, Derry, New Hampshire

March 6, 2014

Impact fee lawsuit is dismissed

By Julie Huss

---- — LONDONDERRY — A Superior Court judge has dismissed an impact fee lawsuit against the town.

In a decision dated Feb. 4, Judge Marguerite Wageling dismissed a case brought against Londonderry, one part of a long impact fee journey that has taken years to resolve.

In December 2012, a Superior Court judge ruled that Londonderry had serious flaws in the way its impact fees were handled and documented. The fee program had been in place since 1994.

The ruling came after the town asked for guidance on how to refund more than $1.2 million in impact fees collected erroneously or not spent within the required six-year time frame.

The court also required the town to conduct an accounting audit to identify any taxpayer funds at issue.

An audit of the town’s impact fee records revealed many discrepancies, missing records and other errors, some dating back many years.

The impact fee program was suspended during that time, but the town began issuing refunds to those who paid any illegal impact fees.

The recent court document stated “the town was uncertain as between present owners and original payers, which entities were entitled to impact fee refunds.”

That led to some legal action against the town, including the most recent decision to dismiss a lawsuit brought against Londonderry by attorney Patricia Panciocco on behalf of her clients.

Town Council Chairman John Farrell said the plaintiffs in this case have filed for an appeal of the decision.

The impact fee issue spiked the town’s legal budget, Farrell said at a Council meeting Feb. 24. “We’ve spent $275,000 of taxpayers’ money for a lawsuit that was dismissed,” he said.

Town Manager Kevin Smith said as appeals and litigation continue, the town will incur more legal expenses.

“That’s as long as the plaintiff wishes it to go on,” he said.