News & Thought Leadership from Sulloway & Hollis

January 15, 2021

NH Housing Appeals Board Now Accepting Appeals

The New Hampshire Housing Appeals Board is now accepting appeals. Signed into law as part of the biennium budget in September 2019, the Housing Appeals Board was designed to expedite review of local land-use decisions. The Board is empowered to review final decisions made by local “municipal boards, committees, and commissions regarding questions of housing and housing development” – including everything from planning and zoning board decisions, to conclusions by other bodies, such as historic districts and conservation commissions.

Under RSA 679, appeals must be filed with the Housing Appeals Board within 30 days of the final decision at the local level. At the time the appeal is filed, the appellant is required to notify the local government body that rendered the decision at issue. Within 30 days of receiving that notice, the local body is required to submit a certified record of its proceedings to the Board. The Board is required to hold a hearing on the merits within 90 days of its receipt of a notice of appeal; the Board then must make a decision on the appeal within 60 days of the hearing.

New Hampshire’s statutory scheme for appealing a local land use decision preserves a party’s right to file in Superior Court. However, a party can file with the Housing Appeals Board or the Superior Court, not both. Regardless of which forum a party files in, certain steps must be taken in order to bring an appeal; for instance, all administrative remedies at the local level must have been pursued and exhausted, including petitioning for a rehearing.

Similar to the Board of Tax and Land Appeals, the members of the Housing Appeals Board are appointed by the Supreme Court. On June 25, 2020, the Supreme Court appointed attorney Gregory Michael as chairman; land surveyor Marc Stevens and real estate broker Elizabeth Fisher were appointed as members. They were commissioned by the Governor shortly thereafter. The Board has established an office in Johnston Hall in the Governor Gallen State Office Park in Concord. In addition to the governing statute, RSA 679, interested parties should look at the JUS 800 Administrative Rules which the Board will utilize pending formal adoption of rules under RSA 541-A.

The Housing Appeals Board was designed to expedite review of local decisions, facilitate development and help address New Hampshire’s affordable housing needs. With a turn-around time of approximately six months from the time a decision is made at the local level to when a decision is made at the appellate level, the Housing Appeals Board offers another tool for businesses, developers and individuals interested in a timely review of local decisions.

The attorneys at Sulloway & Hollis understand the challenges of land use litigation. If you have questions about the Housing Appeals Board or other housing or land use matters, please contact us at (603) 223-2838.