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Judge rejects reconsideration of lawsuit against Northern Pass

Union Leader Correspondent

November 23. 2014 11:41PM
The Owl's Nest Resort and Golf Course in Campton/Thornton, which was sold at a foreclosure auction earlier this month. The resort's former owners said property sales there ceased after it was announced that the Northern Pass electrical transmission project would come through Owl's Nest. (John Koziol)

CAMPTON — A judge has rejected a motion for reconsideration of a lawsuit by the now former owners of the Owl’s Nest Resort who claimed that the prospect of the Northern Pass electrical transmission project coming through their property put them out of business.

In a decision released Nov. 19 in Grafton County Superior Court, Justice Lawrence Macleod denied the motion of Owl Street Associates to re-examine his ruling of Oct. 29 in which Macleod found that OSA did not have a cause of action against PSNH, Northern Pass Transmission LLC and Northeast Utilities.

OSA, whose principals are Tom Mullen and Walter Lankau Jr., in a lawsuit filed in October 2013 argued that the defendants fraudulently misrepresented their intent in negotiating a joint-use agreement in 2007; breached easement terms; and unreasonably interfered or encroached on an easement.

Cumulatively, OSA said the threat of Northern Pass — which through PSNH has an existing 7,000-foot long right-of-way across the Owl’s Nest property — curdled and ultimately halted sales of lots and homes at the resort which Mullen and Lankau opened in 1997.

Macleod disagreed and in his ruling last month wrote that there are no prohibitions against Northern Pass or PSNH installing larger poles or structures in the right-of-way nor did OSA show a connection between Northern Pass and decreased property sales.

OSA subsequently filed the motion for reconsideration, but Macleod last week deemed that the motion “…sets forth no issues of fact or law which were not previously considered by the court or which warrant a different result than that determined by the court….”

Mullen has previously told the Union Leader that he and Lankau expected Macleod to deny the motion for reconsideration, which was a required step to OSA then being able to file an appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

Owl’s Nest — which is situated on almost 600 acres in Campton and Thornton and boasts a highly-respected golf course, a master plan that calls for 490 homes, of which 87 have been built, as well an approved $14 million expansion plan — was sold in its entirety on Nov. 12 for $2,050,000 to an undisclosed buyer in a foreclosure auction initiated by Meredith Village Savings Bank.

After the sale, Mullen said the new owner indicated that they would retain as many of the resort’s 60 employees as possible and that OSA might have a role in the resort’s future operations.

PSNH has said that a poor economy, not the Northern Pass, caused Owl’s Nest inability to sell real estate, adding that OSA’s contention to the contrary was “simply wrong and has no basis in fact.”

State Sen. Jeanie Forrester, R-Meredith, said Owl’s Nest was a “casualty” of Northern Pass, which would bring hydroelectric power from Canada, down through New Hampshire and ultimately to Massachusetts and the New England power grid. Forrester, along with a growing number of elected officials, have called upon PSNH to bury all of the North Pass.

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