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AIDS Services for the Monadnock Region v. Town of Gilsum

Victory

Overview

Victory! GLAD Announced a settlement in this case on September 1, 2009. The settlement will enable ASMR to operate its group home for people with HIV without many of the onerous restrictions previously imposed by the town, including restrictions on people with criminal convictions or histories of substance abuse.

Background
GLAD filed suit September 24, 2008 in Keene Superior Court on behalf of AIDS Services for the Monadnock Region (ASMR), which operates a group home in Gilsum for people with HIV and Hepatitis C. The lawsuit asserts that the Town of Gilsum has illegally restricted the client population who can live in Cleve Jones Wellness House, where clients receive intensive support, services, and supervision.

After unsuccessful efforts to exclude Wellness House entirely, the town granted the home a zoning variance in 2005, allowing it to operate but forbidding the residence from housing people who 1) have been released from prison in the last 12 months; 2) have a history of drug or alcohol abuse and have not been substance-free for 12 months; or 3) have been convicted of a list of criminal offenses.

According to the lawsuit, the town has no legal authority to impose these conditions under New Hampshire’s state zoning laws, and its restrictions violate the guarantee of equal protection promised in New Hampshire’s constitution.

Update, 4/8/09: Cheshire Superior Court Justice Brian Tucker ruled against town’s movement to dismiss, granting the right for ASMR to present its case in court.