LACONIA — A state legislator from Belmont has been ordered by a judge to vacate his residence until he complies with town building regulations.
Superior Court Judge James D. O’Neill III on Friday issued the ruling regarding three-term state Rep. Michael Sylvia, who the town alleges is illegally living in a recreation vehicle and converted garage on his property at 216 Farrarville Road.
The town claims that, for seven years, Sylvia has been living in a camper van-type recreational vehicle for which he has no appropriate town permit, and in a converted garage for which he has obtained no building permit to make the alterations. The town also says that there is no record of a working septic system on the property.
Efforts to reach Sylvia for comment on Monday were unsuccessful.
Sylvia, who is seeking re-election, is running for one of the two state House seats to represent Belknap County House District 6.
O’Neill rejected Sylvia’s motion to dismiss the case and granted the town’s request for a preliminary injunction prohibiting him from occupying the property until complies with local and state regulations. The judge gave Sylvia 30 days to apply for the necessary permits.
Contrary to Sylvia’s assertions in his motion, O’Neill said the Superior Court is a proper venue for the case, and further ruled that the town had given Sylvia sufficient notification of the allegations against him. Sylvia is acting as his own attorney in the matter.
O’Neill concluded that ordering Sylvia to vacate his property was called for because “it does not appear to the court that the defendant intends to correct the violations … (or) that he will seek the appropriate permits and cooperate with the town to rectify the current violations.”
The judge further ruled that if Sylvia fails to get the necessary permits in the next 30 days he will thereafter be fined $275 a day until he complies with the order.
The town’s attorney, Laura Spector-Morgan, said Monday the ball is now in Sylvia’s court.
“If he complies, that will be the end of things,” she said. “But if he does not, then I expect we’ll be back in court to get an enforcement of the judge’s order.”
The town first notified Sylvia of the alleged violations on his property in a letter sent in August 2017. During a hearing in Belknap Superior Court last month, Sylvia said the case against him was politically motivated.
It was not immediately clear what impact, if any, the judge’s ruling might have on the legitimacy of Sylvia’s candidacy for office. Calls to the state Secretary of State's office, which deals with election laws, were not immediately returned.
Minutes before last month’s court hearing, Sylvia told Spector-Morgan that he had leased another residence, but declined to tell her whether he had in fact moved. On Monday she said she had no new information about Sylvia’s place of residence.