community rights | New Hampshire Public Radio

community rights

Dan Tuohy for NHPR

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has agreed to hear a community group’s appeal in a dispute over an environmental protection ordinance in Nottingham, temporarily halting a lower court lawsuit against the rule.

The case comes from a citizen group, the Nottingham Water Association, which wants to intervene in an ongoing Superior Court challenge to their town’s freedom from chemical trespass” ordinance.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

An environmental group in Nottingham is appealing to the New Hampshire Supreme Court to try to get involved in an ongoing legal battle over community rights. 

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The state House has again rejected a bid to give New Hampshire towns more control over their own environmental protections – but advocates of the constitutional amendment say they're making progress.

Organizer Michelle Sanborn with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund says the House barely debated the proposal the first time around, in 2016.

So she's encouraged by Thursday’s House vote of 217 to 112 against it.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Advocates for more local control in New Hampshire are trying again to amend the state constitution, this time to let municipalities pass laws protecting people's health and the environment.

A dozen New Hampshire towns already have ordinances geared toward ensuring locals’ health, safety and welfare, sparked by big energy developments or water quality concerns.

But Granite State municipalities technically can’t enact any laws the state doesn’t allow them to. So supporters say those ordinances wouldn't hold up in court – which is why they need a constitutional amendment.

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New Hampshire has put the brakes on the Northern Pass energy project for now, but some towns are still prepared to block it with local laws asserting their view on big utility development.

Plymouth is the latest municipality to approve an ordinance saying certain energy projects, while allowed under state law, are harmful to local health and environment.

When such laws are enforced, developers either have to go elsewhere, or sue to build in town.