Posted by: Patricia Salkin | January 24, 2017

ME Supreme Judicial Court Holds Board Misapplied Applicable Authority in Finding Plaintiff’s Renovation would Render the Parcel Noncompliant

Seabran, LLC, appealed from a judgment affirming a decision of the Town of Naples Board of Appeals. The Board denied 21 Seabran’s appeal from the Town of Naples Code Enforcement Officer’s denial of two permits necessary to renovate a garage on a lakefront parcel based on its conclusion that the parcel would have insufficient shore frontage to comply with state and local law. On appeal, 21 Seabran contended that the Board erroneously concluded that the proposed renovation of adding a kitchen would add to the parcel a second “residential dwelling unit,” as defined by the Town of Naples Shoreland Zoning Ordinance (SZO), and that the Board misapplied applicable state authority to reach its conclusion that the renovation would render the parcel noncompliant.

The Shoreland Zoning Ordinance defined a “residential dwelling unit” as: “a room or group of rooms designed and equipped exclusively for use as permanent, seasonal, or temporary living quarters for only one family at a time, and containing cooking, sleeping and toilet facilities.” However, in its determination that the proposed structure constituted a residential dwelling unit, the Board made no finding that the proposed structure contained cooking facilities. The court therefore concluded that the Board erred in its determination that the renovation was a residential dwelling unit for purposes of the SZO. Accordingly, the provision of the SZO requiring 200 feet of shore frontage for a residential dwelling unit did not apply to the proposed structure.

The SZO also provided that a lot must have at least 60,000 square feet of area and 200 feet of shore frontage per residential dwelling unit. However, the plain language of the State’s Minimum Lot Size Rule 1001.1.1 requires a parcel containing a single family residential unit to have a minimum of 100 feet of shore frontage. The court found that the reference in Rule 1001.1.1 that incorporates greater frontage requirements from a local ordinance clearly intended deference to local ordinance frontage requirements only to the extent that the ordinance establishes greater frontage requirements specifically in relation to gallons per day of wastewater generated. Because the SZO requirement that a residential dwelling unit have 200 feet of frontage was not based on gallons per day of wastewater generated, it was not incorporated into Rule 1001.1.1. 7. Thus, the court held that the Board’s conclusion that 21 Seabran’s parcel needed 200 feet of frontage for every 300 gallons per day of wastewater was erroneous.

21 Seabran, LLC v. Town of Naples, 2017 WL 57054 (ME 1/5/2017)

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