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Stablex Corp. v. Hooksett, Town of

ELR Citation: 13 ELR 20451
Nos. No. 82-220, 456 A.2d 94/18 ERC 1671/122 N.H. 1091, (N.H., 12/28/1982)

The New Hampshire Supreme Court rules that the state has preempted the field of hazardous waste disposal regulation.The court invalidates a town ordinance requiring siting approval by popular referendum and a town planning board's denial of plaintiff's hazardous waste site permit application. The court rules that the zoning and regulatory powers delegated to municipalities by the state never expressly extended to hazardous wastes. It holds that the comprehensive and detailed program of statewide regulation of hazardous wastes on its face preempts contrary local actions. The court rejects defendants' claims that the state legislation either expressly reserves or acknowledges home rule powers over hazardous waste disposal siting. Although the statute establishes municipal review committees that cannot preempt local zoning boards, the statute does not limit the powers of the state Bureau of Solid Waste Management to site disposal facilities. Further, the advisory power that the legislation gives to municipal review committees is limited and in no way constrains the bureau's authority to make final siting decisions.Nor does the municipalities' authority to collect fees from hazardous waste disposal facilities grant them exclusionary powers. The authority is merely an incentive for localities to accept state siting decisions. The preemptive nature of the state legislation permits local zoning and planning actions only to the extent that they do not have an exclusionary effect on hazardous waste disposal facilities.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Joseph A. Millimet, Kevin C. Devine
Devine, Millimet, Stahl & Branch
P.O. Box 719, Manchester NH 03105
(603) 669-1000

Counsel for Defendants
David W. Hess
Brown & Nixon
80 Merrimack St., Manchester NY 03101
(603) 669-8080

Counsel for Amici Curiae
Williiam E. Brennan, Robert R. Ruddock
New England Legal Foundation
110 Tremont St., Boston MA 02108
(617) 482-1410

Gregory H. Smith, Attorney General; E. Tupper Kinder Jr., Robert P. Cheney Jr.
208 State House Annex, Concord NH 03301
(603) 271-3658

King, C.J., did not sit; the others concurred.