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Derry

June 23, 2010

Derry neighbors take tavern battle to court

DERRY — Battle lines are drawn and legal action continues as neighbors of a downtown Derry restaurant say the business is not good for nearby residents.

Two Halligan Tavern abutters hoped to overturn a May 5 Planning Board decision to move forward with a rooftop seating plan at the 32 West Broadway restaurant.

Abutters Barbara Woodward of Wilton-based Property Portfolio Group and Steve Trefethen both submitted appeals to the Zoning Board, saying planning decisions violated town zoning ordinances. The Zoning Board denied both appeals.

Property Portfolio Group has now filed a lawsuit in Rockingham County against the town and the Planning Board. The lawsuit asks for a declaratory judgment over the Halligan issue. It also claims the town's past decisions granted "special privileges" to the restaurant's owners, causing "harm to innocent abutters" and lowering property values.

Woodward owns and manages an apartment complex at 7 Central St., directly behind the restaurant. She said the restaurant violates town ordinances in several areas, including the placement of the tavern's Dumpsters and buffer requirements. She added the restaurant is driving away tenants with noise and fumes.

Trefethen manages several residential apartment buildings on West Broadway and represented property owner Dom Vincent LLC in the appeal against the Planning Board's Halligan decision.

The rift between restaurant and neighborhood is nothing new.

Previous owners Bob and Bonnie Hall operated the FireHall Pub and Grille at the same site, a former fire station. The Halls fought legal battles with both Woodward and Trefethen. After less than a year in business, they put the business on the market. It was sold at foreclosure auction in 2008 to Halligan owners Timothy Moran, Ryan Tobin and Daniel Mancini, operating under MTM Realty LLC. Halligan Tavern opened in the former 1898 firehouse in January.

"It may be a very good restaurant, but it's not a very good neighbor," Property Portfolio Group attorney John Griffith said.

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