BARTLETT — In the wake of a recent judicial order, Bartlett businessman Ed Furlong and his family are facing eviction from his properties.
But that hasn’t deterred him from suing the town for $2 million in Carroll Carroll County Superior Court.
Furlong, who owned Lil’ Man Snowmobile Rentals Abenaki Inn & Cabin Rental at 1455 Route 302 in Bartlett, has battled the town and various town officials for over a dozen years over access he lost to trails in the White Mountain National Forest and a selectman’s alleged conflict of interest.
Furlong, now 61, sued in 2015, seeking to remove Selectmen’s Chair Gene Chandler from office. He claimed Chandler was involved in a conspiracy to undermine Furlong’s business.
At the time, Chandler’s attorney, Chris Hilson, told the judge that the only reason for the lawsuit was to nullify documents Chandler had signed in a zoning case Furlong lost that led to a large judgment.
In September 2015, the state Supreme Court ruled that Furlong owed the town of Bartlett $344,000 plus attorneys’ fees.
Last week, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Bruce Harwood issued an order on a motion by bankruptcy trustee Michael S. Askenaizer Trustee Law Offices of Nashua asking Furlong to turn over his property to the trustee, who controls the bankruptcy estate.
Furlong had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in August of 2016.
By March of last year, the court allowed for a real estate agent to sell and market his two Bartlett properties at 1455 and 1467 Route 302 and another property in Whitefield.
Furlong and his family live at the 1467 address, and the other Bartlett property has been used for storage of recreational vehicles. The Whitefield property contains a mobile home that was rented out.
But in his order dated July 3, Harwood said the trustee had “unsuccessfully attempted to accommodate” Furlong during the sales and marketing process so now it was time for Furlong to leave.
“The Trustee presented credible evidence and reasoning that the Debtor’s continued occupation of the 1455 Property and the 1467 Property for the living quarters and/or storage has impeded his ability to effectively market and sell the properties,” wrote Harwood.
“For these reasons, the Debtor is hereby ordered to turn over his keys, remove all personal property there from and vacate the 1455 Property and 1467 Property on or before Aug. 1, 2019.”
As for the Whitefield Property, the judge ordered Furlong to turn over any rents going back to Oct. 1, 2018, when he stopped making mortgage payments on the property, and also any income that comes in moving forward.
On Tuesday, Hilson — of Donahue, Tucker and Ciandella, which has offices around the state — explained that the trustee is obligated to “maximize the value of a bankrupted party’s assets” to benefit both the creditor and the debtor.
He said Furlong will receive some money back because there is a homestead exemption on one property. He said the town has a lien on all of Furlong’s known real estate in New Hampshire but is leaving some money for Furlong’s other creditors.
Hilson said the town of Bartlett was not involved in the turnover and the marketing of the property.
Furlong began renovations on his Bartlett property in fall of 2008 but was issued a cease-and-desist order by the town for failing to obtain a building permit — something Furlong insists he had sought but was denied.
Furlong completed the work without getting a permit, and the town responded by issuing a land-use citation and fining him $275 for the first day and $550 for every day the violation continued.
According to a second court order by Harwood, the town’s judgment against Furlong stands at nearly $397,000.
The Bartlett proprieties are each 3.2 acres of what Furlong calls “prime commercial real estate.” He lives there with his fiancee, Laura Bergeron, and her two sons, Kyle, 6, and Liam, 14.
Furlong believes he will remain in debt even after his properties sell.
“When I’m homeless, living in a tent, I will still have the debt crisis with the town,” said Furlong. “They might take the tent.”
Asked about tent, Hilson said, “This is the first I heard of any tent. I have no idea.”
In a July 8 text, Furlong said if he refuses to leave, the sheriff’s office would step in. But he believes he can get the judgment overturned because he says former selectmen Doug Garland had business interests that conflicted with Furlong’s Abenaki Inn & Cabin Rental and L’il Man Snowmobile Rentals.
Doug Garland’s wife, Vicki, is now a Bartlett selectman.
Over the past decade, Furlong has taken various legal actions in state and federal courts. He has written about them on a blog posted at bartlettcorruption.webs.com.
In his latest lawsuit, filed June 27 in Superior Court, Furlong argued that the land-use fine should be dissolved and sought $2 million in damages.
Furlong said he’s suing for $2 million because he feels that’s the most he can get from the town without bankrupting it.
“This case will fly like an eagle with great big talons, and it’s going to pick up the selectmen and drop them in the broads of Lake Winnipesaukee,” said Furlong.
In a recent interview, he expressed faith in Superior Court Judge Amy Ignatius as she is not part of the county’s “good ol’ boy network.”
But Doug Garland told the Sun on Monday that “based on my past experience, everything (Furlong) says is factually incorrect.”
Also reached Monday, Chandler simply said: “No comment on that one way or another. There’s nothing we can say.”
Furlong has until Aug. 11 to serve the paperwork on his lawsuit against the town and until Sept. 1 to file a return of service to the court. The town of Bartlett has 30 days from service to reply.
Hilson said he has seen Furlong’s most recent suit and assumes he will probably be involved with the case in some capacity. He said because this is still pending he couldn’t be as free to comment on it than past judgments.
But he did say: “The allegations contained in the most recent suit have been rejected by numerous different courts and numerous different judges.”