Argued April 11, 2013.
Upton & Hatfield, LLP, of Concord ( Barton L. Mayer on the brief and orally), for the petitioner.
D'Amante, Couser, Pellerin, & Associates, P.A., of Concord ( Bruce J. Marshall on the brief and orally), for the respondents.
BASSETT, J. DALIANIS, C.J., and HICKS, CONBOY and LYNN, JJ., concurred.
[165 N.H. 237] Bassett, J.
The respondents, Steven and Philomena Landrigan, appeal an order of the Superior Court ( McNamara, J.) finding that they unlawfully subdivided their property and granting the request of the petitioner, the Town of Newbury (Town), for injunctive relief and the imposition of a $2,000 fine. See RSA 674:35 (2008) (amended 2012); RSA 676:15 (2008); RSA 676:16 (2008). The respondents argue that the trial court erred in finding that their conduct and that of their predecessors had merged two non-conforming parcels into a single lot. We affirm.
The trial court found, or the record supports, the following facts. In 1935, the Town deeded two contiguous lots, known as lot 3 and lot 4, to a private party (the original owner). Thereafter, the Town
also deeded to the original owner four small " cottage lots" adjacent to lots 3 and 4.
In 1961, the original owner recorded a plan depicting lots 3, 4 and the cottage lots. The plan identifies boundary lines separating the " cottage lots" ; however, it does not show an internal boundary line between lots 3 and 4. In 1972, the original owner deeded the southern portion of lot 4 to an abutter. In 1973, the Town deeded to the original owner an adjacent triangular parcel of land. Around this time, the Town began assessing lot 3, the remaining portion of lot 4, the " cottage lots," and the triangular parcel of land as a single lot (the property).
Subsequently, the property was transferred by deed three times. Each deed contained an identical metes and bounds description that encompassed the remaining portion of lot 4, lot 3, the four " cottage lots," and the triangular parcel. The property description did not refer to any internal boundary lines. Each deed in the chain of title contained a " meaning and intending" clause that referred to the previous deed.
In 2004, the property was transferred by deed to the respondents. That deed contained the same metes and bounds description as the three prior deeds and a " meaning and intending" clause referring to the immediately preceding deed. At the time the respondents purchased the land, they understood that they were buying a single lot. Later that year, they applied for a building permit. In that application, they described setbacks ...