ORDER ON RULE 80B APPEAL
LANCE E, WALKER JUSTICE SUPERIOR COURT
Plaintiffs-Appellants Timothy and Elizabeth Nangle (the ''Nangles'') Appeal from a decision by the Town of Windham Planning Board pursuant to Maine Rule of Civil Procedure 80B. Based on the following, the Nangles appeal is denied. The decision of the Town of Windham Planning Board is affirmed.
On July 2, 2015, Michael Manning, MGM Builders, Inc., and Ernest Valente (collectively, the "Applicants") submitted an application to the Town of Windham Planning Board (the "WPB") for final site plan review. (R. 1.) The Applicants sought approval of their site plan for the construction of a 2, 000-foot private road connecting River Road, a public I roadway, to Evans Ridge Road, a private road. (Id.) The proposed road would be located over two properties referred to as Lot 21 and Lot 22 on the Town of Windham Tax Map 5. (Id.)
Initially, the application was comprised of three applications for each phase of the project. (Id.) Manning was the applicant for Phase 1, MGM Builders, Inc. was the applicant for Phase 2, and Ernest Valente was the applicant for Phase 3. (Id.) The preliminary site plans, the revised site plans, and the road survey plan submitted with the application showed that, as part of Phase 3, the Applicants intended to connect the proposed road to Evans Ridge Road where Evans Ridge Road crosses a parcel of land referred to as Lot 21-3C. (R. 37, 42, 45.) Included in the application was a copy of an access easement deed, dated June 2, 2010, purporting to grant Michael S. Manning an easement to use Evans Ridge Road as it crosses Lot 21-3C. (R. 20.)
The WPB's Staff Review Committee held a site walk on July 27, 2015, and reviewed the application on July 28, 2015. (R. 48.) A public hearing on the Applicants' site plan was held during the WPB's August 10, 2015 meeting. (R. 58.) A representative spoke on behalf of the Applicants. (Id.) The Applicants' representative informed the WPB that the application was no longer three separate applications with three separate applicants. (Id.) The application was now a single application by the three Applicants. (Id.)
Mr. Nangle spoke at the public hearing. (R. 61-62.) Mr. Nangle asserted that Evans Ridge Road ran across his property and that he had an easement to use Evans Ridge Road. (R. 62.) Mr. Nangle asserted that connecting the proposed road to Evans Ridge Road would overburden his easement because there was no way to control access and egress over Evans Ridge Road or prevent others from crossing his property. (R. 61-62.)
Following the public hearing, the Applicants' counsel sent an email to the WPB on August 21, 2015. (R. 76.) The email sought to address issues raised by WPB's attorney regarding whether the Applicants' had demonstrated sufficient right, title, or interest in order to connect the proposed road to Evans Ridge Road. (R. 73-76.) Attached to the email was another copy of the June 2, 2010 access easement deed purporting to grant Michael S. Manning the right to use Evans Ridge Road where it crosses Lot 21-3C. (R. 77.)
The Applicants' site plan was discussed again at the WPB's August 24, 2015 meeting. (R. 82.) Mr. Nangle and Elizabeth Nangle both spoke during the meeting. (R. 83-84, 88-89.) Mr. Nangle asserted that the Applicants' right, title, or interest to use land in the manner for which they sought approval had not been fully investigated by the WPB. (R. 84.) Mr. Nangle again asserted that people would use Evans Ridge Road to cross his property despite the fact that they were not paying to maintain Evans Ridge Road. (R. 88.)
On August 25, 2015, the WPB issued a letter informing the Applicants that the WPB had approved their site plan to construct a new private roadway. (R. 95.) The letter contained the WPB's findings of fact and conclusions. (R. 96-99.) The WPB considered the Applicants' site plan for the proposed road as a single application. (R. 95-99.) The WPB found that the proposed road would in fact connect to Evans Ridge Road. (R. 96.) The WPB found that sufficient evidence of the Applicants' right, title, or interest to connect the proposed road to Evans Ridge Road at Lot 21-3C had been provided in the email from Applicants' counsel. (Id.)
On September 23, 2015, the Nangles filed a complaint against the Town of Windham and the Applicants pursuant to Rule 80B, appealing the WPB's decision. The Nangles filed their brief and copy of the administrative record on November 2, 2015. The Town of Windham filed its brief on December 1, 2015. The Applicants filed their brief on December 2, 2015. The Nangles also filed a reply brief on December 16, 2015. Oral argument was held on January 26, 2016.
II. WHETHER THE NANGLES HAVE STANDING TO BRING THIS APPEAL
As a threshold matter, the Applicants assert that the Nangles do not have standing to pursue this appeal. (Applicants' Br. 3.) In order to have standing to bring a Rule 80B appeal, the appellants must prove (1) that they were a party at the administrative proceeding, and (2) that they have suffered a particularized injury as a result of the agency's decision. Norris Family Assocs., LLC v. Town of Phippsburg, 2005 ME 102, ¶ 11, 879 A.2d 1007.
For the purposes of Rule 80B, the term "party" is broadly interpreted to mean an "any participant in the proceedings who is aggrieved" by the decision of the municipal agency. Id. ¶ 16. "Participation" in the municipal proceeding may be formal or informal, in person or through an attorney. Id. The "party" is not ...