October 20, 2021
- Whether the trial court erred in denying the Town of Windham’s motion to dismiss the tax abatement appeal of the plaintiff, Shaw’s Supermarkets for lack of standing and in granting Shaw’s requested tax abatement?
The plaintiff, Shaw’s Supermarkets leased land from a property owner in Windham. The lease required Shaw’s to pay the property owner its pro rata share of the real estate taxes assessed on the entire parcel and the Owner was required to pay the taxes to the Town. If the owner received a tax abatement, Shaw’s was entitled to its pro rata share of the abatement. Shaw’s applied unsuccessfully for a tax abatement and thereafter applied to the Superior Court for a tax abatement. The Town moved to dismiss arguing that Shaw’s lacked standing to request a tax abatement for property it did not own, but the trial court denied the motion. The trial court granted Shaw’s requested tax abatement after a bench trial. The Court held that it was immaterial whether Shaw’s owned the property but instead focused on whether Shaw’s was aggrieved by the Town’s neglect or refusal to abate a tax in accordance with RSA 76:16 because it was responsible under its lease for paying the amount assessed. The Court also held that a reasonable person could have reached the same conclusion of the value as the trial court and therefore, upheld the decision to grant Shaw’s its requested tax abatement.
Alfano Law Office, of Concord (John F. Hayes on the brief) and Mark Murphy Law Offices, LLC, of Norwood, Massachusetts (Mark F. Murphy on the brief and orally) for the plaintiff. Beaumont & Campbell, of Salem (Bernard H. Campbell on the brief and orally) for the defendant.