INJUSTICE IN AMHERST
Last night at the close of the Deliberative Session (what we call what is done now that we
no longer have Town Meeting), Dennis Olson looked at me and said: “I can see why Mr.
Smith had to go to Washington”! For those of you who have never seen the movie to
which he referred, I would suggest that it is time for you to do so, before you watch how
the assembled body at the Amherst School Deliberative Session changed the intent of the
warrants articles upon which you will be asked to vote.
Sometimes courts are just plain wrong. We have thousands of attorneys in the United
States, more per each of us than in any other country in the world. People are let out of
jail, sometimes after many years, for being wrongly convicted of a crime. I think two
judges made wrong decisions in the Olson cases. For whatever good and legal reasons
they used, many of us who are familiar with these cases continue to disagree with those
decisions. I don‟t want to just drop this matter without putting all the facts as I know
them in one document. So this is my personal opinion about what I consider to be a
small town scandal: Injustice in Amherst.
Once upon a time a family moved to Amherst, NH. This was a young family with 3 boys.
The Olsons, Dennis, Kathy, and their three young boys; Dennis Jr., Nicholas and
Michael, didn‟t have a lot of money, but had fallen in love with our town. They searched
and finally found a small cottage at the corner of Baboosic Lake Road and 101. They
could afford it! As Dennis is a fine carpenter, they knew they could eventually make it a
dream home. That the cottage was less than 750 sq. feet for the five of them; was of little
consequence. They moved in with much excitement.
Little did Dennis Olson know that he was about to go to court over his property, not once,
but twice. Little did he know that the town would try to force him to move his brand new
swimming pool and his barn, even though the Town had approved the pool and the barn.
Little did he know that his property deed was subject to interpretation by the court and
that a flawed legal description would be substituted to mean what the former property
owner of 50 years would say in her notarized statement was incorrect. Little did he know
that the judge would be more interested in his own interpretation of circumstance, rather
than evidence from the Town of Amherst official records.
He was naïve. He never thought it possible that a town could or would get a judgment
against him for complying with the town‟s own requirements. Nor did he think it would
be possible that when he was injured in an accident, he would find himself unable to
borrow money to feed his family because the town had that judgment against him.
The Olsons‟ problem began when they purchased their home from Mrs. Batchelder, an
older woman who had lived there for 50 years. When Dennis Olson purchased the
property, he was shown the road frontage by Realtor Nancy Hubert. She walked the
property with him and showed him a dirt road at the far edge of the property. She
explained it was a right of way across to access a former gravel pit underneath what is
today Route 101. What she did not know was that the court had extinguished that
particular right of way; in creating the Highway 101 corridor. There was no right of way
across the land. Also, the realtor had taken the size of the property off the town tax cards
– ¾ of an acre. The Realtor told him the frontage was his. The deed, however, verified
the frontage and said something else. It said that Olson had purchased 2 acres.
Further, prior to signing the purchase and sale agreements, the Olsons called the zoning
office in Amherst to determine what, if anything, could be built on the vacant land behind
their property. They were told that the most that could go on the acreage behind their
house would be a few homes.
We need to go back in time for a moment. One of the Olson boys, Nicholas, loves horses.
Nick‟s love of horses led to meeting the Olsons. Nick wanted to hang out with our
horses. Dennis and Kathy would drop him off, pick him up, and we would chat, as
neighbors tend to do. As I became acquainted with the Olsons, they would tell me about
the controversies with their land. The Amherst School Board had announced it‟s intent to
purchase land behind their house, and use the Olson‟s front yard to access their property.
The Olson were shown their frontage by the realtor when they bought the house. They
could not understand how land they thought they owned could also be considered by the
school board to be the land it had recently purchased. No one seemed to pay attention to
If, in our local government, a grave injustice can happen with nothing being done about it
for years, then one most certainly presumes that this is the game we citizens simply
endorse. Our government should exist to serve us, the people. However, even at our
local level lobbying influences it. Democracy must respond to ALL our citizens, not just
the ones with the money to hire others to do their bidding. A healthy democracy depends
on citizen participation, something that has been falling off in the last few years. If many
of us are watching the process of government, it stays more honest. We don‟t elect
people to tell us what to do; we elect them to represent us. Sometimes it seems to me the
opposite has happened. Our boards spend enormous amounts of time in “executive
session”, dealing with their affairs in secret. I would venture to say that 99% of the time
the Olsons have been discussed by either the Amherst School Board or the Amherst
Selectmen, it has been behind closed doors in „executive session‟, under the guise of
That‟s a funny thing. Of the four court cases the Olsons were forced to endure, all were
public. It is difficult to face our neighbors openly, to have public discussions with them
in which both sides of a case are presented and others beside „officials‟ can make an
informed opinion about what they are doing. A nefarious byproduct of “Executive
session” is the drop-off in attention from the media. It is hard to report unfair practices if
you are not allowed to witness them. People are not “problems to be eliminated”.
I believe this is how the Olsons have been treated by the Town of Amherst and the
School Board and it makes me sick.
Our current school board did not do this injustice to the Olsons, they simply continued it.
They continued it out of ignorance and out of a certain disdain to get down in the
trenches and really try to understand some legal issues. I think every high school student
in America should study law. There are so many lawyers around, it would behoove
everyone else to have at least some basic understanding of the hanky panky that can be
done in “the name of the Law”. Good government is becoming too much “running to the
various attorneys who serve the town”. This particular problem with the Olsons has been
going on for SIX years.
So, who are the Olsons, anyway?
Dennis Olson Sr is 45 and has been married to Kathy for twenty years. He‟s a man who
has used his innate intelligence and hard work ethic to become a fine master carpenter.
He believes in helping others, doing the right thing. He responded to a request from St.
Joseph‟s Church in Pepperell, MA, to help a fellow parishioner. He trained that man, and
then others without skill, to be competent carpenters. Following calls from the NH Dept.
of Employment and Rehabilitation, he helped other young men. He taught them,
employed them, and saw them become independent in their skills. He‟s helped students
at Souhegan High School, employed Amherst residents, and started an architecture
student on his life path. As a master carpenter and artisan, his dream is to open a
woodworking and labor school. He has been a wrestling coach for 4 years. His vision is
to give back to the community.
Michael, 12, finished fifth grade with high honors, he loves to read, and is a former
member of the Amherst chess club. He runs cross-country and was part of the Amherst
Patriots Pop Warner state champion team of 2003. He loves to draw and create his own
cartoons. He won 2nd place in an art show. In cross-country, he came in 6th place for the
State of NH for 5th and 6th graders.
Nicholas is 16, has a heart of gold and is always willing to help. He is a solid, average
student and every teacher that Nick has ever had has expressed genuine affection for him
because of his kind personality and his constant smile. He is quite the athlete. Nick just
returned from a tournament in Colorado in July, where he played with the New England
(under age 19) rugby team. He has been selected as captain of the Amoskeag U-19 club
team out of Manchester. An excellent rugby player, Nick will be on the USA under 19
rugby team, which will play in Ireland in April 2007. He plans to apply to Norwich
University and serve his country after college. His goal is to make the world a better
place to live.
Dennis Olson is 19 and has just finished his first year of college at Plymouth State
University. He has decided to transfer to Norwich University, as a cadet. Dennis, an
incredible athlete, two time state champion wrestler, and co-captain of the Souhegan
football team his senior year of high school, loves weight lifting and plans to compete in
bodybuilding and power lifting.
Kathleen is the love and lady of her husband‟s life, a fantastic mother for their three boys.
She manages the office for Dennis‟ business, taught Sunday school, and worked for the
alternative school in Milford as a teacher‟s aid. She supports many of Amherst‟s
children, whether it is with a loud cheer from the sidelines, running the concession stand
or hosting pasta dinners for the Souhegan football team. Kathy has always been there for
her family, her children and all of their friends and teammates. There would be one more
member of the Olson family, but tragically, Kathy miscarried on New Year‟s Eve, 2001.
The doctor said it was highly likely that the unfortunate event was stress related.
THE FIRST INJUSTICE
12/20/1999: Dennis watched as a woman went from home to home in his neighborhood,
and then approached her to find out what she was doing. She said the school district had
tried to contact him but had not been able to do so, and that there was a letter at town hall
for him. He was given the announcement of the pending school district purchase, of the
lots behind his property, in this letter. Oddly enough, this letter made reference to the
fact that he had an unlisted phone number, which he did not.
12/21/1999 the Amherst School Board had a meeting to announce it was about to put on
the ballot a proposal to purchase land and construct a new grade 4-5 school. The
proposed school purchase, they stated, “Allows ample space for on-site parking, for off-
street loading and unloading of buses, and for playground and playing fields.” Dennis
Olson attended the meeting and told the school board that he owned the frontage that
would give access to this proposed purchase. After that meeting he met privately with
Dr. Richard Lalley, then superintendent.
12/22/1999 was the first abutters meeting. The proposed project was met with criticism
from the abutting property owners and many other citizens of the town. School Board
Chairman Sue Stitt was quoted in The Cabinet calling this proposed purchase “a quality
piece of land”.
12/23/1999 At this time a Purchase and Sales Agreement was signed between Woodcliff
Realty Trust and the Amherst School District, the sellers were still unknown to the public.
Signing were Richard A. Lalley, Superintendent of Schools, and sellers Paul Spiess and
Susan Spiess as Trustees of the Woodcliff Realty Trust, and Susan S. Stitt, President of
the Amherst School Board. Paul Spiess had been a member of the Souhegan School
Why was a third party or anonymity needed in this transaction? The land had been
sitting, vacant, for perhaps 25 years. No plan was before the planning board. It was
considered a very difficult piece of land. The taxpayers were not given the opportunity to
purchase the land directly from the developers. Instead, an anonymous intermediary was
to be used. People asked why there could not be a simple up or down vote to purchase,
and if the vote failed, the land simply would not transfer, but stay in the hands of the
1/13/2000 The Olsons met again with Dr. Lalley and the School Board‟s title attorney,
Thomas Quinn. Dr. Lalley asked Dennis and Kathy if they minded the attorney‟s
presence. They said fine.
In this first meeting, the Olson‟s presented Dr. Lalley and Atty. Quinn with a drawing,
rendered by Mrs. Batchelder, the owner of the property from 1946 until she sold to the
Olsons. Her drawing showed a right of way granted by her to the Parker brothers. This
right of way was a dirt road at the far side of the property, not adjacent or near the house
or its driveway, and was given for truck access to the Parker‟s land. This dirt right of
way is still clearly visible on the Olson‟s property. Along with the drawing, the Olsons
also brought the state map layout of 101 and the deed to their property.
They informed the Superintendent and the attorney that their deed from Batchelder
clearly conveyed +/- two (2) acres NOT .76 acre, as town hall files had reflected. After
this meeting Dr. Lalley called the Olsons and asked if they could meet again on January
1/15/2000 A site walk of the proposed purchase was lead by Peter de Bruyn Kops, a
school board member. According to an article later published in the Milford Cabinet, de
Bruyn Kops said combining three parcels owned by four individuals created the site. It
was then purchased by an anonymous trust, which would later sell the land to the school
district. When asked why the owner of the trust was anonymous, de Bruyn Kops
explained it this way: “This is someone who wants to help get things done in town but
doesn‟t want to be in the middle of a stink,” noting that school building construction
generally generates some controversy.
De Bruyn Kops said the school board had arranged for an on-site wetlands analysis and a
wetlands survey map to be drawn of the entire parcel. He stated an excavator had
volunteered his services and would dig 20-foot deep test pits to determine soil types and
depth to bedrock. I heard that Steve Desmarais (the Chairman of the Selectmen, and one
of the sellers of the land) was that excavator. As a wry testament to the land’s
suitability for development, one of those test pits, number 14, is now a POND!
During the site walk, De Bruyn Kops further explained that the board had arranged for
two independent appraisals of the land under consideration. All of the test results, maps
and appraisals would be available for the deliberative session scheduled for February 7,
In that same Cabinet article it was mentioned that George Bower, head of the non-profit
Amherst Land Trust and also a Souhegan School Board member, had headed up
negotiations for the land deal. In describing his negotiation strategy, he said the land
would cost $500,000 because the parcels had been combined. “Of the three lots, all
separately owned, only one had frontage, and that was on Baboosic Lake Road,” he said.
“The two largest parcels are landlocked with no frontage, and they had very little value
with no frontage.” Once the lots were combined into one parcel, the whole parcel
acquires frontage and the value increases, he said. (One of the things I discovered in
doing deed research for the Olsons was that there was, in fact, other legal access to
these parcels; one for sure, and perhaps two.)
George Bower apparently did not know that the same people owned the lots. Two lots
were owned by 3 people and one lot was owned by those 3, plus one other. Bower said
he thoroughly researched suitable lots for a potential school site, and found only one
available for purchase. “You need certain features for a school site,” he said, including
good road access, public water, soils to support a septic system – in this case for a
potential 800 people – and enough room to build a 60,000 square foot building along with
It should have been evident from that statement; the town would have a problem. He
forgot to mention playing fields and the huge amount of space they require..
1/18/2000 At their second meeting together, Dr. Lalley told the Olsons they had a really
big problem, actually two problems. One was that the school owned 116 feet of frontage
across the Olson property, and two: the school had right of way across the property.
HELP! IF THEY OWNED THE FRONTAGE, WHY WOULD THEY HAVE AN
EASTMENT ACROSS WHAT THEY OWNED? DIDN’T ANYONE WONDER
1/20/2000 Since Woodcliff Realty Trust had signed their agreement with the school
board on 12/23/99, they now proceeded to purchase 3 parcels of land from Warren
Development Corp (Warren P. Snyder, President), Edward M. Houck, Steven A.
Desmarais, Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, and Robert L. Bacon.
1/24/2000: Amherst Selectmen Chairman Steve Desmarais and the Amherst Selectmen
unanimously approved a motion to support the building of a new 4/5 school. This was
the first time in the history of the Board it had taken a position on any School Board
1/25/2000: The school board received an appraisal from Fremeau Appraisal, Inc.,
Manchester, NH. The appraisal said that the highest and best use of the property
was for residential development. The appraisal was for $320,000, so a quick
calculation shows the School Board had agreed to pay the 4 developer owners
$226,000 OVER FAIR MARKET VALUE.
In late January, residents Elizabeth and Phillip Sullivan in a letter to the editor
“We are writing as citizens and taxpayers of Amherst to express our alarm over the land
and school deal proposed by the school board in bond issues to be deliberated on Feb. 7th
and voted on at the polls March 14th. This entire process has become a juggernaut
driven by the blind determination and politicking of the school board, and the “support
Our Schools” organization. Given the political power, media presence, and momentum
these groups command, theirs is the voice we hear loudest and most often. Anyone
expressing reasonable opposition to their plan has either been drowned out or made to
feel their position is selfish and “anti-child”. In truth all we are expressing is caution
and fiscal responsibility about a plan that may be risky and ill considered.
We are all tired of leaving the needs of our children and their schools unresolved. The
supporters of this plan know this and are using our fatigue over this issue, the mounting
crisis of overcrowding, and the changes in the bond issue voting laws (60% yes vote now
required to pass as opposed to the previous requirement of 66% to ram through a project
that presents us with an abundance of potential financial, safety, and legal risks.
1. Cost: The School Board did not follow the prudent steps you or I would in a
real estate transaction. They signed the secretly negotiated $500,000 purchase
and sales agreement with the anonymous sellers of the land without an up to
date survey, assessment regarding wetlands, or evaluation of fair market price
and utilities development costs. The suitability of the land for building a school
or for reasonable construction costs has also not been evaluated. Many consider
this price too high given that other properties in the neighborhood have sold for
half as much per acre. The abutting neighborhood encountered significant
construction cost over-runs in the building of their homes due to extensive granite
ledge. Two succeeding developers in the adjacent Village Woods neighborhood
are reported to have bankrupted due to construction cost over-runs. Ledge
related costs are said to have been a major contributing factor by current
residents of the neighborhood. Is this a good deal for the citizens of Amherst who
will provide the funding through an increase in their taxes?
2. Safety: Entrance proximity to the Route 101 Baboosic Lake Road off ramp and
to the Baboosic Lake/Spring Road intersection will present significant issues of
traffic, bus, and student safety. Also, if this school is built, a large number of 10
and 11 year-old children will be attending school, recreation, and weekend
activities within feet of the speeding traffic and potential accidents of the state’s
busiest and most dangerous East-West highway. Isn’t it likely that route 101 will
be widened and expanded, bringing even greater danger closer to our children?
3. Wetlands. Amherst residents who have toured the property have observed
significant acreage, which appears to be “wetland”. This raises the possibility
of the state denying approval for a construction project of this size, and leaving
the school board in possession of 19-21 acres unsuitable for building at a
$500,000 expense to the taxpayers.
4. Topography. Topographically, the land has an 18% grade on the site where
school construction is proposed, adding potential site development costs for the
building and recreation fields (don’t playing fields have a 0% grade?). Trucks
shift into low gear at a 7% grade.
5. Legal. One of the abutters believes he has a legal ownership/right of way claim
to the proposed school entrance on Baboosic Lake Road. This is the property’s
only access to non-highway road frontage. Court involvement with this issue
could significantly delay construction and increase legal costs. The only “out
clause” from the purchase and sales agreement is rejection of the school bond by
the voters. If the bond is approved, the land is ours, whether or not a school can
be built on it.”
The Sullivan’s concluded their letter: “We all support an excellent school system for
our children. BUT as taxpayers, shouldn’t we ask those spending our money to take the
same care we would in purchasing land and planning a building? We question linking
the approval of school construction funds to a land deal presenting with a significant
potential for dramatic price inflation, construction delays, and even complete project
derailment. We support new school construction, but believe that this project was
hurried through in secret because of the critical need for school space following two
voter rejections of previous plans. Undoubtedly the School Board hoped to avoid
controversy and public objection through stealth and speed but in their haste have
entered into a risky purchase and sales agreement that no private potential homeowner
or his banker would have accepted.
Around this time according to a local newspaper article, Tom Quinn, Steve
Desmarais, George Bower and Paul Spiess provided an Amherst School Ways and
Means member the following information:
1. George Bower had gone to Steve Desmarais, Amherst selectman, to inquire if he
knew of any land in town, which would fit the bill for a school site (near a major
access road, 13 acres or more as required by the state for a school this size, town
water, flat with natural buffers, no ledge and minimal site preparation costs).
2. As a result of this conversation, Desmarais contacted his other partners in the land
and they agree to sell.
3. Steve Desmarais contacted Paul Spiess, who offered to purchase the land for the
asking price of $500,000 and hold it until July 1st. If the voters approved the land
purchase at the polls on March 14, Spiess would sell the land to the school district
for $546,000. The $46,000 was the carrying costs and closing costs incurred by
4. If the voters were to reject the land, Spiess as owner of the land could do with it
as he saw fit. The land was highly developable, the taxpayers were told, and
was previously considered for an elderly care facility or a residential housing
development. Ways and Means member Janet Gaynor was told that the land
could support 9-12 single-family homes, or condominiums putting more school
children into a presently overcrowded situation. Again, why had the land just
not been left with the developer/owners? Why did Spiess even need to be
involved? This involvement cost an extra $46,000.00.
2/1/2000: The school board received the second appraisal by Jonathan H. Frank, at
F&M Appraisal Group, Inc. His appraisal was more generous. So in this scenario
THE SCHOOL BOARD HAD AGREED TO PAY $166,000 OVER FAIR
MARKET VALUE FOR THE LAND. This appraisal noted that the subject property
had been vacant for many years. At one point in the 80‟s, an elderly housing
development was proposed for the property but never left the preliminary planning stage.
The developers had owned the land for many years. They had access to their land
through an easement in a small subdivision down the road, called Golden Bell
Subdivision. In all those years, no one had ever been successful at an attempt to
develop the land.
At this time, A group of citizens known as CAUSE (Citizens Against Unreasonable
School Expenditures) published an ad in the newspaper. Making a now familiar
case, they asked that these points be considered as citizens debated the land
1. The School Board did not follow the customary procedure prior to signing a
secretly negotiated $500,000.00 purchase and sales agreement with the
anonymous sellers of the land. They school board requested no appraisal
regarding fair market price, land survey, or assessment of issues regarding
wetlands, and utilities. The suitability of the land for building a school or for
reasonable construction costs was not professionally evaluated. It was not until
citizens raised concerns at School Board meetings that they began pursuing these
studies. They hoped to have them completed prior to the March 14th vote.
2. The only “out clause” from the purchase and sales agreement is rejection of the
school bond by the voters. If the bond was approved, the land belonged to the
voters, whether or not a school could be built on it.
3. Entrance proximity to the Route 101 Baboosic Lake Road off ramp and to the
Baboosic Lake/Spring Road Intersection would present significant issues of
traffic, bus, and student safety.
4. If the school were to be built, a large number of 10 and 11 year old children
would be attending school, recreation and weekend activities within feet of the
busiest and most dangerous East West highway in the State of NH. It would be
inevitable that a child in this age range would eventually try to cross that
highway. The asked, wouldn’t it be inevitable that Route 101 would be widened
5. Amherst residents who have toured the property had observed significant
acreage, which appeared to be “wetland”. This raised the possibility of the state
denying approval for a construction project of this size, and leaving the school
board in possession of 19-21 acres, unsuitable for building, at a $500,000
expense to the taxpayers.
6. The abutting neighborhood encountered significant construction cost overruns in
the building of their homes due to extensive granite ledge. Two succeeding
developers in the adjacent Village Woods neighborhood are reported to have
gone bankrupt due to construction cost over-runs. Ledge related costs are said to
have been a major contributing factor by current residents of the neighborhood.
Topographically, the land also has an 18% grade on the site where school
construction would be proposed, adding potential site development costs for the
building and recreation fields (asking: don’t playing fields have a 0% grade?).
Trucks shift into low gear at a 7% grade.
7. One of the abutters believed he had a legal ownership right to the proposed
school entrance on Baboosic Lake Road. This was the property’s only access to
non-highway road frontage. (NO ONE EVER DISCUSSED NOR SEEMED
TO BE AWARE OF THE EASEMENT THROUGH THE GOLDEN BELL
SUBDIVISION TO THIS SITE, EVEN THEN.)
Abutters went on to say they supported new school construction, but believed this project
was hurried through in secret because of the critical need for school space following two
voter rejections of previous plans. They stated “Undoubtedly the School Board hoped to
avoid controversy and public objection through stealth and speed but in their haste have
entered into a risky purchase and sales agreement that no private potential homeowner
or his banker would have accepted”.
In following newspaper articles in The Cabinet, Felix Hertzka Chairman of Ways
and Means stated, “It’s a disaster,” referring to the completed site preparation cost
estimate, of over 1.5 million dollars just to make the land suitable for building. In sharp
contrast to glowing comments from school board members, Hertzka said he thought the
site was a bad piece of land for a school, but would be ideal for a park. Then Fire Chief
Rick Crocker also expressed concern about emergency access to the site during a joint
meeting with the ways and means committee and the school board.
2/8/00: Former resident Stevia Lynch asked the following questions:
Why this location and how was it selected? Were other locations considered? Why
weren’t several sites presented to the community for input before this particular site was
decided upon? What is the assessed value of the land? Is the purchase price of $500,000
reasonable in relation to the assessed value? Who are the owners of the site? What
constitutes “reasonable” profit when it comes to taxpayer money? She went on to note:
“Most Amherst residents realize that more classroom space is needed in our town. This
is not under dispute. However, once again, we are being asked to approve a bond issue
without all the relevant information. Once again, we are being asked to approve a bond
to build a school that may be based on dubious educational value. And once again, we
are being asked to approve a school expansion plan that does not appear to be well
constructed or well conceived and which has more questions than answers attached to it.
The Amherst taxpayer and the children of Amherst deserve better than another flawed
3/26/00: The Amherst Citizen wrote again about the site. Cliff Anne Wales stated: “At
the ballot box on March 14th, the voters defeated by a slim 32 votes, the building of a new
4-5 elementary school, however, by a majority vote they provided $546,000 to purchase
land for future development.
August 11, 2000 The newly purchased 21.5 acres was walked by the School Board, a
civil engineer, soil scientist and NH Dept. of Environmental Services (DES)
representative Frank Richardson, and Fred Urtz, AIA, of Lavallee/Brensinger, The
preliminary concept for a school on this property was based on the similarly sized Riddle
Brook Elementary School in Bedford which had been designed by Lavallee/Brensinger.
According to Fred Urtz, the Riddle Brook design wasn‟t a good option for land with a
fair amount of wetlands.
Urtz described the Amherst parcel as a “naturally beautiful site”, with three acres of
wetlands including a stream, a large shallow wetland area, and the possibility of vernal
ponds and man-made wet areas. The original plan called for a dredge and fill operation
to provide for parking and soccer fields. Urtz continued, “Considering the valuable
wetlands, the site development should be more environmentally sensitive, according to
Urtz. “This school can‟t be modeled after Riddle Brook, “AND A BIG SQUARE
SOCCER FIELD WON‟T FIT.”
This was not exactly what had been discussed at the onset of the project, but the board
had done so little due diligence it had no idea a plan similar to Riddle Brook Bedford
would never work. At the onset, in a newspaper interview, school board member Peter
De Bruyn Kops explained that the board had intentionally skirted the typical two-year
process by combining the land purchase and construction proposal.
When the proposed site plan was presented by Lavalee/Brensinger, it had a whole new
The school building was now a series of 3-4 pavilions interconnected horizontally
and vertically allowing the building to mold itself to the terrain and creating
opportunities for decks and other outdoor classroom spaces.
The prime wetlands are now a feature of the site. A series of boardwalks and
paths circle and cross the wetlands. Outdoor classrooms allow classes to meet, observe,
and experiment in and around the wetlands and forest.
Play-areas are distributed around the site. Walking/jogging circuits, ropes
courses, timber play structures will all work nicely in this environmentally friendly
scheme. Larger fields would be developed where possible.
The 4th and 5th grade science curriculums include the study of mammals, habitats,
life cycles, light, ecology, and weather. This site plan puts a superior educational
environment at the fingertips of the students and the teachers!
1/22/2001: Bob Grunbeck, Chairman of the school board stated in The Telegraph: “ We
want to do whatever is right and come to the truth. We would like not to do it in a public
setting and having people accusing us of doing things illegally – not that we‟ve heard that
from the Olsons, but other people. We want to come to the truth, but it will take time”.
That same article went on to say that Selectmen Chairman Steve Desmarias defended his
right as a private citizen to sell land to the school district, which was another entity than
and separate from town government.
Some of you will want every detail. So here is:
The Legal History of the property owned by Kathleen and Dennis Olson
Willard and Gertrude Batchelder purchased from Walter Fuller 10 acres, more or less,
on 4/12/46. This is recorded in Book 2389, p 236.
Willard and Gertrude Batchelder sold 2.07 of their 10 acres, more or less, to Maurice
Young on 6/20/49. This is recorded in Book 1225, p 131.
Willard and Gertrude Batchelder sold 6 of their remaining 8 acres, more or less, to Roy
and Edwin Parker. They maintained 2 acres for themselves and gave access via an
easement to Roy and Edwin Parker, described in a drawing. The purpose of this
easement was to access their 6 acres, as they had no frontage. The Batchelders
maintained the frontage for themselves. The Parkers used their property to mine gravel
from pits located at the rear of the parcel.
The deed dated 7/1/1959, included the following:
“Meaning and intending to convey all but two acres, more or less, being presently
retained by the grantors, of the premises conveyed to Willard H. Batchelder by Walter P.
Fuller by deed April 12, 1946 recorded Vol 1110, Page 43, Hillsborough County Registry
of Deeds, two acres, more or less having been conveyed previously to Maurice Young in
Also conveying herewith to said grantees, a right of way for trucks and motor vehicles
across the two-acre tract, more or less, being retained by grantors. For a more
particular description of the premises hereby conveyed see plan of land prepared by
William Falconer, Surveyor, entitled Roy Parker and Son Land, Amherst, NH which plan
is to be recorded.
Unfortunately, a “plan of land” referenced in the former paragraph was never
recorded. Furthermore, the legal description of the boundaries by reference to the
abutters or former abutters does not form a complete boundary. It does not “close”.
There is no way to draw the boundary, as described in the deed, to form a six-acre
parcel. Although the description of the tract in the deed appears to be clear, the parcel
cannot be located on the ground, as described, due to inconsistencies between the abutter
among the abutters’ metes and bounds descriptions.
However, the language of the deed is clear: MRS. BATCHELDER MEANT AND
INTEDED TO CONVEY 6 ACRES, KEEP 2 ACRES, AND GRANT A RIGHT OF WAY
OVER HER RETAINED LAND TO THE PARKER BROTHERS.
Mrs. Batchelder kept the original bill of sale signed by herself, her husband, and Roy and
Edwin Parker, stating that the land transferred to the Parker’s was 6 acres. In the late
60’s, Mrs. Batchelder sold a 4/10-acre parcel to the State of New Hampshire for the Rte.
101 right of way.
In 1959, the tax warrants and the property inventory of the Town of Amherst showed that
the Batchelder’s owned 8 +/- acres. In 1960, both sets of books were re-done to show the
sale of 6 acres to the Parker Brothers. From 1960 to 1965, the records of the Town of
Amherst show 2 acres for the Batchelder's and 6 for the Parker’s. Beginning with the
1960 tax year, the Town of Amherst assessed taxes in the amount of $91.00 against the
parcel retained by the Batchelders. The taxes due on the Parker parcel were $13.40,
reflecting its lack of frontage. Beginning in 1962 and continuing through 1967, the tax
warrants identified the Batchelder parcel as two acres and the Parker parcel as six
acres. In 1966, the Town of Amherst changed the assessment format warrants to tax
cards and the acreage was no longer noted on the tax records.
When the Batchelders transferred property to the Parkers in 1959, the deed contained a
Scribner’s error, which, if followed by a surveyor, would locate a point on the other side
of Baboosic Lake Road.. Mr. Falconer, the surveyor drew a picture, showing where Mr.
Parker was allowed to cross the Batchelder property. This picture contains the wording
“Property of Willard and Gertrude Batchelder” and a notation of an area 48000 sq. ft
containing her house and yard. Around the perimeter of this drawing is Roy Parker’s
name, indicating where he could use the remainder of the 2 acres. This plan was not
referenced in the deed.
In the deed from Batchelder to Parker the last paragraph states that there would be a
description of the premises conveyed entitled “Roy Parker and Son Land, Amherst,
NH”. This plan was not filed with the deed and its whereabouts are unknown.
The six-acre parcel conveyed to Edwin and Roy Parker in 1959 was impacted by a
State of NH eminent domain taking for layout and construction of Route 101 in 1969.
Although the State purportedly took a portion of the six-acre parcel, the plans for the
highway project mistakenly labeled the Parkers’ lot as being as 7.2 acres. Nothing in
the chain of title supports the increase in the size of the parcel.
Mr. Parker is dead. He knew he signed a bill of sale for 6 acres. There is no way of
knowing if he represented ownership rather than easement to the state. The Batchelder
deed is quite clear in the language of intent to keep 2 acres, and allow Mr. Parker an
easement over that land to haul gravel from his 6 acres.
In 1971 Warren Development Corp. (Desmarais et al) bought this disputed piece of land
from Mr. Parker. The deed does not recite any acreage. Mr. Parker did not own
frontage on Baboosic Lake Road that Warren Development claims to have purchased,
which was conveyed in a legal description for which there was no basis. It cannot be
determined whether the deed metes and bounds description contained an innocent error,
or represented a fraudulent conveyance. Recognizing the Parkers’ had initially
purchased 6 acres and that the State would require 3.68 acres for Route 101, it would be
logical to assume that Warren Development Corp. purchased 2.32 landlocked acres from
On July 12, 1972, the Parkers conveyed the necessary 3.68 acres to the State of NH for
the construction of Route 101.
On October 2, 1998, Gertrude Batchelder sold her 2 acres, more or less, to Kathleen and
Dennis Olson. Chicago Title insured the title for the Olsons.
Needless to say, the Olsons were surprised to learn that the Amherst School Board
thought it owned part of their frontage and that there was so much confusion surrounding
the description of their land. Mrs. Batchelder had no idea that Mr. Parker had claimed
ownership of any part of her 2 acres, nor did she know that he had “sold” it to Warren
Development Company. The Olsons thought they had bought less land than they
actually had because the real estate agent got the amount of land “owned” by Mrs.
Batchelder from the assessor‟s office at the Town of Amherst. Who knows where the
assessor in Amherst got the information?
On 10/31/2000 Mrs. Batchelder gave a notarized statement that at no point were Roy or
Edwin Parker given ownership of the 2 acres she maintained for herself.
The Olsons were delighted to discover that by deed they were, in fact, the owners of two
acres, more or less, less the 4/10s of an acre sold by Mrs. Batchelder to the State of NH.
The Olson‟s insisted that the Amherst School Board cease to claim their land and
publicly apologize to them. Furthermore they asserted that the Amherst School Board
had caused them pain and suffering, and had interfered with their enjoyment of their
property. When Tom Quinn, the title attorney for the school, wrote to the Olson‟s, he
apparently based opinion of ownership regarding frontage from the state survey prepared
for the construction of Route 101.
If the state mistakenly believed that land owned by Mrs. Batchelder belonged to Mr.
Parker (because he was using it via the easement), that is a mistake on the state‟s part,
caused by lack of simple due diligence. Mrs. Batchelder was oblivious that anyone
questioned the ownership of her land. She had lived on the land and used the land since
1947. The state said that in addition to the 6 acres that Mrs. Batchelder conveyed to Mr.
Parker, he also owned an additional 1.28-acre, which was her land that she let him use by
easement. There is no deed granting this to him, there is no tax warrant ever reflecting
this, in fact, there is nothing that exists to show this as his land other than a flawed note
on a highway survey map which has since been carried through three other real estate
THE FIRST TRIAL
The Amherst School Board continued to assert ownership over the area of the right
of way. On August 19, 2002, with no other options available, the Olsons filed Petition
to Quiet Title in Hillsborough County Superior Court in the case Olson v. Amherst
School District, No. 02-E-0393. The Olsons asserted that their parcel was the two-acre
parcel retained by the Batchelders in 1959. The Batchelder parcel began as ten acres with
two other relevant conveyances; first, a two acre parcel to Young and second, a six acre
parcel to Parker. Thus, after the two conveyances the Batchelder parcel was
approximately two acres, which is consistent with the expressed intent and reserved
parcel in the 1959 deed.
To the contrary, the Amherst School Board asserted that the trial court should ignore
the language in the 1959 deed regarding the size of the parcel that the Batchelders
retained. Rather, the Town diverted the court’s attention to the plans prepared at the
time of the State takings of land for 101 ten years after the relevant transfer. The
Town offered the testimony of a surveyor who relied significantly on the 1969 plans,
which INEXPLICABLY increased the size of the Parker parcel by 1.2 acres.
Despite the straightforward approach offered by the Olsons, the trial court found in
favor of the Town. In doing so, the court did note that the deed, which created this
dispute, was “rather confusing and poorly drawn.” Also, the court acknowledged the
conveyance of the right of way “add(ed) to the confusion.” To resolve its confusion,
the court relied on the surveyor testimony in favor of evidence offered by the Town tax
The court essentially concluded that the Olsons “got what they paid for.” However,
there is nothing in the record to support this conclusion. In fact, the cottage purchased
by the Olsons is 720 sq. ft.; hardly the size of other houses in Amherst. It had nothing
to do with the size of the lot and everything to do with the size of the tiny little house,
and its location immediately adjacent to Route 101.
In reaching its conclusion, the court refused to consider more contemporaneous
evidence of the Batchelders intent at the time of the six-acre conveyance. The Olsons
offered evidence prepared and maintained by the tax assessors of the Town of Amherst.
For the years 1962 through 1965, the Town tax warrants identified the size of the
Batchelder parcel as two acres and the size of the Parker parcel as six acres.
According to the relevant statutes, the tax warrants were prepared based on inventory
forms prepared by the taxpayers at the time. The court ruled the evidence irrelevant
unless someone testified on the process followed by the Town. Thus, the court refused
to consider evidence of contemporaneous Town tax records.
Finally, the court relied on a plan recorded “some six months after” the 1959
conveyance at issue. The court acknowledged that the plan identified in the Batchelder
to Parker deed does not exist and “was not recorded.” A second plan with a different
title was recorded 6 months later, but no one knows why. However, with little
explanation, the court considered the other plan recorded outside of the chain of title to
support its view that the Batchelders actually retained an approximately one acre
parcel rather than the two acres set forth in the relevant deed.
The court ruled that Mrs. Batchelder’s written and notarized statement was irrelevant
because she was not in possession of the property when she made the statement. They
were apparently unconcerned that a woman who had lived there for 50 years had
something to say which totally disagreed with the position of the Amherst School
Board. Her statement said that she sold 6 acres, kept 2 and gave an easement over her
land. In other words, she said the school could not possibly own her land. She never
The court heard testimony from Gary Collins, surveyor from Hayner and Swanson.
Mr. Collins recognized that the call of westerly to the Eaton property was incorrect, but
determined that the locus could be surveyed by reference to the “meaning and
intending” clause. He concluded that frontage was conveyed to the School District. He
must have been talking about someone else’s deed. This deed rather clearly states that
in the meaning and intent clause that the Olsons own two acres.
THE SECOND COURT CASE
4/30/2003: Following this loss, the Olson‟s appealed to the Supreme Court. ONCE
AGAIN, THE COURT RULED AGAINST THE OLSONS!
The judge concluded that although the Batchelder deed clearly stated that it meant
and intended to convey 2 acres, it was, in fact, incorrect. He decided that the flawed
language in the deed could be construed to convey the contested land. Therefore,
the fact that Mrs. Batchelder INTENDED to keep two acres, and establish a right of
way, was simply irrelevant. The judge acknowledged, however, that the surveyor
who presented evidence, Gary Collins of Hayner Swanson, was correct in his
opinion that a right of way might make sense due to the elevation of Baboosic Lake
Road from the property. The elevation, however, at the time of the conveyance, did
not exist. It did not exist until such time as the taking was completed and the
overpass was built, thus necessitating the raising of Baboosic Road, perhaps 6 or so
Who bought the land from Mrs. Batchelder? The Parkers. What did they do? They
built roads. What Mr. Collins was trying to do was explain the inexplicable. Why
would the school have frontage on a piece of land and also own an easement to pass
over that same piece of land? THAT IS SUCH A FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION but
on one asked it.
If I own land, which has frontage on my road, I do not need to grant to myself an
easement over land, which I own.
The 1959 Batchelder to Parker deed makes reference to a plan; unfortunately, a
plan of that specific name was not recorded. The Olsons sought to admit into
evidence an affidavit signed by Gertrude Batchelder, which expressed her opinion
as to ownership of land at issue. The Court ruled that the affidavit was
INADMISSIBLE. The Court said that Mrs. Batchelder was not in possession of the
real estate at the time of the affidavit. Also, said the court, it would appear that the
location of the boundaries was in controversy at the time the affidavit was executed.
The court therefore disregarded the affidavit of the women who owned the property
from 1946 until 1998, and her statement that she NEVER did anything except create
a right of way over her land for the Parker Brothers to access their 6 acres, and that
she retained 2 acres for herself. She made this affidavit, which was notarized, in her
The court further noted that the listing agreements were prepared and signed by the
Olsons, stating they were buying ¾ of an acre, not 2 acres. The Olsons maintain
that the realtor told them that the property included the entire frontage and that
there was a right of way over part of that frontage. The dirt road at the northeast
corner of the property was described by the realtor to be the right of way. They had
no idea what they were buying, except that the total frontage belonged to them, as
well as some of the property behind the house.
The Olson family was unhappy. They believed the land had been stolen from them. But
after battling for over 3 years, they had no more financial resources with which to seek
THE SECOND INJUSTICE: (or)
THE ISSUE OF TITLE INSURANCE IS ALSO IN DISPUTE
7/26/2000: The Olsons received a letter from Jim Quinn, of Hubbard and Quinn, the title
attorney for the school. In this letter Thomas Quinn, title attorney for the school, said
that he had reviewed the state survey, which showed the Parker Brothers owning 7.25
acres, rather than the 6 acres they were conveyed by Mrs. Batchelder‟s deed. Attorney
Quinn told the Olsens that it was time they accepted the fact that the title to these
properties is not defective. His work had been reviewed, at his request, by counsel for
Fidelity Title. He went on to say: “You have investigated the matter at the Town Hall,
the Registry of Deeds and the Department of Transportation. None of this activity has
produced any evidence that your lot is configured generally other than as shown on the
Falconer Plan…, As far as I‟m concerned, title to these three properties is clear.
The town tax records supported the claim made by the Olsons, as did the deed. The deed
said Mrs. Batchelder conveyed 6 acres, not 7.25 acres. Where did the Parker
Brothers get legal title to the rest of her land? THE ANSWER IS: NEVER.
9/14/2000: Peter De Bruyn Kops, Amherst School Board, in a questions and answers
column in The Amherst Citizen what the school district had done to ensure clean title?
The response was: “A real estate lawyer researched the title as is commonly done for
land purchases. In addition, a licensed surveyor verified title and the School District
owns a title insurance policy. This title insurance covers the cost of the land plus any
improvements (e.g. building) that are made to the land”.
1/27/2000: The Olsons contacted Attorney James Kaklamanos. The Olsons purchased
title insurance from Chicago Title Insurance Company. Kaklamanos had done the policy
for them. That title company appointed a Massachusetts attorney, Kenneth Wacks, to
represent the Olsons.
1/31/2002: The Olsons received a letter from Jose Suarez, attorney for Fidelity National
Title, insurer to the school board. He told the Olsons to give his name to their title
insurance company. The title attorney who prepared the title insurance for the school
board was Thomas Quinn, from Hubbard and Quinn.
Contrary to the information in the title policy, I believe the school does have legal access
to the property through Golden Bell Subdivision. This deed contains a right of way for
vehicles of any type, size or description to pass into the school property. (That it would
require one more large wetland crossing might be a reason no one wanted to go there).
How I found the right of way to begin with was by going back through the deeds
referenced in the Olson title insurance policy. Additionally, we believe there is evidence
of a right of way through Village Woods drive to the school parcel. However, the
neighbors there had been outraged to think that the school should try to enter from that
side and were extremely vocal to the school board about their outrage.
We were still left to wonder why no one discovered during the preparation of the title
policy for the school, that Mr. Parker had no evidence of ownership of 7.25 acres of land,
merely 6 acres. DON’T FORGET: One of the more interesting pieces of evidence
ignored in this case is the old, ORIGINAL, HANDWRITTEN bill of sale, in which Mrs.
Batchelder sells 6 acres, and keeps two.
2/4/2000: Gary Collins, Licensed Land Surveyor for Hayner Swanson, wrote to Dr.
Lalley, the Superintendent of Schools. In that letter he mentioned that his company had
begun a survey in 1981, which was not completed. He went on to say that he was
confident that size and configuration of the land sold to Roy and Edwin Parker was
substantially the same as depicted on the highway plans of the State of NH for the layout
of Rte. 101. He stated that the state plans were powerful records of not only the
understanding of the boundary lines at that time, but also a record of the facts. He went
on to say that even though the plan referenced in Mrs. Batchelders deed was NEVER
FOUND, the document, which they discovered recorded 6 months later, must surely be
the document, even though it was not even the same title referenced in the deed!
No one seemed to notice that the deeds for the same property transferred to Mr. Young
and Mr. Lareau contained different measurements, which would have to impact the
boundary the school had purchased. The state did not look at these deeds. They were not
relevant to the state taking. To the degree that anyone relied on the state plan, they
missed the fact that from one transaction to another 91 feet of back line across the Olson
property simply disappeared. It used to be a joke on the planning board that a lot of
property “just got bigger” some times.
3/15/2001: Attorney Wacks wrote to the Olsons with regard to the dispute on the
frontage. He reported that they had considered all the data; Mrs. Batchelder‟s deed, etc.
as well as the title analysis of James Kaklamanos, and the title report of Hubbard and
Quinn Title Services dated July 26, 2000, addressed to the Olsons. The title company
concluded that title was as insured in the title insurance policy. They said that to the
extent that the dispute involved a claim against the title of what was owned by the
Parkers or their successors in interest, it had been a matter specifically excepted and
reserved from the insured description and therefore specifically excepted and reserved
from coverage under the title insurance policy. In other words, what he was saying was
that the right of way contained in the deed to Roy and Edwin S. Parker was not insured.
That letter went on to say: “When one diagrams that which has been sold to Young,
Parker and the State of NH, it is possible to determine that there remains
approximately two acres which was conveyed to the Olsons. Chicago Title Insurance
Co. is not aware of any challenge to title for the remaining two acres. (THIS WAS
PRECISELY THE ISSUE ABOUT WHICH HE HAD BEEN CONTACTED!) The title
insurance policy does not indemnify with regard to the precise location of the boundaries
of what remains, it indemnifies as to the quality of title to the insured premises (the
remaining two acres), which is not challenged. To the extent, if any, that it is alleged that
there is a right of way through the insured premises, the right of way has been
specifically excepted from coverage by the language in the Schedule A, Exhibit “A”
description”. That the state had as a routine policy extinguished rights of way after a
taking for a highway, was not seemingly important.
He went on to say “This policy does not insure against loss or damage… which arise by
reason of: …(3) Discrepancies, conflicts in boundary lines, shortage in area,
encroachments and any facts which an accurate survey and inspection of the premises
were disclosed”. He said Chicago title was sympathetic with the unfortunate situation in
which the Olsons found themselves. They denied liability for the claim.
3/17/2001: I emailed to Kenneth Wacks the following information: The Olsons were
quite aware that there was an easement granted by Mrs. Batchelder to Mr. Parker to
enable him to haul gravel across her land, as Mr. Parker‟s six acres had no frontage. .
The Olsons were not making a complaint that had anything to do with that right of way.
Additionally, that right of way was to land which is now State Highway 101, and was
never a right of way to the 2 large back lots owned by the developers. That Chicago Title
was not aware of any challenge to title for the remaining two acres was PRECISELY
THE CHALLENGE. The Amherst School Board was claiming ownership of 1.25 acres
of the 2 acres owned by the Olsons.
I asked that Attorney Wacks understand the issues: This was not a boundary dispute, as
such. The school board claimed ownership of the majority of the 2 aces in the deed given
to the Olsons by Mrs. Batchelder. The school board claimed that the area depicted in the
right of way sold to them by the Trust, which purchased it from the developers who
bought it from Mr. Parker. MR. PARKER NEVER OWNED PART OF THE TWO
ACRES; THEREFORE HE COULD NEVER SELL IT. Mr. Parker sold a
landlocked piece of his 6 acres to a developer(s). This landlocked piece of land was on
the opposite side of the state highway from the Olsons. In that deed was language
conveying the right of way through the Batchelder land as though the right of way itself
was property owned by Mr. Parker, rather than USED by Mr. Parker. The developer who
sold the land to the school district conveyed the property with that language to the school
district. Therefore, the Amherst School District was claiming that the original right
of way is land that was OWNED by Mr. Parker, NOT Mrs. Batchelder. They are
claiming 1.25 of the 2 acres owned by the Olsons as their land, and were intending
to use it as an entrance for the new school.
(As an aside, one of the school board members had remarked to me that it was too bad
that several cute little houses around the Olsons would have to give up some of their front
yards for turning lanes. The school board never EVEN CONSIDERED using their
LEGAL right of way down the street a few houses, perhaps because no one ever told
them they had a legal right of way. Or if they knew, they chose to disregard it.
3/21/2001: Attorney for the Olsons, John Cronin, wrote to Kenneth Wacks, attorney for
the title company. Attorney Cronin pointed out that after reviewing the title policy
purchased by the Olsons he had come to the conclusion that the claim asserted by the
Amherst School Board was covered by the title policy. I went to visit Attorney Wacks
with the Olsons. Five minutes after we arrived at the office, he got a phone call, excused
himself and turned our whole conversation over to a junior associate. At the end of the
meeting he re-entered the room, and apologized that he had to take the call because it was
from “someone important”. He forgot that our issue was important and didn‟t seem to
care that we had driven all the way to Wakefield, MA, to discuss this issue with him, and
had an appointment to do so.
Attorney Cronin pointed out that Mr. & Mrs. Olson deserved the benefits of their title
insurance policy. Further, that if the title insurance company did not acknowledge
coverage and provide an immediate defense, that the Olsons‟ legal rights would be
seriously jeopardized. Furthermore, because of their financial circumstances, it would be
extremely unlikely that they could afford to relocate in Amherst unless this issue could be
resolved in their favor. There could perhaps be a legitimate basis for a claim against the
title insurer for damages that exceeded their policy limit.
7/12/2001 Attorney Cronin received a letter from Chicago Title, denying the claim.
10/4/2002 Olson attorney Cronin wrote to Olson attorney Wacks to say that he was
surprised to note Attorney Wacks was planning a court Appearance for the Amherst
School Board. Since Attorney Wacks had consulted with the Olsons and me regarding
the scope and extend of their title insurance coverage, it appeared there was a conflict of
interest. At this meeting confidential information was disclosed by us, to the
representative for Attorney Wacks (remember, he was the guy who had to go take the
more important phone call from a more important client). Why was the attorney hired by
the Olson‟s title company trying to testify for the school board?
10/30/2002 Olson attorney Cronin wrote to the Olsons that attorney Wacks had agreed to
withdraw, although he disagreed there was a conflict of interest. The insurance company
would have to hire another attorney.
THE THIRD INJUSTICE (OR)
So the injustice continues in a different way:
November 20,2001, the Olsons went to the Zoning Board of Adjustment to request a
Variance in order to construct a barn within a setback from Rte. 101. There is a 100-foot
setback from Rte. 101, which is a scenic road. It is from that scenic road setback that the
Olsons were seeking a variance. Dennis Olson stated that he proposed to demolish the
existing barn structure along with another small shed next to the barn, and construct a 28‟
x 36‟ barn. There was another shed close to the proposed barn, which was going to be
moved. The lot was small, and there was no other area to construct the barn. They told
the ZBA that there was a property dispute going on with the School Board, and that the
barn was proposed to remain on their property, not the disputed property.
The variance was granted and the new barn was to be built in the exact same location as
an existing structure. MRS. BATCHELDER HAD RECEIVED A PERMIT TO BUILD
THAT STRUCTURE ON HER LAND IN 1989. The chairman of the School Board at
the time, Bob Grunbeck, was present at this 2001 meeting and offered no objection. The
variance was granted. The barn was built.
The Olsons believed their boundary lines were correct because on 2/4/2000, Dr. Richard
Lally, then Superintendent of Schools for Amherst, sent them a letter from Hayner
Swanson, stating that “ Hayner Swanson was setting monuments at the various corners,
as needed, in accordance with the plan.”
3/20/02, the Olsons received a permit from the Town of Amherst to construct an in-
ground swimming pool and this was completed. John Cronin, attorney for the Olsons,
wrote to Rolf Goodwin, attorney for the School Board on 12/12/02. In this letter, he
stated that the swimming pool was set back more than the required fifteen feet from the
line the school district contends is its property line. Also he offered to make arrangement
to tour the property and verify the setbacks. Mr. Cronin never heard any comment or
objection from Mr. Goodwin. The pool was built.
THE ZONING ADMINISTRATOR THREATENS THE OLSONS
May 3, 2004, the Olsons received a letter from the zoning administrator, Charlie
Tiedemann, that “It has come to my attention that you have constructed a barn, shed, and
a swimming pool in violation of the Amherst Zoning Ordinance, Article IV, Section 4-3,
Paragraph C3. In addition, the Zoning Office has no record of a building permit being
issued for the construction or relocation of the shed. This is a violation of Section H of
the Amherst building Code, Subsection V (Permits).
The variance you requested for the barn, notes that the barn will be constructed a
minimum of fifteen feet from the southerly property line. A recent survey of the adjacent
lot indicates that the barn, shed, and the pool is in violation of the required setback or is
constructed on land of others. Therefore, I am revoking the building permit for the barn,
and for the pool. You are then required to apply for permits to move these structures so
that they will conform to the Amherst Zoning Ordinance…Failure to bring your property
into compliance with the Town‟s requirements will result in the Town seeking
enforcement in the Hillsborough County Superior Court. If the Town is required to
pursue such legal action, the Town will not only seek the payment of fines as allowable
(up to $275 per day after your receipt of this notice), but also recovery of the Town‟s cost
and reasonable attorney‟s fees.”
July 6, 2004, 2 months after the Olsons were notified of this problem, they were
summoned to the Milford District Court, in an order signed by these selectmen: Robert
Heaton, Marilyn Peterman, Jay Dinkel, Bruce Bowler, and George Infanti. This Writ of
Summons alleged the following:
1. The variance for construction of a barn was approved.
2. The Olsons constructed a shed and swimming pool in addition to the barn;
(A permit for the pool had been previously issued and it was constructed).
3. There was no building permit for the shed. (Dennis Olson had told the ZBA when
he applied for the variance that he was moving the shed. He thought that since he
told them he was doing this, and they blessed the building of the barn, he had the
right to move the shed).
4. The barn and swimming pool are not constructed in accordance with the Variance
Application and approval. (They were, in fact, constructed in accordance with the
application. They grouped the barn and pool together and in fact, the pool had
5. The barn and pool have been constructed in a different location than was shown
on the Variance Application, and within the required setback, less than 15 feet
from the southerly property line. (Dennis Olson supplied them with a drawing
showing the exact location of the proposed structures.)
6. The Olson believe they are within their property, however the boundary dispute
has been resolved by a final order of Superior Court. The Town has the right to
July 21, 2004, the Olsons requested a building permit application to expand the size of
the 750 sq. ft. cottage. They were told by Charlie Tiedemann, Director of Planning and
Development Services, that “No permits shall be issued to any lot upon which there is
outstanding a recorded violation of the rules, regulations or Ordinances of the Town of
Amherst, excepting any permit required to correct such situation.” In other words, the
Olsons could not enlarge their house.
7/22/04 the Olsons again communicated with Beth Fernald. They invited representatives
of the Town and the School District to their property, so they could resolve the issues.
Attorney Fernald replied that after her conversation with the Olsons of the prior week,
she expected they would send her a specific proposal to bring the property into
compliance with the zoning ordinance. She stated that this would required either moving
their building or negotiating some sort of land swap or purchase from the school district.
She urged the Olsons to make a definite proposal.
7/27/04, the Olsons responded by proposing that the school take 25 feet required along
the east boundary of lot 96, thus allowing the school to access the land previously owned
by Mrs. Batchelder, deeded to the Olsons, that the court had taken away.
11/02/04 the Olsons were notified that they were also being sued by the School Board,
Amherst School District v. Kathleen and Dennis Olson, 04-#-0427. This stated they had
been sued and named as a party in a case filed with the Northern District of Hillsborough
County. The District asserted that without authorization or right, the Olsons had
constructed a barn and shed on the Amherst School District‟s property; deposited
vehicles, a trailer, and other personalty on the Amherst School District‟s property; and
constructed a swimming pool less than the required setback distance from the Amherst
School District property.
They further asserted that the barn, shed, and swimming pool were built in violation of
the Town of Amherst zoning ordinance and are the subject of a zoning enforcement
They further asserted that the “Olsons‟ barn, shed, vehicles, trailer, and other property on
the Amherst School District‟s land is causing it irreparable harm for which is has no
adequate remedy at law.”
The School District said it was entitled to a declaratory judgment and may command the
Olsons to remove the barn, shed, vehicles, trailer, and other property from its land. They
further asserted that they had the right to command the Olsons to remove the swimming
pool to the extent it violated the setback requirements of the Town of Amherst.
The School District requested that the Court issue a preliminary injunction enjoining the
Olsons to remove the barn, shed, vehicles, trailer, and other property they have caused to
be located on land of the Amherst School District; that they be forced to remove their
swimming pool to the extent it violated the setback requirements of the town and refrain
from entering upon or causing property to be deposited or erected on land of the Amherst
School District. They requested Court costs and attorneys fees be paid by the Olsons.
So what is the IRREPARABLE HARM FOR WHICH THE SCHOOL DISTRICT
HAS NO ADEQUATE REMEDY AT LAW?
1. They claim the swimming pool is approximately 1.5 feet on school property.
The pool permit was issued on 3/20/02 and was constructed to comply with
the Town of Amherst required setbacks for swimming pools. Aquatime Pools
and Spa Contractors, worked with the Olsons to stay within the disputed area
to meet the requirements, and the Olsons relied on preliminary stakes set by
the Amherst School Districts Surveyors, Hayner and Swanson. The Amherst
School District Survey DOES NOT STATE THAT THE POOL IS
2. They claim the barn is on school property (approximately 80%).
3. They claim the shed is totally on school property.
The Olsons disagreed. The barn permit was issued on 11/20/01 and the barn was
constructed to comply with the variance and the Town of Amherst zoning setbacks. The
Olsons relied on the preliminary stakes of Hayner and Swanson Surveying, which
surveyed the property for the school district in Dec. of 2000.
11/08/2004 a hearing was held for the Town of Amherst v. Dennis Olson and Kathleen
Olson in Milford District court, Docket #04-CV-74. The judge ruled that no matter how
it happened, this problem was the fault of the Olsons. The barn required a variance,
which the Olsons obtained, but the barn was not constructed in accordance with the
variance application and approval, said Judge Crocker. She felt it had been constructed
with the setback required by the Zoning Ordinance, and in fact, she said that the shed and
barn were built almost entirely on school property.
Judge Crocker saw a plan, which showed the shed and barn almost entirely on school
property. All she cared about was that it was over the property line. She did not care that
the Olsons had received a letter from Dr. Lalley in 2002 stating that Hayner and Swanson
were setting the boundary markers. She disregarded this piece of evidence.
Judge Crocker decided that although the Olsons may not have intended to violate the
setback requirements, they had done so, and the Town was entitled to enforce its Zoning
The Town provided formal written notice to the Olsons of the zoning violation by letter
dated 5/3/2004, and the Olsons had not corrected the violations. Judge Crocker ruled that
the town was entitled to a civil penalty of up to $275.00 for each day since the Olsons
received the May 3, 2004 letter notifying them of these violations. As of November
8,2004, a maximum fine of $44,275.00 could be imposed.
The court found that the nature and circumstances of these violations did not justify the
imposition of the maximum fine. The fine imposed was a mere $22,000. It was
suspended until 4/28/2005, a time period which the court suggested should be used to
correct the violations, including the negotiation of a land swap or purchase with the
school district that will correct the setback violations, or the relocation of the barn and
shed on to their own property. If the Olsons were to correct the violations during the
sixty-day period, the fine would not be imposed. If not, it would be, with additional fines
imposed if the violations were to continue unabated. She ordered the Olsons to pay the
attorney fees for the Town attorney, as they did not take any action to correct the
violations for two months.
So the moral of this visit to court is as follows: If you should ever receive a letter from
the Superintendent of Schools, saying that Hayner Swanson is coming to set boundary
markers, never trust that person to be correct. The Town will later go to court to try to
make you move your barn and your swimming pool.
Now the Olsons were in a panic. They were trying to keep Dennis‟s business going. He
lost his cool in court and yelled at the judge. He could not find legal counsel, as he had
no more money. Amherst is one of the most powerful towns in New Hampshire. They
were facing the 3 of the largest law firms in New Hampshire. The school board was
suing them as well. A carpenter and his stay at home wife were trying to do the legal
3/29/2005 the Olsons got an email from Ralph Holmes, attorney for the School District.
It said: “Per my message on your answering machine, the school district is not inclined
to make a settlement proposal at this time. If you wish to make an offer, I will
communicate it to my client for consideration”.
3/30/2005 the Olsons wrote to Ralph Homes. They told Mr. Holmes they had submitted
a request to the Town of Amherst attorney, Beth Fernald, to ask that a meeting be set up
with the Town of Amherst Representatives and the Amherst School District. The request
was an invitation for all parties involved to come to their home, so that they could come
to some type of compromise to resolve this issue. Beth Fernald recommended a more
specific proposal before a meeting. On 7/27/2004 they had submitted a proposal to her
and she informed them that she would forward the proposal to Ralph Holmes. In August
they still had not heard from Beth or Ralph Holmes so they called Beth Fernald who said
she had sent the proposal to Ralph Holmes, and would send it to him again. Both their
invitation and proposal went unanswered.
The Olsons went on to say that although they disagreed with the Superior Court and
disputed the accuracy of the surveyed plan done by Hayner and Swanson, at that time it
could only be to the benefit of the School district and the Olson Family to negotiate.
They submitted their original proposal of 7/27/2004, again. This proposal gave the
School District access to cross the land only, and gave the rest of the land to the Olsons.
3/31/2005 the Amherst School District filed a Motion to Continue Trial Management
Conference and Trial. The District stated that Ralph Holmes, their attorney, would be on
sabbatical that coming summer and therefore unavailable for the Trial Management
Conference and Trial as scheduled. They requested that the Trial Management
Conference and Trial be scheduled for a date after 9/1/2005.
4/14/2005, the Olsons got an email from Ralph Homes, attorney for the School district. It
said: “Per my voicemail, I am canceling our meeting scheduled for tomorrow. Please
call me to discuss”.
4/20/2005 the Olsons received a request from Beth Fernald, Bradley, Burnett, Kinyon,
Fernald and Green, to pay the Town attorney fees as soon as possible, in the amount of
4/21/2005 the Court granted to the School District a rescheduled date for a Trial
Management conference on 9/23/2005 and Court Trial on 10/13/2005.
4/22/2005 the Olsons wrote to the Selectmen of the Town of Amherst the following:
“As most of you know, Dennis and I have been in a land dispute with the Amherst School
District, since December of 1999, over the Baboosic Lake Road Property. The superior
Court found on behalf of the Amherst School district in 2003.
As a result of the court order, our permit for our barn which was issued in 2001 was
revoked in 2004, for violation of the required setbacks. The Town of Amherst sued us in
the Milford District court of $22,000.00 and attorney’s fees. The Milford District Court
order dated 2/2005 stated that we had until 4/28/05, to move the barn or resolve this with
the School District. We were also denied a permit in 2004, for an addition to our 728 sq.
We made sure that the Town of Amherst and the Zoning Board of adjustment were
aware of the land dispute. We relied on the preliminary stakes set in 2000, the Amherst
School Districts Surveyors, to meet the required setbacks. After the court order of 2003,
the surveyors set granite posts in different locations than what was staked off in 2000.
We removed two sheds and put the barn in their place.
In March of 2005, we received a call from Ralph Holmes, the School Districts Attorney,
stating that if we would like to make a proposal settlement we could, although the School
District wasn’t inclined to do so. We submitted our original proposal of 2004, to Mr.
Holmes, and upon receipt of the proposal he suggested that a meeting be set up so we
could talk. We scheduled a meeting with his office for 4/14/2005, on April 13. Mr.
Holmes cancelled the meeting, informing Dennis that the Amherst School District doesn’t
have the authority to deed land.
We request that the Selectmen hold a town meeting, so that the voters of Amherst can
vote on our proposals, that the Town of Amherst not assess the fines and fees in the court
order of February 2005, not assess attorneys fees, not assess any additional fines and
fees and not hold us responsible for any and all fees associated with this dispute.
Dennis and I moved into Amherst with our 3 boys in October of 1998. We purchased our
first home and thought we had found security for our children. Since this land dispute
has started, we have yet to feel secure, in Amherst. We pray that this unnecessary
situation comes to an end; it has and continues to destroy the quality of our lives and
what we wanted for our children.”
6/15/05 the Olsons were served with a motion made by the Town of Amherst to show
cause, if any, why they should not be ordered to pay this judgment in full or in periodic
payments under penalties of contempt, pursuant to RSA 524:6-a. To show cause, if any,
why they should not be held in contempt for failure to pay the judgment in this matter as
ordered by this court. They were told that failure to appear at the aforementioned hearing
might result in an order for their arrest.
6/16/2005 Gary Collins, surveyor for Hayner Swanson made an Affidavit. In item # 8 of
this Affidavit he asserted that Hayner/Swanson did not set boundary monuments on the
Olsons or the District‟s property in 2000. THIS DIRECTLY CONTRADICTED THE
LETTER RECEIVED BY THE OLSONS FROM DR. LALLEY, THE
SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS. This letter from Hayner/Swanson to Dr. Lalley
was dated 2/4/2000 and said: “WE WILL BE SETTING MONUMENTS AT THE
VARIOUS CORNERS, AS NEEDED, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THAT PLAN.
Dr. Lalley informed the Olsons, and they relied on that information provided to them by
the Superintendent of Schools.
6/23/2005 attorney Michael Kenison Motioned for summary judgment. At this time the
Olsons did not answer based on the wording in the Notice of Court trial (All pending
motions shall be heard at trial management conference, or if necessary at another time set
by the court). Unable to afford legal representation any longer, they could only rely on
the constructed language in the notice of court trial and were unaware of the guidelines of
the law in preparation for court. Misunderstanding what they should do, they did not
6/30/2005 the Amherst selectmen responded. Beth Fernald, the Town Attorney,
petitioned the court to find the Olsons in Contempt. This had been signed by Marilyn
Peterman, Jay Dinkle, George Infanti, Bruce Bowler and Tom Grella, acting as the Board
of Selectmen on 5/5/2005.
7/28/2005 the Olsons were ordered to Milford District Court. They were to show cause,
why they should not be ordered to pay the judgment in full or in periodic payments under
penalties of contempt. The Town of Amherst requested that the Court find the Olsons in
contempt, order them to pay the fine of $22,000 within 15 days, and order that the Town
should have a lien on the Olsons property equal to the amount of the fine if they remain
in contempt after the 15 day period, and further relief as the Court felt just.
August 2005, Dennis Olson‟s father died.
8/23/2005 Judge Lewis granted Michael Kenison‟s Motion for Summary Judgment. This
meant the Court granted the School District the relief it sought.
9/2005 Dennis Olson Sr. crushed 5 ribs and ruptured his spleen and lost 60% of his
blood, in a sports related injury. At this time the Town of Amherst had a judgment
against him and he was unable to act in any financial way to protect his family in a time
of medical crisis.
9/1/2005 Dennis and Kathleen Olson requested Reconsideration of the Motion for
Summary Judgment. In their request they stated: Because of the rescheduling of the
Trial Management conference and the Court Trial, they believed they did not need to
submit any motions, until 10 days prior to the rescheduled date.
9/6/2005 the School District objected to the motion to reconsider, stating that even
assuming that the basis for relief articulated by the Olsons, namely, the ignorance of court
procedure were a legitimate ground for relief, they failed to explain what facts or law
they might have presented to the Court in opposition to the summary judgment motion
that would have made any difference.
9/15/2005 the Motion for reconsideration made by the Olsons was denied.
November 2005, Kathleen Olson‟s father died after a lengthy battle with cancer.
December 2005, Kathleen Olson‟s brother died from cancer.
12/7/2005 the Olsons received a letter from Ralph Holmes. Dennis Olson and I had gone
to the school board meeting the prior week. I lost my temper and said that I was ashamed
of the school board for their actions and that they should be ashamed of themselves for
continuing their outrageous war against the Olsons, when all that was needed was a
simple lot line change.
Ralph Holmes said, in his letter of that date, that he was writing to set forth a formal
settlement proposal. He first reviewed the history of the dispute. Then he went on to say
that the School Board was willing to consider a warrant article authorizing a sale to the
Olsons, of the minimum amount of land surrounding the barn to allow it to stand (noting
that the shed appears to be moveable). So far, he said that the Olsons had shown no
interest in this approach, perhaps because of financial concerns. Although the Board
would prefer to sell the land for cash, it would consider an exchange of services, such as
carpentry services by Dennis Olson, as the sales price. He said this would be a highly
unusual arrangement and reflected the Board‟s desire to consider creative settlement
He decided to file his own warrant article.
1/10/2006 Dennis and Kathleen Olson received an Order of Notice Motion for contempt.
(At the bottom it said: If it is determined at that hearing that you are in contempt of
court you may be INCARCERATED). Dennis Olson had a new vision: one in
which he and Kathleen are sharing the same cell! Dennis called Deborah Cort,
Howard Coulter and Ralph Holmes. Ralph Holmes called back, saying that this action
had been filed a while back. At this point the school board was well aware that Dennis
Olson would be putting forth a warrant article to fix this problem. Why was it
considered necessary to arrest them for being in contempt? How much more could
we kick the guy who was already down?
1/14/06 Dennis met with John Harvey, chairman of the Amherst Conservation
Commission. The 1998 Master Plan requests that whenever possible, conservation land
should be contiguous parcels, to be in the best interest of the town. On the west bound
side of Rte. 101, across from the school site property, is 12 acres of conservation land for
a bird sanctuary and on the north side of Baboosic Lake Road is the B&M railroad
conservation site, which is 18 acres. The Village Woods common grounds are a 16-acre
parcel. The parcel owned currently by the Amherst School District, if sold to the Town
of Amherst, would create 66 acres of conservation land within the geographic center of
the Town. Tributaries to Beaver Brook should be protected, according to the Master
Plan, and this parcel directly feeds Beaver Brook. Perhaps the best use for the school
site is to sell it to the Conservation Commission to protect the aquifer, Dennis
Safe drinking water for the Amherst Village water System is paramount. If
everyone is careful, substances that could pollute our drinking water will never find their
way to our wells. This property is located within the area from which water flows to the
Pennichuck Wells. As such, it is important that we are aware that what we do with this
property could affect the qualify of the water which is used by the water system, in our
Would you pour gasoline, motor oil, paint, garden or lawn chemicals, or household
chemicals into your drinking water? What happens when someone pours any products
such as these down their toilet, sink, or into the ground? What happens when a large
school is placed on a property next to such a rich area of wetland and a well, which
serves hundreds of people?
January 24, 2006, The Amherst School District petitioned the Court to Withdraw the
Motion for Contempt. The District informed the Court that the conduct at issue was now
the subject of warrant articles to be presented to the voters on March 14, 2006, and that
the passage of one or more of these articles may resolve the pending dispute. The
district requested that the hearing scheduled for January 30, 2006 be cancelled.
1/29/2006 we have finally seen the wording for several warrant articles, which will be put
forth to the voters to solve this problem for the Olsons, for the Amherst School Board,
and the Board of Selectmen. Our boards are spending legal fees to continue this
discussion because for six years they refused to meet and debate this in open session.
They have stood firmly planted, with their feet rooted deeply into the ground, as they
have defended their strongly held positions against the Olsons. The Court ruled. Courts
are never wrong. The Olsons built on their property. Shame on them! We‟ll fix them!
We‟ll make them move that new barn and that swimming pool!
Imagine in your mind’s eye the next step, if we did not try to fix this by voting.
Can’t you just see our zoning administrator leading the way as the Department of
Public Works guys show up to tear down the barn, cheered on by our selectmen and
the Amherst School Board members? I can just see it now: They could ask the
middle school band to play while they try to correct the IRREPARABLE HARM,
for which there was no adequate remedy at law, done to them by the Olsons by
bulldozing the barn and the swimming pool! We’ll move that swimming pool 1 ½
feet and we’ll move that barn the 20 or 30 feet it needed to be moved! OH MY
GOD. What has this town come to?
Well, there is an adequate remedy at law and you, the voter, are that remedy.
These are the warrant articles as they will appear on the ballot:
The Town of Amherst Warrant Article is Article 28: (Dropping of Olson Fines and
Fees – By Petition) To see if the Town will vote that all fines and fees and interest
penalties, including attorney fees imposed on the Olson‟s for any violations, brought
against the Olson‟s by the Town of Amherst on matters relating to a long-standing
dispute between the Olson‟s and the Amherst School District be dropped without
prejudice with the result of no monies having to be paid by the Olson‟s to either the
Town of Amherst, NH or the Amherst School Board or Amherst School district.
The Ways and Means Committee for the Town of Amherst supported this article 5-
The Amherst School District Warrant has 4 separate articles. So that you will not
be confused as you go to the polls, I will attempt to explain them, as they will appear
on the ballot.
Article 35: To see if the Amherst School District will authorize the Amherst School
Board to execute any and all documents necessary to carry out a lot line change with
Dennis and Kathleen Olson relative to district owned land (Map6, Lot 96), and in so
doing to transfer to the Olsons the minimum amount of land necessary to have their barn
sited on their own property within the zoning setback requirements of the Town so that
said barn need not be relocated, said amount of land believed to be approximately 1/10
acre more or less, in return for the payment to the district of not less than $5,000. The
Amherst School Board unanimously recommends support of Article 35. The Ways
and means Committee is unanimously in favor of this article. Majority vote
required to pass.
Commentary: This article was put forth by the school board in their attempt to
resolve this issue.
Article 37: That a lot line change between the Olson‟s property and the Amherst School
Districts property be granted so that the Olson‟s will not have to move their barn and
pool. This would not impact the access for the School District‟s property. The Amherst
School Board unanimously opposes Article 37. The Ways & Means Committee
unanimously opposes this article. Majority vote required passing.
Commentary: Dennis Olson submitted this article fearing he would not meet the
deadline for warrant articles. It was replaced by article 38. However, at the
deliberative session the wording was changed to mirror the school board article 35.
Unfortunately, the school board will not take a position to support this article, even
though it has the same intent as their own article. Their position seems to be that it
mentions the pool, which they feel is an issue to be dealt with by the town. Rather
than say that in principal they support this, they are stil voting against the help they
could be giving.
Article 38: In order to settle a long-standing dispute, that a lot line change between the
Olson‟s property and the Amherst School District‟s property on Baboosic lake Road be
granted so that the Olson‟s will not have to move their existing barn, shed and in-ground
pool. This would not impact the access and egress for the School District to their
property. The Olson‟s will pay to the Amherst School District a consideration of $1.00
for one (1) acre +/-. The Amherst School Board unanimously opposes Article 38.
The Ways and Means Committee unanimously opposes this article. Majority vote
required to pass.
Commentary: This article was put forth by Dennis Olson and citizen petition. This
article would give the Olson family 1 acre (more or less) which is more than the 1/10
of an acre proposed by the school board. It would grant the access across the
property awarded to the school board by the court, and although many of us believe
that the courts showed serious errors in both their thoughtfulness and their
judgment in this case, the Olson as law abiding citizens will accept their fate. This
one acre (more or less), would simply give them a little more privacy, in case the
school could ever come up with sufficient justification to run 800 cars a day and
heaven only knows how many busses, past their house. THIS article must be
amended at the deliberative session. Bill Drescher, attorney for the school board
stated that “be granted” should be changed to “to grant”.
We will be asking the deliberative session to reword this article to say:
“To see whether the district will vote to authorize the school board to grant a lot line
change between the Olson’s property and the Amherst School District’s property so
that the Olson’s will not have to move their barn and pool. This would not impact the
access for the School District’s property. The Olson’s will pay to the Amherst School
District a consideration of $1.00 for one (1) acre +/-.
At the deliberative session, this article was amended to mirror article 35, however
the school board does not support it. They just will not put forth a total effort to
rectify this issue.
SO THIS IS THE WAY IT IS DONE HERE. No voter can put forth a petition
warrant article and have it go to the citizens for a vote. There is no way for Dennis
Olson and his family to let the voter decide what is right or wrong. That was taken
away from him by those at the deliberative session who decided that you, the voter,
should not have the opportunity to comment other than in a way the school board
felt appropriate. The school board wants the Olson family to have 1/10 of an acre
and for that the cost is $5000.00.
Article 39. To see if the voters of Amherst will vote to approve:
1. The mandate of the sale of any and all parcels of land that the Amherst School
District owns on Baboosic Lake Road by public auction to the highest bidder,
with the proceeds of said sale being returned to the residents of Amherst as
required by the relevant laws of the State. Said land parcels which must be sold
include, but may not be limited to any and all parcels the Amherst School District
owns in the immediate vicinity of 11 Baboosic Road, which as of 12/12/2005
according to the Town of Amherst‟s Abutters List, included the legal parcels
identified as Map 6, Lot 96; Map 6, Lot 116; and Map 6, Lot 119. The rest of this
was all the logistics of the sale.
The Amherst School Board unanimously opposes Article 39. The Ways and Means
Committee unanimously opposes this article. Majority vote required to pass.
At the deliberative session, this article was amended to read “To see if the voters will
permit the Amherst School Board to study selling, upon receipt of final studies
which determine the suitability of said site for future school development, any and
all parcels of land owned by the Amherst School District on Baboosic Lake Road, as
they see fit, for the benefit of the Amherst School District.
We should not be surprised that the School Board and the Ways and Means Committee
were opposed to this article, nor that they amended it. Dennis Olson has a wonderful
video of this property, which will be made available for sale for a small fee to cover the
costs. In that video, there is some really wonderful footage of Test Pit 14, dug by Steve
Desmarais. Test Pit 14 is now a POND! Maybe it is time to sell the land, pay back the
taxpayer money, and re-think a process, which was deeply flawed from its very onset.
How does this stuff go on in our town? Where are we as citizens? Why are we not
participating in the discourse of our town government?
The person harmed by this has been Dennis Olson. This legal process has interfered with
his right to prosper. Not having the earning capacity to fork over the big bucks for
continued lawsuits against the Town of Amherst, he tried to represent himself. He had no
money to go to the Supreme Court. He forfeited that right, which must be exercised in a
timely manner. Think about it like this: If you had to spend hundreds and hundreds of
hours of your time on various lawsuits, if you had to prepare for court over and over and
over, would you be able to take proper care of your family? What we teach our youth, is
to own up to their mistakes. The school board did not own up to anything. They
purchased the land with an abutter screaming that there was a cloud on the title. They
ignored him repeatedly and successfully used legal means to drive him away.
And finally, quoting from the Constitution of the Sate of New Hampshire: “If
government does not provide for and protect the whole community and does not
improve when shown its errors, the people must either reform the old or establish a
new government. Not changing the government when it is oppressive is slavish or
just plainly ridiculous. Every person in this State has the right to equal protection
and prompt justice without having to purchase such justice.” Think about that, the
next time some of these people run for re-election.
Dennis Olson should do a TV show. We could call it: Dennis, the Amherst Menace. He
could attend all the meetings and give us his view of what goes on in them. He could
bring to the attention of regular people the good ideas and the bad ideas that happen in
town. What happened to him should never happen in this town again. Dennis Olson
feels it is his obligation and his duty to stand up for his rights, in light of what he and
many of us believe to be a grave injustice. What kind of example would Dennis be for
his three sons had he not taken the time to right what he considered a serious wrong to
him and his family. Our forefathers did not stand alone. We citizens, I believe, are going
to stand with the Olsons and do what is right. We, the citizens get to decide. We have
the ability to right a wrong done to the Olsons by the courts, by the selectmen and by the
The Amherst School Board chose to ignore real conflicts regarding the purchase and sale
of this property. The Amherst School Board represents the taxpayers of Amherst also.
Many taxpayers do not feel that the School Board exercised common sense in the
purchase of this land.
So many older citizens have commented on the unfair way this family has been treated.
Senator Peter Bragdon sent a letter to the Olsons about his family, who have been here
for many years. The letter follows:
“Thank you for contacting me with respect to the ongoing property dispute with the
school district. As I mentioned to you in our phone conversation, I do not have direct
personal knowledge of the matter. However, as a member of a family with deep roots in
Amherst I do know members of my family felt the land in question was never meant to be
taken from the parcel you now own and the intent was only to provide access for the area
behind you. My father felt very strongly about that based on his 78 years living in
Amherst and knowing just about anything that went on with construction projects in
Vote yes on any warrant article mentioned above and the Olsons will have the justice
they deserve. The voters now have the ability to request that the selectmen reconsider
the fines, fees and penalties and the judgment, and that a simple lot line change be
executed to end this debacle once and for all. The Olsons have suffered enough for the
last six years.
I invite you to join me to try to make right a wrong. We, as citizens, deserve the last
word on this issue.