school board to properly notice the action of conveying the parcel of land to Ms. Garland and for considering the matter at a non-public meeting. The [4] sequence of meetings leading up to this action are well set forth in plaintiff's "Complaint" and generally are not objected to by the defendant.

The Court finds that under the terms of the purchase and sale agreement which formed a part of the transaction, the district was legally obliged to transfer the 12 acre parcel back to Mrs. Garland. That condition of the transaction was approved by the voters at the school district meeting of March 25, 2000. The fact that the deed execution was made at a non-public meeting is of no consequence. It amounted to nothing more than the ministerial act of executing the deed which the school district was legally bound to execute pursuant to the binding purchase and sale agreement and the authorization given at the March 25, 2000 meeting. Any claimed error by the plaintiff is de minimus at best. There is no basis on which this Court could or should issue either a Temporary Restraining Order to enjoin the action already taken by the Town before the "Complaint" was filed, or to invalidate that transaction.

Plaintiff's complaint is dismissed. The Court makes no award of attorney fees and costs to either party.


[5] DATE: August 8, 2000    /s/   

Harold W. Perkins

Presiding Justice