Posts tagged #Land Use

Maine High Court to Litigious Saco RV Park Owner: Let There Be Frisbee Golf

To the delight of Frisbee golfers across southern Maine, the Maine Supreme Court has affirmed the Saco Planning Board’s approval of a Frisbee golf course in Fitanides v. City of Saco.  

Fred Fitanides, who owns an RV park that abuts the Frisbee golf course, opposed the development and claimed, among other things, that the Saco Zoning Board of Appeals was biased against him because, when Fitanides appealed the planning board permit to the ZBA, the Saco city planner sent an email to the ZBA stating that “[Fitanides] has demonstrated numerous times in the past that litigation is little more than a hobby of his” and urging the ZBA not to “compound the injury inflicted on the applicant by [Fitanides] by dragging this unfounded appeal on any longer.”  Fitanides has been suing his neighbors and the City of Saco over land use issues for decades, often pro se. 

The Court stated that the city planner’s email to the ZBA was “unprofessional” and “wholly inappropriate,” and noted that “Fitanides has the right to vigorously protect his property interests and in fact has often been successful in his appeals, including his appeals to this court.” However, because the city planner was not the decision maker in the matter and there was no evidence of bias among the ZBA members, the Court held that Fitanides’ due process rights had not been violated.          

Posted on March 24, 2015 .

High Water Everywhere: Northeast Waters Warmin’ and A Risin’

Researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Arizona recently released findings from tidal data collected over a two year period (2009-2010).  The central conclusion of the data is this: New England sea levels are rising more rapidly than anticipated. 

Although the study most likely represents a peak in data and not a permanent rise, the findings are still being held as significant.  The study found that over a two year period, Northeast waters rose on average 3.9 inches with the steepest rise of 5 inches taking place in Casco Bay, off the coast of Portland, Maine.  The report attributes the sharp rise to warming ocean temperatures.  This conclusion builds upon the initial findings of a more long-term study undertaken by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.  This study indicates that the waters of the Gulf of Maine are warming faster than 99 percent of the world’s oceans. (An informative discussion of the impacts of this trend on both marine life and fisheries can be found here.) 

Posted on February 27, 2015 .

Rhode Island Beach Access Restricted – Judge Rules in Favor of Landowners

As the sun sets on another summer in the Ocean State, a Superior Court judge has ruled that next summers’ beach won’t be quite as wide. The case involved a scenario all too familiar—and generally all too confusing for beachgoers in New England—signs pounded into open stretches of beach reading, “Private Beach – No Trespassing”.

Rhode Island Supreme Court Unsympathetic to Builder Error

“Measure twice, cut once.”  It’s an age old adage that can be worth its weight in gold. The Rhode Island Supreme Court seems to have subscribed to the adage in a recent decision.

 The Court ruled that a $1.8 million dollar home must be moved or demolished. The home was constructed entirely on private land dedicated to use as a public park.

The ocean-front parcel at issue was purchased in 1984. Shortly after, an engineering firm was hired to subdivide the parcel. Nearly thirty years later, Warwick Developer Robert C. Lamoureax’s construction company, Four Twenty, completed the luxurious 3-story structure adorned with a rooftop cabana in 2011. A prospective buyer for the abode entered into a purchase and sale agreement and began putting the home through its paces. That’s when the deal went sideways. The buyer’s survey reveled the footprint of the home was situated entirely on the adjacent parcel – legally speaking, a permanent trespasser. Lamoureaux immediately contacted the trustees of the park, but the two parties failed to reach an amicable solution and the Foundation filed suit.

The developer’s attorney argued the court could reach a decision short of removal. The court disagreed. It found that allowing the structure to remain within Rose Nulman Park would constitute “an unjust result” and constitute “a judicial taking of private property for private benefit.” The full decision can be read here.