Jun 13, 2015 12:49 PM

NH Supreme Court rules against Henniker man using farm for events


CONCORD - The state Supreme Court has ruled against a man who's been using his farm to host weddings, meetings and other gatherings over the objection of local zoning officials.

In a 4-1 ruling, the court rejected Christmas tree farmer Stephen Forster’s claim that his event business should be allowed because the use is included in the state’s definition of agriculture, known as agritourism, the Concord Monitor reports.

Forster owns 110 acres on the south side of town, about 10 of which he uses for the tree farm. He says he has been hosting events there for years, but neighbors claim they have increased in size and frequency. Since 2012, the town and a superior court judge have ordered him to stop, saying the events have no direct link to the farming operation.

Forster's lawyer, Robert Miller, argued earlier this year that lawmakers have been working to make it easier for struggling farms to find alternate revenue streams, specifically through agritourism.

Both sides agreed that agritourism must have a clear connection to the farm itself, such as a corn maze or a farmstand. The town, however, insisted that the event business had no clear link.

The town’s attorney, Barton Mayer, said the state’s intent had been for municipalities to decide what is allowed on their agricultural lands.

Miller said they planned to ask the court to reconsider the decision, and, if denied, to press legislators to amend the law.


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