Suit against Merry Meadow dismissed

The Grafton County Superior Court recently dismissed a lawsuit challenging Merry Meadow Farm’s right to open a for-profit facility in Hanover for individuals recovering from emotional and mental illness.

Neighbors complained the facility lowered their property value and filed a lawsuit last year to stop Merry Meadow from opening.

Merry Meadow received special zoning board approval last May to establish a seven-patient facility at 1 Prospect Street, two blocks west of Everything But Anchovies.

The board’s decision granted Merry Meadow the same zoning exception that allows David’s House, the building’s current owner, to operate a non-profit home for the families of children receiving treatment at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center within the town’s residential district.

But the out-of-state owners of a neighboring house filed a lawsuit last summer against the town of Hanover alleging that the zoning board improperly considered the Merry Meadow case.

The plaintiffs, Anne Johnson and Deborah Johnson Pyles, inherited the property at 3 Prospect Street and claimed the board’s decision caused its value to drop.

Johnson and Pyles sold their house a few weeks after filing the suit and dropped the case but Hanover attorney Bill Clausen filed a motion with the court on behalf of another neighbor, Ann Stalter, to substitute her as the plaintiff.

Last week, Judge Edward Fitzgerald rejected the motion and dismissed the case.

“… Nowhere in her pleadings does [Stalter] claim that she is a person whose rights may be directly affected by the outcome of the appeal,” Fitzgerald wrote.

Neither Stalter nor Merry Meadow officials could be reached for comment.

The pending case, however, did not deter Merry Meadow from moving ahead with their plans to open a Hanover facility, Merry Meadow directors said last August. Under New Hampshire law, a zoning board decision remains in effect until a court overturns the decision.

Merry Meadow operates three other facilities located in Bradford, Vt., Hartford, Vt. and one in Florida.

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