SUSAN E. BRYANT
TOWN OF CAMDEN et al
November 5, 2015.
briefs: Ryan P. Dumais, Esq., John J. Moran, Esq., Eaton
Peabody, Brunswick, for appellant Susan E. Bryant.
S. Kelly, Esq., and Kristin M. Collins, Esq., Kelly &
Collins, LLC, Belfast, for appellee Town of Camden.
W. Hanscom, Esq., Crandall, Hanscom & Collins, P.A.,
Rockland, for appellee Breda, LLC.
argument: Ryan P. Dumais, Esq., for appellant Susan E.
M. Collins, Esq., for appellee Town of Camden.
W. Hanscom, Esq., for appellee Breda, LLC.
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, and
[¶1] In an effort to reduce confusion,
costs, and delay in municipal appeals, we today announce more
clearly the need for finality in municipal decisions before a
municipal entity's action may be appealed to the courts.
Specifically, we consider when a municipal agency's
decision constitutes a final action subject to immediate
judicial review and when, instead, additional municipal
decision making is necessary before
an appeal is ripe for consideration by the courts.
[¶2] Breda, LLC, the owner of the Camden
Harbour Inn, applied to the Town of Camden for authorization
to increase the number of guest rooms and parking spaces for
the Inn, and to reduce the number of seats at the Inn's
restaurant. Because the Inn is located within the Town's
Traditional Village District, the Inn was required by the
Zoning Ordinance of the Town of Camden to obtain a special
exception permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals before
seeking site plan approval from the Planning Board.
See Camden, Me., Zoning Ordinance art. VII, §
4(3)(e), art. VIII, § 7(C)(11), art. XII, § 2 (Nov.
5, 2013). The ZBA granted that permit subject to conditions
and further consideration by the Planning Board, and allowed
the Inn to proceed to the Planning Board for site plan
review. Before site plan review could occur, and in reliance
on the language of the Town's Ordinance, see id.
art. VII, § 2(7), Susan E. Bryant, an abutter, appealed
the ZBA's decision granting the special exception permit
to the Superior Court. The court (Knox County, Billings,
J.) affirmed the ZBA's grant of the special
exception permit. Although Bryant's appeal from the grant
of the preliminary special exception permit was expressly
provided for in the Ordinance, we vacate the judgment of the
Superior Court and remand for dismissal of Bryant's
complaint because the decision of the ZBA was not a final
action subject to appellate review in the courts, and the
matter is not justiciable.
[¶3] Breda, LLC, owns and operates the
Camden Harbour Inn, which is located in the Town's
Traditional Village District. In that district, use of land
for a hotel is ordinarily permitted only if, among other
criteria, the hotel has " more than ten (10) but fewer
than fifteen (15) sleeping rooms," with restaurant
facilities that " prepare food and serve meals only to
overnight guests of that hotel." Camden, Me., Zoning
Ordinance art. VIII, § 7(B)(12). The Inn, however, has
more than fifteen sleeping rooms, and it prepares food and
serves meals to the public--uses that are currently allowed
because the uses were " lawful at the time of adoption
of this Ordinance." Id. art. VI, §
[¶4] On December 20, 2013, Breda submitted
to the Town an application for a special exception permit to
renovate the Inn to eliminate sixteen seats from the
restaurant and add eight new rental rooms and four new
parking spaces. In the Traditional Village District, the
" [e]xpansion of hotels or motels with ten or more rooms
offered for rent, legally in existence as of March 11, 1985,
within a lot of record existing as of March 11, 1985,"
is permitted as a special exception, " subject to
conformity with applicable space and bulk standards."
Id. art. VIII, § 7(C)(11). Breda's
application included information offered to establish
compliance with the criteria for granting a special exception
permit, which are related to the size, intensity, and