LACONIA — State Rep. Michael Sylvia claims in court filings that the town he represents has questioned his honesty.
Last August, the town of Belmont filed a civil suit against the Republican lawmaker alleging land use violations at his 216 Farrarville Road property.
Sylvia, who chairs the Belknap County legislative delegation, is asking a judge to dismiss the case, award him legal costs and order that “an apology be made to the defendant for calling into question his honesty.”
A hearing is Wednesday in Belknap County Superior Court at 9 a.m.
The town took Sylvia to court alleging that the three-term legislator had been living in a van-style recreational vehicle and or a garage on the property and lacked the needed permits. The suit also claimed that there was no record of a working septic system on the property that Sylvia acquired after the original home on the site was destroyed in a fire.
On Oct. 19, a judge issued a preliminary injunction against Sylvia requiring him to “cease the illegal occupancy of the garage and recreational vehicle immediately, or apply for the required permits within 30 days.”
On Nov. 15, Sylvia who is representing himself without a lawyer, filed a notice of compliance notifying the judge that he had rented an apartment in Belmont, was not occupying the garage or RV at 216 Farrarville Road and asking that the town’s case against him be dismissed.
In her objection, Attorney Laura Spector-Morgan, who represents the town wrote that the “veracity of (Sylvia’s) pleading is questionable, given that the defendant continues to represent that his mailing address is at 216 Farrarville Road.”
In response, Sylvia asserts that in the town’s objection he is “all but called a liar,” and wrote that if the town has the facts providing the “lack of veracity” in his pleadings, that the plaintiff should be required to present them.
Even if Sylvia has vacated the property, Spector-Morgan said, she would object to the dismissal of the complaint without the issuance of a court order prohibiting Sylvia from reoccupying it in any manner, until he obtains the required permits for the RV, the conversion of the garage or creation of some other living space, as well as for the septic system.
As a lawsuit was necessary to obtain compliance with the town’s zoning ordinance, Spector-Morgan asserts that the municipality is entitled to an award of attorney’s fees incurred to date, and is further seeking an award of civil penalties of $275 per day since Aug. 16, 2017, that the violations continued to exist, totaling approximately $125,125.
In his own court filings, Sylvia claims that the town has “unnecessarily and vexatiously extended this dispute,” noting he advised Spector-Morgan before the Sept. 26 hearing that he had acquired an apartment, and she chose to continue the suit.
“The plaintiff’s actions make clear their desire for the court to put in place a ‘no trespass’ order against the defendant. This would amount to an unjustified taking and should cause alarm among the citizens of Belmont,” Sylvia wrote.
The parties are now scheduled to participate in alternative dispute resolution with a neutral mediator by May 1, to try and come to an agreement averting a trial. If those efforts are unsuccessful, a one-day bench trial in which evidence will be heard by a judge, not a jury, is scheduled for June 24.before