Over the past few decades, the government’s ability to seize personal property, thanks in large part to a decision by the Supreme Court, has been increasing. In fact, in a recent example, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has evicted chemo patient David Emery, from his land, where two generations of the family lived, as Foster’s has confirmed.
The Greenland resident on “Sunset Farm” has enjoyed his “bayside compound of homes and cottages” since he was born. Yet, due to a “life estate” wording and burdensome red tape, he is being forced to vacate the premises.
“So old David here is being thrown out with the bathwater,” said 79-year-old Emery of himself. “It just doesn’t seem kosher to me.”
The eviction notice wanted to boot the elderly man out by June, but his lawyer managed to get that extended to August 31.
It seems that “years of family fights about the bucolic compound” and the land near the Great Bay with its “circa 1916 family home” where five offspring were raised was getting out of hand. The home had belonged to Priscilla Emery Wykes, Mr. Emery’s sister, for the last two decades.
Portsmouth attorney Jack McGee has been representing David Emery for the last thirty years, including when the family agreed to sell the abodes to the Nature Conservatory. The “life estate” said that the home would remain in the family for as long as Ms. Wykes was alive.
Things get complicated when it is understood that Emery was given the role as caretaker by his sister, and thus, he has lived there. He has lived on the land “off and on” during his whole life and stated, “So I’ve been running the place for the past 20 years or more.”
That may be the case, but the New Hampshire Fish and Game bought the property from the Nature Conservatory, according to Senior Assistant Attorney General Christopher Aslin. He is representing the government agency and informed the media that million dollars were paid for the homes and land.
Making matters even more mired, some of the funds came from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The whole deal was made to prevent “overdevelopment of the land” and to stop the family squabbling, but on January 19, Pricilla Emery Wykes passed on.
Still, must the greedy hands of the state and agencies tied to them take this home from such an elderly man who has cancer? He is asking to stay, particularly during the time that he is undergoing nightmarish cancer treatments. “He was hoping Fish and Game would let him stay longer, maybe until he died,” said McGee.
The very people who care about the life of every fish, tree, and endangered whatever somehow have no compassion for a man who is as much a part of the land as the very soil itself. “They considered it, they said it’s not supposed to be residential, it’s supposed to be open, so unfortunately no. It’s clear they’re not going to give us more time,” the attorney added.
On April 4, the letters of eviction not only arrived for Emery, but also for the few tenants that he had/has. So, in essence, the system is aiming to take not only the sickened man’s home from him, but his livelihood, too.
He had until June 4, to vacate the premises.
“Morally?” he asked. “What can you say?” A soulless letter read that the new owners were “unable to accommodate Mr. Emery’s request and must request that he make preparations to vacate the property.” Clearly, the writer of the letter confused the word “unable” with the word”won’t.”
Making the same error again, they wrote that they are “not able to enter into a lease or other contract for the continued use of the property by Mr. Emery, or to allow continued private residential use of the property.”
“I’m extended until Sept. 1 but I still have to find an auctioneer and I’m right in the middle of chemo, feeling awful, but they don’t give a damn,” lamented Emery. “I’m the guy who put this whole damn deal together so it wouldn’t be developed on the bay.” Now, his love of the land may end up costing him it.
Those who own the land are so greedy that their letter even said, “the state is obligated to utilize the property for conservation purposes consistent with its inclusion in the Great Bay Estuarine Research Reserve.”
More court filings will likely happen, all dreadful headaches that a man enduring cancer treatments does not need. If nothing works, Emery has no idea where he and his 12-year-old dog, Crutch, will go. He is being told that he has “no legal status to the property.”
While that may be so, where is empathy in this whole discussion? At his age and in his frail health, even with a million dollar land in question, how long would they really have to wait even if he beats the cancer?
In Akron, Ohio, a majestic estate known as Stan Hywet Hall had a similar deal with the owner of that property and she lived to be over 100 years old. Granted, this deal is somewhat different due to the fact that the sister died, but the man living there is the one who put the deal in place. Also, in terms of a time frame, should he live, the two cases would be comparable.
Either way, when dealing with the government, it’s important to remember that compassion is always absent.