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Injunction remains in place against Ossipee beach owner

By BEA LEWIS
Union Leader Correspondent

December 14. 2017 12:56AM




OSSIPEE — An injunction barring a woman from selling her lakefront property to anyone other than the town of Ossipee remains in effect after a Monday court hearing was postponed.

Selectmen filed for a temporary restraining order against Diane Sheehan on Dec. 5, charging that she had covertly reneged on a contract she signed on Aug. 15 agreeing to sell 53 acres of land with 200 feet of frontage on Ossipee Lake to the town for $1.2 million because she has another buyer willing to pay a higher price.

Attorney Richard Sager, who represents the town, claims Sheehan engaged in a “overt public campaign to defeat the purchase,” breached an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and committed fraud.

According to court documents, town leaders negotiated with Sheehan to buy the property to provide public access to the community’s namesake lake.

Negotiations were informal and cordial, conducted around Sheehan’s kitchen table and concluded with her gifting Rick Morgan, who chairs the board of selectmen and the town administrator, with jars of homemade blueberry jam.

Sager claims that when out-of-state vacationers that have used the property for years to camp learned of the pending sale, Sheehan had a change of heart about conveying the land, “likely under duress from her campers.”

“Her actions are designed to benefit herself at the expense of the town,” Sager wrote.

In mid-September the town filed a petition in Carroll County Superior Court seeking permission to hold a special town meeting to vote on the proposed $1.2 million purchase of the Camp Sokokis property that includes 40 parking spaces and access to Route 16B from private Gretchen Road.

The court approved the request and on Nov. 28, residents were asked to vote on the land deal to be paid for via $200,000 raised through taxation and to bond the remaining $1 million. A two-thirds majority vote was needed for passage as it was a bond issue. The vote was 297 in favor and 171 opposed, just 15 shy of the number needed for approval.

The town argues that Sheehan actively campaigned against the proposed sale and that as a party to the deal her comments carried considerable weight in the minds of undecided voters.

On Dec. 5, Judge Amy Ignatius temporarily enjoined Sheehan from selling the property other than to the town, pending further order of the court.

In requesting the Dec. 11 hearing be continued, Sager wrote that the parties were trying to “work everything out,” and noted that one, if not two other parties, were expected to seek intervenor status in the case.

A hearing is now scheduled for Jan. 4 at 8:45 a.m.


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