By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — A cigarette-smoking condo owner on Beacon Street West has prevailed over a board of directors who wanted to renovate her apartment to stop the second-hand smoke from entering other apartments.
Sue Ann Merrill and the Beacon Street WEst Condominium Unit Owners Association agreed to a compromise but not before a Belknap County Superior Court judge had to issue an injunction to stop the renovation and then mediate the case.
Merrill lives in a condo on the first floor of the Beacon Street West Condominiums. She confines her smoking to the bathroom so as not to adversely affect the health of a person who lives with her.
According to the court pleadings, the cigarette smoke exits her bathroom through a bathroom vent and rises into the apartments just above hers. Over time, Beacon determined that when she smoked within her unit in the bathroom, which is allowed in the bylaws, is "a harmful or offensive use" and contrary to the bylaws.
Beacon determined that the only way to fix the problem was to have Merrill's smoke rerouted through her dryer vent that goes directly outside. Merrill objected to this because the dryer is her dryer and not part of the common area. She said if her housemate's clothes become inundated with smoke, his physician said it could be detrimental to his health.
Despite this, Beacon sent a notice to her that they would be entering her condo on June 1 to make the repair without her permission, so she filed an emergency request with the court to stop them from doing this.
She said that Beacon's attempt to "classify only (her) exercise of a permitted act in her own unit and no one else's within the association, as harmful, is a breach of (the) covenant" she signed when she purchased her condo.
In his order granting the emergency injunction, Judge James O'Neill wrote that her request rises to the level of an emergency because her "rights will be violated, and significant harm will come to her property, specifically her unit."
He also ordered a mediation before a hearing date was scheduled.
During the mediation, the two parties agreed that the bathroom vent will be redirected into a separate pipe that runs parallel to the dryer vent and the association will cap off the existing bathroom vent.
Within 48 hours of the signed agreement, she will allow Beacon's contractors access to her home for inspection by contractors with plans and a material lists.
Beacon agrees that it will connect the exhaust vent and the dryer vent at the exterior wall of Water Street and that during construction the contractor will seal off the rest of the unit and provide a dust barrier during construction.
The association agreed to provide a letter to Merrill that states the smoking vent won't flow back into the dryer vent and that all of the work will be completed by June 17.
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