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AD v. Hanover Mano a Mano

Attorneys for the Town and for Alpha Delta argued before the NH Supreme Court today concerning the right of the brothers under the Town’s zoning law to remain in their house despite the fact that AD has been derecognized by the College. Associate Justice James P. Bassett ‘78 recused himself from the case — he had been an AD as a student — and the four other Justices questioned counsel pointedly:

AD v Hanover.jpg

At issue is whether the brothers’ use of their house (the fraternity owns the house and its underlying land) can be grandfathered in: the frat has been in the same physical plant since 1928, and the Hanover zoning ordinance dates back only to 1976.

Justices Hicks and Lynn seemed convinced that the case was a simple one: did the fraternity’s use ante-date the enactment of the zoning ordinance? Justice Conboy repeatedly asked how the law would deal with a change of use (AD’s counsel repeatedly asserted that there had been no change in the use of the premises), such as the transformation of the house into a CVS or a small Walmart; and Chief Justice Dalianis was reserved but direct in her questioning, as is her wont. The Town argued that derecognition by the College deprived AD of its institutional cover, as mandated by the zoning ordinance, which cover had been in place when the ordinance was enacted.

The post-hearing betting line was that AD would win the case, given the Court’s traditional penchant for deciding cases unanimously, and because the brothers had the better of the argument in the minds of at least two of the Justices. A decision should be handed down in a couple of months.

Addendum: AD’s counsel announced during oral argument that the house was in talks with the College about being re-recognized (de-derecognized?). Perhaps the College is softening around the edges, what with the capital campaign in the offing and those bad, bad frat boys being very, very loyal alumni.

Addendum: The Union Leader summarizes the story.

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