Articles Posted in Maine Supreme Court

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The Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection granted Janis Walsh and Paul Walsh a permit to construct a pier on their property. Thereafter, Marjorie Getz and David Tourangeau appealed the Commissioner’s order to the Board of Environmental Protection and filed a petition to revoke the Walshes’ permit. The Board summarily dismissed as untimely Getz and Tourangeau’s appeal, and the Commissioner dismissed Getz and Tourangeau’s petition to revoke the permit. Tourangeau and Getz petitioned for judicial review of the administrative decisions. The superior court dismissed the petitions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Board did not err in concluding that Getz and Tourangeau were not “abutters” entitled to notice of the Walshes’ permit application, and the superior court did not abuse its discretion in declining to apply a good cause exception to extend the time for appeal from the Commissioner’s decision granting the Walshes’ permit application; and (2) the superior court did not err in dismissing Tourangeau and Getz’s appeal from the Commissioner’s dismissal of their petition for revocation, as the Legislature has given the Commissioner sole discretion to decide whether to revoke permits. View "Getz v. Walsh" on Justia Law

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The Francis Small Heritage Trust, Inc. owned eleven parcels of land in the Town of Limington. The Trust requested tax abatement on its properties for the tax years 2009-2010, arguing that the properties should be granted tax-exempt status. The Town denied the Trust’s petitions. The State Board of Property Tax Review denied the Trust’s appeals, concluding that the Trust was not entitled to a tax exemption pursuant to 36 Me. Rev. Stat. 652(1)(A),(C) because its activities were “not restricted solely to benevolent and charitable purposes.” The superior court vacated the Board’s ruling, concluding that the Trust was entitled to a tax exemption as a benevolent and charitable institution. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, the Trust was entitled to a charitable exemption as a charitable and benevolent organization. View "Francis Small Heritage Trust, Inc. v. Town of Limington" on Justia Law

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Reva Merrill appealed a Superior Court judgment that affirmed the Board of Trustees for the Maine Public Employees Retirement System's decision to deny her request for a waiver of past-due life insurance premiums. Merrill contended on appeal that the Board erred in interpreting 5 M.R.S. 17103(6)(2008) to prohibit it from waiving past-due payments for the non-mandatory Group Life Insurance Program, and that the Board's administrative procedures violated her right to due process. Because the Supreme Court agreed with Merrill that the Board had the authority to waive back premiums, the Court vacated the Board's decision and remanded the case for the Board to decide finally whether to waive Merrill's required payments. View "Merrill v. Maine Public Employees Retirement System" on Justia Law

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In 2011, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued an order approving water quality certification (WQC) under the Clean Water Act for the continued operation of the Eel Weir Hydropower Project. The project includes Eel Weir Bypass, a stretch of water that connects Sebago Lake to the Presumpscot River. Douglas Watts, a recreational user of Sebago Lake and the Presumpscot River, appealed the WQC to the Maine Board of Environmental Protection (BEP). The BEP affirmed the DEP’s order. The Business and Consumer Docket affirmed. The Supreme Court also affirmed, holding that the BEP did not err in approving the WQC and in finding that the WQC complies with Maine’s water quality standards governing the Eel Weir Bypass and Sebago Lake. View "Watts v. Bd. of Envtl. Prot." on Justia Law

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Glen Harrington pleaded guilty in 2012 to eluding an officer and admitted to violating the conditions of his probation. Harrington was sentenced to forty-eight months’ imprisonment. The Department of Corrections subsequently determined that Harrington was eligible to receive seven days per month of good-time credits and that Harrington would be eligible to receive an additional two days per month for participation in transition-plan programs. Harrington appealed this determination, arguing that he was entitled, for the entire duration of his sentence, to the two days per month for participation in transition-plan programs. The post-conviction court summarily dismissed the petition on the basis that calculations of good time credits are not reviewable in post-conviction proceedings. Harrington appealed, arguing that his petition did not challenge a “calculation” of the credits but instead challenged the Department’s policy of making the credit available to only to inmates at a certain point in their sentences. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the post-conviction court did not err in construing the Department’s decision as a calculation of good-time credits and dismissing Harrington’s petition. View "Harrington v. State" on Justia Law

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Pike Industries operated a quarry in the City of Westbrook. Smiling Hill Farm owned property and operated businesses near Pike’s quarry. After the City concluded that Pike did not have a grandfathered right to quarry and attempted to rezone the property and end Pike’s quarrying operations, Pike filed a complaint seeking to enjoin the City from enforcing its zoning ordinances. The City and Pike subsequently entered into a consent decree that allowed Pike to continue its quarrying operations subject and established a set of governing performance standards. Smiling Hill appealed. In Pike I, the Supreme Court remanded the case with instructions for the parties to formalize the performance standards. The parties then entered into a second consent decree. Smiling Hill appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the decree conformed to the requirements laid out in Pike I; and (2) the decree did not result in a forfeiture of the City’s enforcement power or an illegal contract zone. View "Pike Indus., Inc. v. City of Westbrook" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff’s employment as a corrections officer at the county jail was terminated as a result of an incident with an inmate. Although Plaintiff was reinstated to his position at the jail, the Board of Trustees of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy suspended Plaintiff’s corrections-officer certificate for one year, finding that Plaintiff recklessly caused bodily injury or offensive physical contact to an inmate and that this conduct constituted a gross deviation from the standard of conduct. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Board did not abuse its discretion in issuing a one-year suspension in this case. View "Stein v. Me. Criminal Justice Academy" on Justia Law

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The Securities Administrator of the Office of Securities revoked the securities licenses of North Atlantic Securities, LLC, a licensed broker-dealer, Michael J. Dell’Olio & Associates, a licensed investment adviser, and Michael Dell’Olio. Dell’Olio was an investment advisor representative of Michael J. Dell’Olio, an agent of North Atlantic, and an owner exercising control in both firms. The revocations resulted from transactions through which Dell’Olio, his son, and the two entities under Dell’Olio’s control received over $200,000 in loans from Dell’Olio’s mother-in-law, most of which were not repaid. The business and consumer docket affirmed the revocation of Appellants’ securities licenses. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the charges arising from transactions that occurred in 2006 were not time-barred; (2) the administrative record supported the Administrator’s factual findings; (3) the Administrator’s decision was not affected by structural or actual bias; and (4) despite the severity of the penalty imposed, the Administrator did not abuse her discretion in revoking the licenses. View "N. Atlantic Secs., LLC v. Office of Secs." on Justia Law

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After the City of Portland entered into negotiations to sell a portion of Congress Square Park (Park), an urban park in the City’s ownership, Friends of Congress Square Park (Friends) filed a citizens’ initiative to amend the City’s land bank ordinance, which would (1) create a new category of land bank property and designate certain parcels, including the Park, as belonging in that category; and (2) require approval of eight of nine City Council members to dispose of property in the land bank. The City declined to issue petition forms pursuant to the procedure set forth in section 9-36 of the City Code because, inter alia, the proposed amendments did not affect any legislative matters. The City Council subsequently approved the sale of a portion of the Park. On judicial review, the superior court concluded that the petition was a proper subject of a citizens’ initiative and entered a permanent injunction requiring the City to issue the petition forms. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the amendments proposed by Friends were within the scope of the citizens’ initiative power pursuant to section 9-36(a) of the City Code. View "Friends of Congress Square Park v. City of Portland" on Justia Law

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In 2010, the assessor for the Town of Scarborough valued Plaintiff’s property for the tax year 2010-11 at the same assessed value as set in 2005. Plaintiff subsequently filed an application for a tax abatement, which the assessor denied. Thereafter, Plaintiff filed an application for assessment review with Scarborough’s Board of Assessment Review, arguing that the Town’s assessor substantially overvalued his property. After a hearing, the Board denied Plaintiff’s appeal, concluding that Plaintiff did not meet his burden of showing that the property was substantially overvalued relative to its market value. The Supreme Court vacated the Board’s determination and remanded for a reevaluation of Plaintiff’s property, holding that, in this case, the evidence established that the property was substantially overvalued. View "Terfloth v. Town of Scarborough" on Justia Law