Rye Beach Village Dist. v. Beaudoin

Decision Date31 January 1974
Docket NumberNo. 6344,6344
Citation114 N.H. 1,315 A.2d 181
CourtNew Hampshire Supreme Court

Casassa & Mulherrin, Hampton, and Perkins, Holland, Donovan & Beckett, Robert B. Donovan, Exeter, for plaintiff.

James A. Connor and Eaton, Eaton, Ross, Moody & Solms, Manchester (Clifford J. Ross, Manchester, orally), for defendants.

DUNCAN, Justice.

The plaintiff seeks by this bill in equity to enforce its zoning ordinance with respect to property of the defendants within the district. Title to the land stands in the name of the defendant corporation, At Last, Inc., while the seven structures situated thereon are in the names of the eight individual defendants, consisting of four married couples who hold 999-year leases from the corporate defendant. There was a hearing before the Court (Keller, C.J.) who made certain findings of fact and transferred to this court exceptions of the parties and five questions of law without ruling as hereinafter more particularly appears.

We find no merit in the defendants' attack upon the validity of the district's several zoning measures, reflected in the first three transferred questions as follows: '1. Did Chapter 195 of the New Hampshire Laws of 1905 effectively establish the Rye Beach Village District? 2. Did Chapter 292 of the New Hampshire Laws of 1937 effectively confer zoning powers upon the Rye Beach Village District? 3. Is the Rye Beach Village District Zoning Ordinance as enacted in 1937, and amended in 1957 and 1963, valid?'

Although Laws 1905, ch. 195 establishing the district failed to describe an easterly boundary line, the description embodied in the statute commences and ends at the 'Atlantic ocean', and the easterly boundary was clearly intended to coincide with a portion of the boundary of the town of Rye of which the district is a part. See State v. Zetterberg, 109 N.H. 126, 244 A.2d 188 (1968). The boundaries described are sufficiently specific to exclude any reasonable possibility of mistake. See also Hampton v. Palmer,102 N.H. 127, 131, 153 A.2d 796, 799 (1959).

The fact that the call of the first meeting of the district was addressed to the 'inhabitants qualified to vote in district affairs' rather than to 'legal voters residing' therein (Laws 1905, 195:2) does not impress us as a viable ground of attack.

Similarly, the fact that the title of Laws, 1937, ch. 292, conferring zoning and planning powers upon the Rye Village District, referred to it as a 'precinct district' rather than a 'village district', the term used in the body of the act, cannot be held to vitiate exercise of the powers conferred upon the district by section 1 of the act. Vera &c. Co. v. State,78 N.H. 473, 102 A. 463 (1917).

The defendants also question the validity of the district's 1937 zoning ordinance upon the grounds of lack of a comprehensive plan, and failure to provide notice of the proposed zoning enactment by posting at two public places as required by statute. P.L. 57:2, now RSA 52:2. The fact that the zoning ordinance provides for a single zone or district only does not establish lack of a comprehensive plan, in view of the character of the district. Plainfield v. Hood, 108 N.H. 502, 240 A.2d 60 (1968); Rochester v. Barcomb, 103 N.H. 247, 253, 169 A.2d 281, 285 (1961).

One of the two places of posting notice of the district meeting was the Rye Beach Club, which the trial court found was 'not a public place'. If correctly found not public in the sense that the club was not publicly owned, the record however showed it to be public in the sense that it was frequented by members of the public to an extent calculated to furnish adequate public notice. Russell v. Dyer, 40 N.H. 173, 187-188 (1860); see McKinney v. Riley, 105 N.H. 249, 197 A.2d 218 (1964).

Any lingering doubt concerning the validity of adoption of the ordinance is dispelled by the provisions of Laws 1970, ch. 69, legalizing the proceedings of 1937, since the notice of the meeting was adequate to satisfy due process requirements under Calawa v. Litchfield, 112 N.H. 263, 296 A.2d 124 (1972), and was such notice as the legislature 'could have authorized originally'. Id. at 264, 296 A.2d at 125; see Mullane v. Central Hanover Tr. Co., 339 U.S. 306, 94 L.Ed. 865, 70 S.Ct. 652 (1950); Sampson v. Conlon, 100 N.H. 70, 119 A.2d 707 (1955).

The first three transferred questions are answered in the affirmative.

The fourth and fifth questions transferred by the trial court are as follows: '4. Is the ownership and occupancy of the premises in question by the defendants a legal use under the Zoning Ordinance, either as a non-conforming use or otherwise? 5. Is the plaintiff estopped from undertaking, on the basis of the Zoning Ordinance, to prevent the defendants' present use and occupancy of the premises?'

To establish the legality of their use of the premises, the defendants rely upon the use made by their predecessor in title for sixteen years between 1952 and 1968. Previously the buildings had been used as public bath houses, both before and after adoption of the 1937 ordinance. Defendants' predecessor, Mrs. Annie Schlott, acquired the seven structures in 1952, and in the same year was given permission to use them for single family use, although this was a use permitted by the ordinance and required no administrative action. In 1953, permission was denied to convert them into two single-family residences, upon the ground that the lot size was insufficient to comply with the requirements of the ordinance for two units.

The seven structures were ranged in a row, side by side along the shore, each separated from the other by a narrow space. Situated on a lot some 200 feet long and 80 feet deep between Ocean Boulevard and the ocean, they cover an area approximately 95 by 30 feet. Soon after acquiring them, the Schlotts connected them by sheathing along the front and rear, so that they present the appearance of a single structure.

The court found that they were never in fact used as a single-family residence, but had been used for multi-family purposes from 1952 to 1968, the Schlotts occupying one unit, and various relatives of the Schlotts occupying the other units during the summer seasons, 'for the greater part of the time that Annie Schlott owned the property'.

The court found that in 1952 the Schlotts had installed a kitchen and a bathroom in each of six of the seven units, together with plumbing and electricity. The court further found that the evidence 'does not establish that the plaintiff had actual knowledge of the changes made by the Schlotts in the premises, nor of the...

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7 cases
  • Turco v. Town of Barnstead
    • United States
    • New Hampshire Supreme Court
    • October 30, 1992
    ...selectmen. Under New Hampshire law, there can be no estoppel by an unauthorized statement of an official, Rye Beach Village Dist. v. Beaudoin, 114 N.H. 1, 6, 315 A.2d 181, 184 (1974); Smith v. Town of Epping, 69 N.H. 558, 560, 45 A. 415, 416 (1899). Authority cannot be created by estoppel, ......
  • City of Concord v. Tompkins
    • United States
    • New Hampshire Supreme Court
    • February 3, 1984
    ...the party bringing the estoppel claim on the representation or concealment must have been reasonable. See Rye Beach Village Dist. v. Beaudoin, 114 N.H. 1, 7, 315 A.2d 181, 184 (1974). Reliance is unreasonable when the party asserting estoppel, at the time of his or her reliance or at the ti......
  • Wieck v. District of Columbia, Bd. of Zoning, 10639.
    • United States
    • D.C. Court of Appeals
    • February 1, 1978
    ...sufficient to raise an estoppel. See City of Evanston v. Robbins, 117 Ill.App.2d 278, 254 N.E.2d 536 (1970); Rye Beach Village District v. Beaudoin, 114 N.H. 1, 315 A.2d 181 (1974); Salt Lake County v. Kartchner, 552 P.2d 136 (Utah Our inquiry has not ended, however, until we consider the a......
  • Beaudoin v. Rye Beach Village Dist.
    • United States
    • New Hampshire Supreme Court
    • December 30, 1976
    ...leases declared void. Various issues raised by the parties in that case were transferred to this court. In Rye Beach Village District v. Beaudoin, 114 N.H. 1, 315 A.2d 181 (1974), we held that the Village District zoning ordinance was valid and that the Village District was not estopped fro......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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