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Bar Journal - September 1, 2002

How Can a Religious Camp Maintain its Property Tax Exemption Under East Coast Conf. of the Evangelical Covenant Church of America, Inc. v. Town of Swanzey?

By:
How Can a Religious Camp Maintain its
 

"Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."1 

I. INTRODUCTION: EAST COAST CONFERENCE OF THE EVANGELICAL COVENANT CHURCH OF AMERICA, INC. V. TOWN OF SWANZEY.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court recently held in East Coast Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church of America, Inc. v. Town of Swanzey that Pilgrim Pines, a religious camp, could not maintain its charitable property tax exemption.2  Although the holding was narrow, its effect is that religious camps could lose property tax exemptions,3  if not properly advised. In December 2001, the court narrowed the original holding, which declared the camp uncharitable, and thus placed at risk religious camps' property tax exemptions.4  Even after the court narrowed the holding, the East Coast decision still contributes to the confusion surrounding RSA 72:23, the statute controlling charitable property tax exemptions, because it contradicted precedent.

The East Coast Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church of America, Inc. (Church) operates a Christian retreat complex in Swanzey,5  in the southwest corner of New Hampshire. The entire complex, called the Mayflower complex, consists of two camps: Camp Squanto, a youth camp and Pilgrim Pines, a family camp.6  Because the Cheshire County Superior Court held that the Church could maintain its property tax exemption for Camp Squanto, that camp's status was not at issue before the New Hampshire Supreme Court.7  Both the trial court and the New Hampshire Supreme Court denied the Church a property tax exemption for Pilgrim Pines.8  The New Hampshire Supreme Court decision could adversely affect whether other religious camps in New Hampshire can maintain their property tax exemptions because the court misapplied the term "public" under RSA 72:23-l.9  East Coast is also detrimental to religious camps' property tax exemptions because the decision suggests that the court rejects that religious practice includes recreation.10  Implications of this belief could be far reaching.

This article considers these implications. First, this article discusses the requirements under RSA 72:23 to obtain property tax exemptions. Next, this article describes Pilgrim Pines and how the Church's case arrived before the New Hampshire Supreme Court. Then, this article reviews both the original and revised East Coast opinions. In addition, this article discusses the East Coast holding and compares it with the court's previous decisions. Further, this article discusses two instances where Christian camps, which were almost identical to Pilgrim Pines, maintained property tax exemptions. Finally, this article suggests how other New Hampshire religious camps may be affected by East Coast and identifies strategies to qualify as a charitable organization under RSA 72:23-l and therefore to receive a charitable property tax exemption under RSA 72:23 (V).

II. RSA 72:23: PERSONS AND PROPERTY LIABLE TO TAXATION

New Hampshire has provided a property tax exemption for charitable and religious organizations since the early 1900s.11  The current version of RSA 72:23 still provides religious and charitable organizations tax exemptions.12  The purpose behind the property tax exemption is to "foster 'beneficial and stabilizing influences in community life'" that religion and charity provide.13  Religious organizations can claim their property tax exemptions under RSA 72:23 (III)14  and, similarly, charitable organizations under RSA 72:23 (V).15  Charitable organizations must meet the requirements of RSA 72:23-l, which defines charitable organizations. Religious organizations, however, do not have to abide by a particular definition section under RSA 72:23.

Under the narrow language of RSA 72:23 (III), religious organizations are entitled to property tax exemptions when the property is "used and directly occupied for religious training or other religious purposes . . . ."16  Religious organizations are always charitable, but fit into the narrower RSA 72:23 (III) language when they only operate a house of worship, as opposed to religious camps that operate houses of worship as well as other amenities such as residences, dining halls, and conference centers. Religious camps cannot qualify under RSA 72:23 (III) when not all of the property is directly used and occupied for religious purposes.17  Rather, it may be used for recreational activities, yet the camp's operation and property use may still be charitable.18 

A charitable organization, defined under RSA 72:23-l, must be established and obligated by its charter to perform some public good, including spiritual advancement, without pecuniary benefits to its members or officers.19  The dictionary used by the New Hampshire Supreme Court defines religious20  and spiritual21  both as relating to religious matters. Just as the dictionary is not instructive as to the difference between the two, neither is the current law.

Under the current common law, a religious camp has two routes to obtain a property tax exemption. First, a religious camp can apply for a hybrid RSA 72:23 (III) and RSA 72:23 (V) property tax exemption, although hybrid exemptions are not often successful in the courts.22  The court has previously rejected hybrid exemptions, however, some organizations still maintain such an exemption.23  Second, a religious camp can apply for a property tax exemption either under RSA 72:23 (III) or RSA 72:23 (V).24  In its amicus brief in support of the Church, the New Hampshire Council of Churches revealed its discovery that all Roman Catholic organizations in New Hampshire receive property tax exemptions under RSA 72:23 (V).25  In contrast, other religious organizations receive property tax exemptions sometimes under RSA 72:23 (V), but more often under RSA 72:23 (III).26 

In its amicus brief in support of the Church, the New Hampshire Council of Churches argued that categorizing religious camps as anything other than religious is artificial and strained, as "the forced distinction between religious and nonreligious portions of the property does not make sense."27  The confusion and attempt to pigeonhole a religious camp into either a religious entity or a charitable entity seems to stem from the hybrid nature of a religious camp. A camp is recreational in nature, yet when mixed with religious programming, is a camp more religious than recreational? This question plagued the East Coast court, which might have been distracted from the religious practices at Pilgrim Pines by the resort-like facilities.28 

III. BACKGROUND: PILGRIM PINES CAMP

Pilgrim Pines occupies valuable lake front property in Swanzey, New Hampshire and offers many amenities to those using its facilities.29  Camp patrons stay in condominium-style units, cabins, or the campground, which has 100 recreational vehicle sites with bathhouses and water, electrical, and sewer hook-ups for many of the sites.30  Pilgrim Pines occupies one hundred and fifteen acres31  with undeveloped land and a nine-hole golf course on a lake.32  The camp is open year round and has religious programs attended by guests on a voluntary basis.33  The property is reserved primarily for members of Covenant Churches, but Pilgrim Pines hosts other religious and non-religious groups, including firefighters and school groups.34  Guests must abide by camp rules35  restricting alcohol use and smoking, and encouraging mutual respect and quiet hours.

The Church maintained a charitable property tax exemption under RSA 72:23 (V) until 1999 when the Town of Swanzey challenged the Church's property tax exemptions for the years 1996-99 in Cheshire County Superior Court.36  In 1986, the Town of Swanzey granted the Church a complete 72:23 (V) charitable property tax exemption for Pilgrim Pines in exchange for modest payments from the Church as an alternative to taxes.37  These payments were not mandatory and continued exemption did not depend on these payments.38  The Church encountered economic adversity in the early 1990s and was unable to maintain payments to the Town.39  The Town continued the 72:23 (V) charitable property tax exemption until 1996 when the Town challenged the Church's exemption in Cheshire County Superior Court.40  Before the controversy arose in the trial court, the Town held a hearing with the selectmen to evaluate the Church's charitable exemption.41  The Town determined that the chapel, preschool, kitchen, administrative facilities, bathhouse, barn, workshop, and meeting hall were exempt but that the Church was responsible for taxes on the remainder of the property.42  The Church then had the choice, as the property owner, to challenge the Town's assessment through the Board of Tax and Land Appeals or Cheshire County Superior Court.43  The Church chose to challenge the assessment in superior court because, in the past, religious camps have fared well in the court.44  The trial court denied the Church a property tax exemption for Pilgrim Pines for certain portions of the property.45  The Church appealed the trial court's ruling.46 

The issue on appeal was whether the Church, in its operation of Pilgrim Pines, qualified as a charitable organization under 72:23-l to receive a property tax exemption under 72:23 (V).47  The court recognized a religious property tax exemption under RSA 72:23 (III) for the chapel, preschool, kitchen, administrative facilities, bathhouse, barn, workshop, and meeting hall.48  Its attempts, however, to maintain an RSA 72:23 (V) charitable property tax exemption for the entire property proved fruitless before the New Hampshire Supreme Court.49 

Pilgrim Pines' luxurious facilities possibly distracted the East Coast court, in both the original and revised opinion.50  The court seemed to not only struggle with the law, but also with its perception of Pilgrim Pines as a recreational camp rather than religious camp.

IV. HOLDING: THE CHURCH CANNOT MAINTAIN ITS CHARITABLE PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION

In both its original and revised opinions, the court denied the Church a property tax exemption for the Pilgrim Pines camp.51  In the original opinion, the court held that "where an organization makes an effort to target its benefits to its members only, it is not obligated to serve a substantial and indefinite segment of the public and is not charitable."52  Before the opinion was officially published, the court narrowed the original holding and held in the revised opinion that "upon our review of the factual record . . . the Church failed to prove that the beneficiaries of Pilgrim Pines were a substantial and indefinite segment of the general public for the tax years at issue."53  Whereas the court based the original holding on the fact that the Church actively took steps to limit its guests to members, the revised opinion indicates that the Church did nothing active, but Pilgrim Pines beneficiaries just happened to be members.

The original holding incorrectly failed to recognize that the Church advertises to non-members, and actually serves the public.54  The Church does actively advertise over the Internet through its website, which is open to anyone who wishes to access it.55  By availing itself to others through Internet advertising, the Church's operation of Pilgrim Pines did not serve only its members, as it opened its doors to other organizations.56 

Though the court still denied the Church a property tax exemption for Pilgrim Pines, the revised holding reflects changes that the Church urged the court to make.57  In its motion for reconsideration, the Church revealed several factual inaccuracies in the original opinion that the court omitted from the revised holding: that the Church in no way targets only its members; that the purpose of Pilgrim Pines consists of its constitution, by-laws, vision and mission statement and identifies its charitable purpose; that the Church does not require assent to any doctrine to stay at Pilgrim Pines; and that the Church does open its doors to non-members.58  Yet, the revised holding is still inconsistent with precedent and could put religious camps' property tax exemptions in danger.59  As reflected in the holding, the court misapplied the term "public," under RSA 72:23-l, adding to the confusion surrounding RSA 72:23-l. Courts interpreting RSA 72:23-l in the future have little guidance on how to interpret and apply the term "public."

V. ANALYSIS: CHARITABLE PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTIONS

In evaluating whether to grant property tax exemptions, the court has used the following criteria to determine if an organization is charitable under RSA 72:23-l: (1) that the purpose of the organization as stated in its by-laws, charter, and other foundational documents is charitable and legally obligates it to perform that purpose; (2) that actual public service is performed, commonly referred to as the public character requirement; and (3) that no pecuniary interest is conferred upon the members or officers of the organization.60  The criteria are analyzed in the above order.61  The last factor is usually not at issue, and the court rarely finds that the organization does not have a charitable purpose.62  The public character requirement comprises the most controversy and confusion in the courts.63 

A. Stated Charitable Purpose: The first requirement for a property tax exemption

For an organization to be considered charitable under RSA 72:23-l,64  the organization not only must have a charitable purpose, but also the stated purpose must legally obligate it to perform a public service where the Attorney General or some other public officer can enforce that purpose.65  The court usually finds that an organization's goals are charitable and that the charter commits the organization to carry out those goals.66  The court will not find that an organization's purpose is charitable, however, if the stated purpose is broad, indefinite, and private in nature.67  Since an organization must obligate itself through its charter or other foundational documents to fulfill its purpose, the court will halt its analysis if an organization's purpose does not demonstrate this obligation.68 

Society of Cincinnati v. Exeter69  is the only known case where the court rejected an organization's purpose as non-charitable.70  The organization's purpose in that case was "to foster patriotism."71  The organization's charter did not obligate it to use its facilities to perform its purpose.72  Its charter indicated that individuals other than members were not invited to join the organization unless they were of a specific ancestry.73  This purpose, the court determined, was not charitable because of its private nature.74 

The stated purpose in Society of Cincinnati confined the benefits of the organization to members of the organization and the charter indicated no responsibility to perform its goals.75  Therefore, the organization was unable to benefit members of the public, except in the abstract, by fostering patriotism.76  The organization's purpose, to foster patriotism, failed because its beneficiaries were unspecified and indefinite.77  The court, therefore, determined that the charter was private and could be enacted by its members for its members at their own choosing and benefiting only themselves, not the public.78  Since the purpose of charitable organizations is to benefit the public, the Society of Cincinnati court was unable to uphold such an indefinite, private and confined purpose, even though the goals of the organization were noble.79 

Pilgrim Pines' foundational documents articulate its charitable goals and specify how they will be accomplished. Pilgrim Pines' foundational documents include its mission statement, constitution and by-laws, and articles of agreement. The articles of agreement identify five goals that the Church intends to promote and each goal advances the spiritual well being of the public, as required by 72:23-l. The five goals articulated in the articles of agreement are:

(1) to promote religious, charitable, and educational activities among members of the youth and adult groups; (2) to conduct Bible studies and religious training for youth and adults; (3) to hold religious retreats for ministers; (4) to engage in supervised recreational activities; (5) to hold, manage, control, convey and dispose of real and personal property.80 

Further, the articles of agreement state that the Church will promote "religious, charitable and educational activities [which] will be accomplished through religious conferences and evangelistic meetings, Bible studies . . . [and] recreational activities."81 

The purpose, from the mission statement, constitution and by-laws, and articles of agreement, indicates that Pilgrim Pines is public, as distinguished from the purpose in Society of Cincinnati, and specifies that church members will benefit as well as those from other non-profit organizations.82  The people that will benefit from the operation of Pilgrim Pines are not particularly specified, which would bar a property tax exemption, but members, non-profit organizations, and ministers, as an indefinite segment of the public are specified as beneficiaries. Accordingly, the court upheld Pilgrim Pines' purpose as charitable and correctly recognized that Pilgrim Pines obligated itself to perform its stated purpose so that the Attorney General can enforce that purpose.83 

The idea that the Attorney General should enforce the purpose of such an organization originates from the Attorney General's responsibility to enforce charitable trusts.84  Private charitable trusts differ from public charitable corporations in that an action against a charitable corporation can be maintained against the corporation, whereas an action against a charitable trust must be maintained through the trustees.85  Despite this difference, the New Hampshire Supreme Court still maintains that the test for public obligation under RSA 72:23-l is whether the Attorney General could enforce the charitable organization's purpose.86  While Attorney General enforcement was not at issue in East Coast, the New Hampshire Council of Churches' amicus brief in support of the Church argued that this test is inappropriate as applied to religious camps.87  Enforcing a religious organization's purpose-worshipping God, performing worship services, giving alms-is improper because of the government's obligation to remove itself from probing religious practices.88  While the legal obligation of the Church through its operation of Pilgrim Pines was an issue in the original holding, the revised holding turned on the public character requirement.

B. The Public Character Requirement

The public character requirement ensures that the property at issue is being used to further the organization's charitable purpose.89  The burden of proof is on the taxpayer organization to show that its property is used consistently with its purpose.90  The public character requirement is the criterion that separates public organizations from private organizations.91  The court analyzes whether the organization made its property available to non-members and whether the use by non-members was consistent with the owner-organization's stated purpose.92  The East Coast court hinged its revised holding on the public character requirement.93 

The public character requirement generates confusion through use of the term "public."94  Since the legislative purpose behind the property tax exemption is to encourage charitable organizations' development, interpretation of the term "public" should reflect that purpose.95  The interpretation of the term "public," as it is used in RSA 72:23-l, is unclear.96  "Public" could mean residents of the world, New Hampshire residents, or residents of a certain community.

In Sisters of Mercy v. Hooksett,97  the court interpreted the term "public" broadly as including residents of the adjacent Catholic school, residents of the monastery, and other visitors.98  The court acknowledged that mostly Catholics used the property in question, but because the property was open to others and not restricted to just Catholics, the property was considered sufficiently public.99 

In holding that the Church failed to show that most beneficiaries were a "substantial and indefinite segment of the general public,"100  the East Coast court took a far narrower reading of the term "public" than in previous decisions.101  In the summer, forty percent non-members and sixty percent members use Pilgrim Pines.102  "Public" should not be interpreted to require that a certain percentage of the beneficiaries, or users, be non-members, but rather that the organization offered its property for use by non-members.103  The analysis, under precedent, is whether the Church made Pilgrim Pines available to non-members.104  Thus, whether the property was actually used by non-members is irrelevant. The forty percent non-members that actually used Pilgrim Pines is evidence that the Church opened its facilities to the public and the holding should have been that the Church was sufficiently public based on this evidence.105  The East Coast holding reduced the meaning of the term "public" to a head count, where the Church must count the users of the property at a certain time to ensure that more than half are non-members to keep its property tax exemption.

Further, under the public character requirement, the court scrutinizes whether visitors used the property in a manner consistent with the purpose of the organization. Where property use furthers the articulated purpose and is reasonably necessary to carry out the charitable purpose, the court has consistently granted charitable property tax exemptions.106  Conversely, where the activities on the property were secular in nature, or did not further the articulated charitable purpose, the court has consistently denied a charitable tax exemption for that property.107  Residences on the property do not bar a charitable property tax exemption if occupancy of those residences is necessary to carry out the charitable purpose.108  Additionally, rental units of the property do not preclude a charitable property tax exemption.109  The analysis hinges on whether the property is "used and occupied directly for the charitable purpose, or simply an adjunct to the charitable purposes."110 

Pilgrim Pines is not open to groups looking for a country weekend, but rather, only those groups who wish to use the property in such a way that is in accordance with its purpose. The Church informs guests that they are expected to attend the Christian programs while at Pilgrim Pines.111  It may seem that if the Church allowed private, non-affiliated individuals access to Pilgrim Pines, then the camp is serving more of the public. Under this reading, the Church is running a hotel rather than a Christian retreat center with specific Christian programs. The court has previously denied an organization a charitable property tax exemption where private individuals used the facilities for their own secular purposes.112  An organization can illustrate that it meets the public character requirement through the organization's efforts to make the property available to non-members, actual facility use by non-members in furtherance of the organization's purpose, and possibly through an organization's website.

Website: Possible evidence of public character

Maintenance of a website indicates that the Church made Pilgrim Pines available to the public to satisfy the public character requirement. 113  In deciding if the Church satisfied the public character requirement, the court ignored Pilgrim Pines' website. Nowhere in the website does the Church state that the guests must be members of the Church. Rather, anyone is invited to stay on the property and participate in the activities and programs advertised.

The Church, however, did not meet its legal obligation to serve its purpose through the website because it highlighted the recreational activities rather than its Christian programs.114  Pilgrim Pines' location and facilities are not uncommon for a Christian retreat center in New Hampshire. Pilgrim Pines, however, unlike the other Christian camps in New Hampshire, lists the recreational activities as a key selling point on their website and advertising.115  The Pilgrim Pines camp website opens with the Church's vision, mission, core values, and its religious affiliation.116  Under the services and facilities link, the Church boasts the recreational activities at the camp and the available accommodations.117  Other Christian camp websites do not separately list the recreational activities, but have photo galleries that capture recreational activities, and do not expressly list them as an attraction.118  Also, other Christian camp websites list their Christian programs as the attraction and main selling point of the camp rather than their amenities.119 

Camp Spofford, another Christian-based retreat center, lists its accommodations and programs on a website, but not the recreational activities that a guest may participate in.120  Another Christian camp, Camp Berea, does not list the recreational activities available at the camp, but offers a photo gallery that shows guests engaging in the activities available at the camp.121 

Since the Church expects guests to attend the Christian programs at Pilgrim Pines, the recreational activities at Pilgrim Pines are probably not the primary reason that guests choose Pilgrim Pines. The overwhelming message from the website, however, is that guests will participate in exceptional recreational activities.122  The message portrayed by the other camps' websites is that the Christian programs are exceptional.123  The challenge for a religious camp when seeking a property tax exemption is to present the camp as an overtly religious entity, rather than a recreational camp through its website, as evidence of the camp's public character and evidence that the camp met its legal obligation to carry out its purpose.

C. Camp Squanto and Camp Spofford: Trial court decisions

The Cheshire County Superior Court incorrectly denied the Church a property tax exemption for Pilgrim Pines because it failed to follow its own analysis from Camp Spofford and Camp Squanto.124  Camp Spofford is owned by the Evangelical Free Church and is located in Spofford, in New Hampshire's southwest corner, on lake front property.125  The Evangelical Free Church operates both a family camp and a youth camp at Camp Spofford.126  The Cheshire County Superior Court granted the Church a charitable property tax exemption under RSA 72:23 (V) for Camp Spofford.127  The court noted that the camp qualified as a charitable organization and its stated purpose declared the camp as charitable.128  Also, the court recognized that the overall purpose of the program was to improve human values and to balance the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of a camper's life.129  Through its charter, the Evangelical Free Church obligated itself to perform its charitable purpose.130  The court did not focus on Camp Spofford's facilities or the recreational activities available at the camp, even though Camp Spofford is located on a lake in the southwest corner of New Hampshire.131 

Further, the trial court also properly recognized that the camp made itself available to non-members, satisfying the public character requirement.132  The trial court found evidence of the camp's public character where seventy-five percent of campers were members while twenty-five percent were non-members.133  The trial court clarified that the organization's benefits cannot be confined to its members, yet it can create programs oriented to members of the Evangelical Free Church.134  Because the Evangelical Free Church made itself available to others, and others used the camp to participate in the Christian programs, the Evangelical Free Church met the public character requirement.135 

In the same way, the Cheshire County Superior Court held that Camp Squanto was entitled to a charitable property tax exemption because the camp obligated itself to perform its charitable purpose contained in its mission statement,136  and the property was made available to groups other than members of the Church for its charitable purpose.137  The court observed that the recreation areas on the Camp Squanto property were entitled to a tax exemption because those areas were "directly related to the charitable mission of the camp."138  The court recognized that the Church's operation of Camp Squanto was charitable and beneficial to the community.139 

Pilgrim Pines, adjacent to Camp Squanto and approximately ten miles from Camp Spofford,140  does not operate differently, and its purpose and goals do not stray from those of Camp Squanto or Camp Spofford's.141  Pilgrim Pines, like the other camps, obligated itself to perform its charitable purpose and made its facilities available to members as well as non-members for that purpose.142  Pilgrim Pines' facilities are similar to Camp Spofford. In fact, Camp Spofford even advertises on its website that some cabins are "hotel-type units."143  Camp Squanto, while owned and operated by the same church as Pilgrim Pines, is situated on lake front property, but cannot be used for recreational purposes.144  Also, Camp Squanto is exclusively a youth camp, yet its campers also use the Pilgrim Pines' property.145  It seems that if a camp contains youth programs, then the court may be more likely to grant a property tax exemption, as Pilgrim Pines only differs from Camp Spofford and Camp Squanto in that Pilgrim Pines operates only a family camp. Perhaps the court may act more favorably upon youth camps because youth camps align with a traditional, dictionary definition of charitable, which defines charitable in part as serving youths. These trial court decisions, however, should serve only as guides to representing a camp before the New Hampshire Supreme Court, as these ideas have not been explicitly endorsed or rejected by the court.

VI. CONCLUSION: CONSIDERATIONS IN REPRESENTING A RELIGIOUS CAMP

Even though East Coast contributes to the confusion surrounding RSA 72:23, religious camps can still probably maintain property tax exemptions by establishing themselves and their operation as a charitable organization under 72:23-l by following certain guidelines apparently set out by the court.

The purpose of the religious camp, identified in its foundational documents, should create definite goals that the organization will accomplish. Also, the purpose should state how these goals will be accomplished and who will benefit from these goals.146  The purpose should not identify anyone in particular147  or identify a group whose membership is based on ancestry or involuntary traits.148  Further, the facilities must be used for the organization's charitable purpose rather than by private individuals for their own secular purposes.149 

A camp can satisfy the public character requirement by guaranteeing that non-members can use its facilities.150  If non-members use the facilities, then this is usually sufficient to find that the organization meets the public character requirement.151  The camp's officers or members should not receive pecuniary benefits; however, this is rarely an issue.

RSA 72:23-l does not indicate other requirements that a camp must satisfy to show that it is a charitable organization. Because confusion surrounds the statute, a religious camp may be more successful if it demonstrates the statutory elements with non-traditional evidence, such as a website. In addition, this non-traditional evidence should represent the camp as more religious than recreational to satisfy the public character requirement. For example, the court may look more favorably upon a camp that illustrates that it is available to the public through its website, while at the same time substantiates the camp's claim that a camp is a religious operation. Also, emphasize that the camp serves mostly youths, if it does so, as youth camps may support a traditional definition of charitable, giving the court both a statutory and traditional representation of a charitable organization. The challenge for a religious camp is to meet the statutory requirements and bolster those elements with other evidence to create a complete image of the camp as religious, rather than recreational.

ENDNOTES

1. Matthew 22:21 (New Intl.) (Matthew's account of Jesus' instruction to pay taxes).
2. E. Coast Conf. of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Am., Inc. v. Town of Swanzey, ___ N.H. ___, 786 A.2d 88, 91 (2001).
3. See id. at 91.
4. E. Coast Conf. of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Am., Inc. v. Town of Swanzey, 2001 WL 838886 (N.H. July 26, 2001), withdrawn.
5. Id. at 90.
6. Id.
7. Id. at 89.
8. Id.
9. Under N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. 72:23-l (2001) charitable is defined as:
[a] corporation, society, or other organization established and administered for the purpose of performing and obligated, by its charter or otherwise, to perform some service of public good or welfare advancing the spiritual, physical, intellectual, social, or economic well-being of the general public or a substantial and indefinite segment of the general public that includes residents of the state of New Hampshire, with no pecuniary profit or benefit to its officers or members, or any restrictions which confine its benefits or services to such officers or members or those of any related organization.
10. See E. Coast Conf. of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Am., Inc. v. Town of Swanzey, 786 A.2d 88, at 89-91 (N.H. 2001) (stating the religious programs held at Pilgrim Pines for both members and non-members, but failing to hold that Pilgrim Pines was entitled to a charitable property tax exemption).
11. 1905 N.H. Laws 432, c. 40 1 (exempting property used for charitable, educational, or religious societies), modified, 1907 Laws 66, c. 68 1 (amending 1905 law to exempt property used for charitable, educational, or religious societies when such a society is bound by the terms of the will . . . to devote such property solely to such uses . . .); Carter v. Whitcomb, 74 N.H. 482 (1908) (applying the 1907 version of the charitable property tax exemption and discussing both the 1905 and 1907 versions).
12. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. 72:23 (2001).
13. Appeal of Emissaries of Divine Light, 140 N.H. 552, 558 (1995) (quoting Waltz v. Tax Comm., 1397 U.S. 664, 674 (1970)).
14. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. 72:23 (III) (2001) provides an exemption for:
[h]ouses of public worship, parish houses, church parsonages occupied by their pastors, convents, monasteries, buildings and the lands appertaining to them owned, used, and occupied directly for religious training or for other religious purposes . . . used by them for the purposes for which they are established.
15. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. 72:23 (V) (2001) provides an exemption for:
[t]he buildings, land, and personal property of charitable organizations and societies . . . owned, used and occupied by them for the purposes which they are established, provided that none of the income or profits thereof is used for any other purpose than the purpose for which they are established.
16. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. 72:23 (III).
17. See Alton Bay Meeting Camp Assn. v. Town of Alton, 109 N.H. 44, 48-49 (1968).
18. See Christian Camps & Confs., Inc. v. Town of Alton, 118 N.H. 351, 352-355 (1978) (holding that property used for recreational purposes also qualified for a charitable tax exemption).
19. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. 72:23- I (2001); See Appeal of City of Franklin, 137 N.H. 622, 624 (1993) (applying the requirements set forth in RSA 72:23-l).
20. Webster's Third New Int'ernational. Dictionary 1918, 2198 (unabridged ed. 1961) (used by the New Hampshire Supreme Court as of April 8, 2002).
21. Id. at 1918, 2198 (defining religious as "of or relating to religion" and spiritual as "of or relating to religion or sacred matters")
22. See Alton Bay Camp Meeting Assn., 109 N.H. at 48 (exempting some of the property under RSA 72:23 (V) (charitable) and some of the property under RSA 72:23 (III) (religious)).
23. Compare Appeal of C.H.R.I.S.T., 122 N.H. 982, 983-984 (1982) (holding that an organization cannot claim a hybrid exemption) with Alton Bay Camp Meeting Assn., 109 N.H. at 49-51 (granting a hybrid exemption).
24. See e.g., Christian Camps & Confs., Inc., 118 N.H. at 354 (1978) (discussing property solely for charitable purposes); Franciscan Fathers v. Town of Pittsfield, 97 N.H. 396, 401 (1952) (discussing property solely for religious purposes).
25. Amicus Brief for the New Hampshire Council of Churches at 5, E. Coast Conf. of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Am., Inc. v. Town of Swanzey, ___ N.H. ___, 786 A.2d 88 (N.H. 2001).
26. Id.
27. Amicus Brief for the New Hampshire Council of Churches at 12, E. Coast Conf. of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Am., Inc. v. Town of Swanzey, ___ N.H. ___, 786 A.2d 88 (N.H. 2001).
28. E. Coast, 786 A.2d at 89, 90, 92.
29. See id. at 89.
30. Id.
31. Br. of Pl. at 11, E. Coast Conf. of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Am., Inc. v. Town of Swanzey, ___ N.H. ___, 786 A.2d 88 (N.H. 2001).
32. E. Coast, 786 A.2d at 89.
33. Id. at 89-90.
34. Id. at 90.
35. Id.
36. Pilgrim Pines Camp <http://www.pilgrimpines.org> (reporting on March 14, 2002 that the Church owes the Town of Swanzey $355,000 including interest for 1996-1999 as a result of East Coast).
37. Email from Richard Couser, Counsel for The East Coast Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church, Orr & Reno, to Martha Woods (April 4, 2002).
38. Id.
39. Id.
40. Id.
41. Id.
42. Id.
43. Id.
44. Id.
45. Id.
46. Id.
47. Id.
48. E. Coast, 786 A.2d at 90.
49. Id.
50. E. Coast, 786 A.2d at 89 (discussing at length Pilgrim Pines' amenities).
51. E. Coast Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Am., Inc. v. Town of Swanzey, 2001 WL 838886 (N.H. July 26, 2001), withdrawn, E. Coast, 786 A.2d at 91.
52. E. Coast, 2001 WL 838886 (N.H. July 26, 2001), withdrawn.
53. E. Coast, 786 A.2d at 91.
54. E. Coast, 2001 WL 838886 (N.H. July 26, 2001), withdrawn.
55. Pilgrim Pines Camp <http://www.pilgrimpines.org> (accessed March 31, 2002).
56. Pl.'s Notice of Appeal at 22-23, E. Coast Conf. of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Am., Inc. v. Town of Swanzey, ___ N.H. ___, 786 A.2d 88 (N.H. 2001).
57. E. Coast, 786 A.2d at 91 (omitting erroneous facts from the revised opinion).
58. Pl.'s Mot. for Reconsideration at 6-7, East Coast Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church of America, Inc. v. Town of Swanzey, 786 A.2d 88 (N.H. 2001).
59. See e.g., Sisters of Mercy, 93 N.H. at 309 (discussing that the test for public character can mean that an organization makes its property available to others) (interpreting R.L. c. 73 7 (1934)).
60. See Appeal of City of Franklin, 137 N.H. 622, 624 (1993).
61. Id.
62. See e.g., id.
63. See e.g., Sisters of Mercy v. Town of Hooksett, 93 N.H. 301, 309 (1945) (recognizing the confusion surrounding the term "public").
64. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. 72:23-l.
65. Appeal of City of Franklin, 137 N.H. at 624.
66. E.g. Appeal of City of Franklin, 137 N.H. 622,id. at 624 (1993).
67. E.g. Society. of Cincinnati v. Exeter, 92 N.H. 348, 355 (1943) (interpreting R.L. c. 73 24 (1941)).
68. Id. at 357.
69. Society. of Cincinnati, 92 N.H. 348 (1943).
70. Id. at 357.
71. Id. at 352.
72. Id.
73. Id. at 356.
74. Id. at 357.
75. Id. at 352.
76. Id. at 356.
77. Id.
78. Id. at 352-353, 357.
79. Id. at 357.
80. Br. of Pl. at 20, E. Coast Conf. of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Am., Inc. v. Town of Swanzey, ___ N.H. ___, 786 A.2d 88 (2001).
81. Id.
82. Socy. of Cincinnati, 92 N.H. at 353 (noting that private trusts name a specific and particular beneficiary as opposed to public trusts that must name an indefinite segment of the public).
83. See E. Coast, 786 A.2d at 91 (articulating the test for the obligation requirement and proceeding to state the Pilgrim Pines failed under the public character requirement).
84. Restatement (Second) of Trusts, 391 (2001).
85. Restatement (Second) of Trusts, 348.
86. See e.g. Appeal of City of Franklin, 137 N.H. at 625 (citing Nat. Conservancy v. Nelson, 107 N.H. 316, 317 (1966)).
87. Amicus Brief for the New Hampshire Council of Churches at 25, E. Coast Conf. of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Am., Inc. v. Town of Swanzey, ___N.H. ___, 786 A.2d 88 (N.H. 2001).
88. See Amicus Brief for the New Hampshire Council of Churches at 25, E. Coast Conf. of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Am., Inc. v. Town of Swanzey, ___ N.H. ___, 786 A.2d 88 (N.H. 2001).
89. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. 72:23 (V) (requiring that the property be used to further charitable purposes).
90. E. Coast, 786 A.2d at 91.
91. Id. (quoting Sisters of Mercy v. Hooksett, 93 N.H. 301at 309 (1945)).
92. Alton Bay, 109 N.H. at 45-46.
93. E. Coast, 786 A.2d at 91.
94. See Sisters of Mercy, 93 N.H. at 309 (discussing the confusion created by the term "public").
95. See E. Coast, 786 A.2d at 91.
96. Webster's Third New Internationa'l Dictionary 1836 (unabridged ed. 1961) (defining public in two separate entries, each with five possible definitions) (used by the New Hampshire Supreme Court as of April 9, 2002).
97. Sisters of Mercy v. Town of Hooksett, 93 N.H. 301 (1945).
98. Id. at 309.
99. Id.
100. E. Coast, 786 A.2d at 91.
101. See e.g. Sisters of Mercy, 93 N.H. at 309.
102. E. Coast, 786 A.2d at 90.
103. Sisters of Mercy, 93 N.H. at 309; Carter, 74 N.H. at 487.
104. See Sisters of Mercy, 93 N.H. at 309; Carter, 74 N.H. at 487.
105. E. Coast, 786 A.2d at 90 (recognizing that forty percent of campers at Pilgrim Pines were non-members but declining to recognize that Pilgrim Pines was open to the public).<, /FONT>
106. E.g. Housing Partnership, 141 N.H. at 243.
107. See e.g. Alton Bay Camp Meeting Assn., 109 N.H. at 48.
108. E.g. St. Paul's School v. City of Concord, 117 N.H. 243, 250-255 (1977) (holding that faculty apartments, student dormitories, and the rectory were exempt, yet property occupied by other staff members, alumni, parents, and guests was not reasonably necessary to fulfill the school's charitable purpose).
109. Appeal of Kiwanis Club of Hudson, 140 N.H. at 94; contra Housing Partnership, 141 N.H. at 243 (holding that rental property was not reasonably necessary to carry out charitable mission).
110. Housing Partnership, 141 N.H. at 243.
111. E. Coast, 786 A.2d at 90.
112. Alton Bay Camp Meeting Assn., 109 N.H. at 48.
113. Pilgrim Pines Camp <http://www.pilgrimpines.org> (accessed March 31, 2002).
114. Pilgrim Pines Camp <http://www.pilgrimpines.org> (accessed March 31, 2002).
115. <http://www.cci.gospelcom.net> (accessed March 31, 2002) (offering a searchable database of Christian camps in New Hampshire, including:
Camp Berea <http:// www.berea.org> (accessed March 31, 2002); Rumney Bible Conference <http:// www.rumneybible.org> (accessed March 31, 2002); Camp Spofford <http://www.campspofford.org> (accessed March 31, 2002); Singing Hills Christian Conference Center <http://www.singinghills.net> (accessed March 31, 2002); Brookwoods/Deer Run <http://www.brookwoods.org> (accessed March 31, 2002); Alton Bay Christian Conference Center <http:// www.abccc.org> (accessed March 31, 2002).
116. Pilgrim Pines Camp <http://www.pilgrimpines.org> (accessed March 31, 2002).
117. Pilgrim Pines Camp <http://www.pilgrimpines.org/services.htm> (accessed March 31, 2002) (advertising basketball, fishing, golfing, sledding, canoeing, hockey, and swimming. (listing the accommodations available: condominium-style units, cabins on the lake, and camping facilities).
118. See e.g., Camp Spofford <http://www.campspofford.org> (accessed March 31, 2002).
119. Id.
120. Id.
121. Camp Berea <http://www.berea.org> (accessed March 31, 2002).
122. Pilgrim Pines Camp <http://www.pilgrimpines.org> (accessed March 31, 2002).
123. See e.g., Camp Spofford <http://www.campspofford.org> (accessed March 31, 2002).
124. Camp Spofford of the E. Dist. Assn., Evangelical Free Church of Am. v. Town of Chesterfield, 86-E-026, 86-E-111 (Cheshire County Superior Court July 23, 1987); The East E. Coast Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church of America, Inc. v. Town of Swanzey, 97-E-081 (Cheshire County Super. Ct. April 30, 1999).
125. Camp Spofford of the E. Dist. Assn., Evangelical Free Church of Am. v. Town of Chesterfield, 86-E-026, 86-E-111, slip op. at 1 (Cheshire County Super. Ct. July 23, 1987).
126. Id.
127. Id. at 9.
128. Id. at 7.
129. Id.
130. Id. at 8.
131. Id. at 1-11.
132. Id.
133. Id. at 5.
134. Id. at 9.
135. Id. at 7-9.
136. The E. Coast Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Am., Inc. v. Town of Swanzey, 97-E-081, slip op. at 6 (Cheshire County Super. Ct. April 30, 1999) (stating Camp Squanto's mission statement is to help young people "improve their spiritual life, build their character, train them in Christian citizenship and give them recreational opportunities that are fun and good for their physical health").
137. The E. Coast Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Am., Inc. v. Town of Swanzey, 97-E-081, slip op. at 8 (Cheshire County Super. Ct. April 30, 1999).
138. Id. at 353 (relying entirely on Christian Camps and Confs. v. Town of Alton where recreation areas received a charitable exemption).
139. See id. at 355.
140. Yahoo Driving Directions <http://maps.yahoo.com/ > (accessed April 4, 2002) (stating the approximate distance between the two camps is ten miles).
141. Camp Spofford of the East. Dist. Assn., Evangelical Free Church of Am. v. Town of Chesterfield, 86-E-026, 86-E-111, slip op. at 7 (Cheshire County Super. Ct. July 23, 1987); The E. Coast Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Am., Inc. v. Town of Swanzey, 97-E-081, slip op. at 6 (Cheshire County Super. Ct. April 30, 1999).
142. Br. of Pl. at 20, E. Coast Conf. of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Am., Inc. v. Town of Swanzey, ___ N.H. ___, 786 A.2d 88 (N.H. 2001) (stating the purpose and Pilgrim Pines' obligation).
143. Camp Spofford <http://www.campspofford.org/info/rates.htm > (accessed March 31, 2002).
144. Br. of Pl. at 8, E. Coast Conf. of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Am., Inc. v. Town of Swanzey, ___ N.H. ___, 786 A.2d 88 (N.H. 2001).
145. Id.
146. See Nat. Conservancy of N.H. v. Town of Nelson, 107 N.H. 316, 319-320 (1966) (holding that the purpose to conserve natural resources, promote education, and encourage research of nature conservation was sufficiently definite to establish charitable status).
147. See Socy. of Cincinnati, 92 N.H. at 353 (noting that private trusts name a specific and particular beneficiary as opposed to public trusts that must name an indefinite segment of the public).
148. See Socy. of Cincinnati, 92 N.H. at 353. (distinguishing between organizations whose membership is only open to those who meet stringent membership requirements and those whose membership is open to the public; the former is not eligible for a charitable property tax exemption).
149. See Alton Bay Camp Meeting Assn., 109 N.H. at 49 (holding that charitable exemption is appropriate only for that property that is used directly for charitable purposes).
150. See Sisters of Mercy, 93 N.H. at 309 (discussing that the test for public character is whether an organization makes its property available to others).
151. Contra E. Coast, 786 A.2d at 91.

The Author

Martha Woods, Class of 2003, Franklin Pierce Law Center, Concord, New Hampshire.

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