A group that planned to redevelop the 19th-century Rogers School has sued Fairhaven after town officials cancelled a July 2019 purchase and sale agreement to convey the property.

New England Preservation and Development, LLC, filed a civil lawsuit in Bristol Superior Court claiming two counts: breach of contract, and breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, The Standard Times has reported.

The relationship between Developer Zachary Mayo and the Fairhaven Board of Selectmen deteriorated for months before the deal was canceled in July.  Town lawyer Thomas Crotty said Mayo failed to submit the necessary financial documentation by a one-year deadline. Town Administrator Mark Rees told the board in June that the documents were not in hand.

Mary Serreze/Townsquare Media

The lawsuit claims the town began demanding information and documents not required under the agreement, failed to assist in the permitting process, and seemed intent on scuttling the deal, according to The Standard Times.

The town now intends to seal up and mothball the historic school property and plans to draft a new Request for Proposals to redevelop the structure.

Mary Serreze/Townsquare Media

The Rogers School was built in 1885 as a gift to Fairhaven from famed industrialist Henry Huttleston Rogers. The elementary school building closed its doors in 2013, and the building was surplussed. Mayo in 2019 proposed to build 14 condominiums in the main building, to tear down a 1950s-era school wing to make way for four single-family homes, and to renovate the adjacent Henry Rogers Memorial Park.

At the time, it was estimated that demolishing the building would cost 1.5 million.  Local officials have repeatedly said they would like to see the historic building preserved.

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