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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Judge rules against city developers

NASHUA – A judge has ruled against the Tamposi brothers in a dispute over whether delays in the Broad Street Parkway amounted to a taking of their land along Fairmount Street, court records show.

In a ruling released Tuesday, former Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Robert Lynn (now Supreme Court justice) found that the city of Nashua doesn’t owe Stephen and Samuel Tamposi, Jr., anything.

Companies controlled by the two Tamposi brothers bought a 27-acre lot off Fairmount Street in 1980, Lynn’s order states. The family initially paid $135,000 for the land, and has since invested well over $100,000 to prepare the property for sale or development at various times, the judge wrote.

The two brothers filed suit against the city in 2009, however, claiming that the various and seemingly never-ending delays in the parkway project amounted to an “inverse condemnation” of their land, preventing them from selling or doing anything profitable with it.

The idea of the Broad Street Parkway was first floated in the 1970s and was included in the city’s Master Plan in 1985.

That same year, the city also approved the Tamposis’ request to rezone their land, to allow multifamily housing on the property. As part of that plan, an 80-foot right-of-way was drawn up along the northern border of the lot, to accommodate the anticipated road construction.

The city completed an environmental impact study and got Federal Highway Administration approval for the Broad Street Parkway in 1997.

“However, over the years,” Lynn wrote, “various issues arose that resulted in a series of changes to the design and delayed actual implementation of the project.”

For instance, what was once envisioned as a four-lane highway was pared down to a two-lane road connecting Broad Street and West Hollis Street.

The various delays and uncertainty made it impossible to sell or develop the land along Fairmount Street, the Tamposis argued, and resulted in the loss of a potential $4 million sale to Baybridge Building and Remodeling, Inc., in 2004.

Lynn heard evidence and arguments on the case over three days in October and issued his ruling Jan. 24, court records show. Ironically, just days before the trial, the state Department of Transportation notified the Tamposis that the state wanted to negotiate to buy the property, as required prior to condemnation or eminent domain proceedings.

Lynn agreed to hear the Tamposis’ claims anyway, over the city’s objection. In the end, however, Lynn found that the delays and “continuing uncertainty regarding the Broad Street Parkway” did not amount to a taking of the property.

Delays and changes are normal for a project of that scope, Lynn wrote, and there was “no credible evidence of bad faith or unreasonable actions on the part of the City.”

Current plans for the parkway call for construction to begin this spring, and the cost is estimated at $67 million, of which the city will pay (and borrow, by bond) $37.6 million.

Andrew Wolfe can be reached at 594-6410 or