Argued: October 13, 2017
E. Shepard, Esq. (orally), Shepard & Read, Kennebunk, for
appellants Dubois Livestock, Inc., and the Randrick Trust
T. Mills, Attorney General, and Katherine E. Tierney, Asst.
Atty. Gen. (orally), Office of the Attorney General, Augusta,
for appellee State of Maine
ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, and HUMPHREY, JJ.
Dubois Livestock, Inc., and the Randrick Trust appeal from a
judgment of the Superior Court (York County, O'Neil,
J.) granting the Department of Environmental Protections
request for a permanent injunction prohibiting Dubois and the
Trust from denying the Department access for solid waste
inspections. Dubois and the Trust argue that (1) the court
erred in concluding that 38 M.R.S. §§ 347-C and
1304(4-A) (2016) permit the Department to enter the property
without consent or an administrative search warrant and (2)
if the statutes do permit warrantless searches, the statutory
scheme violates their constitutional right to be free from
unreasonable searches and seizures. We affirm the judgment.
Dubois operates a composting business in Arundel on land
owned by the Randrick Trust and surrounded by fields the
Trust also owns. Dubois conducts its composting operation out
in the open on large uncovered impervious pads, far from any
buildings or residences. In 1999, the Department issued a
solid waste order granting Dubois an "after-the-fact
license" to receive 1, 733 tons of fish waste and 3, 467
tons of horse manure annually. See Dubois Livestock, Inc.
v. Town of Arundel, 2014 ME 122, ¶ 2, 103A.3d 556.
In 2012, Dubois requested and the Department granted a
license amendment that allows Dubois to receive up to 29, 000
total tons of composting materials annually, consisting of 8,
000 tons of solid waste residuals, including fish and
shellfish waste, and 21, 000 tons of additional material,
such as horse manure, cow manure, horse bedding, and
woodchips. See id. The license amendment represented
a fivefold increase in the volume of composting material that
Dubois could accept each year.
Pursuant to its license and the rules promulgated pursuant to
the Maine Hazardous Waste, Septage and Solid Waste Management
Act (Solid Waste Act), 38 M.R.S. §§ 1301 to 1319-Y
(2016), Dubois is required to "prevent nuisance odors at
occupied buildings." 2 C.M.R. 06 096 410-5 §
(4)(E)(1) (2015). During the spring of 2015, on at least one
occasion, Dubois spread compost material on the Trusts
surrounding fields. Soon after, the Department received
multiple complaints about odors believed to be emanating from
Duboiss premises and the Trusts fields. In response to these
complaints, the Department sought access to Duboiss premises
to conduct inspections and access to the Trusts fields to
inspect and take samples of the material spread by Dubois.
Dubois initially permitted the Department to enter the
property, but after additional odor complaints and follow-up
by the Department in the fall of 2015, representatives of
Dubois and the Trust denied the Department access.
In response, on November 23, 2015, the Department filed a
complaint against Dubois and the Trust in the Superior Court
seeking a declaratory judgment that the Department has the
right, pursuant to 38 M.R.S. §§ 347-C and
1304(4-A), to enter Duboiss business premises and the
surrounding fields to inspect and take samples, and seeking a
permanent injunction prohibiting Dubois and the Trust from
denying the Department such access. See 38 M.R.S.
§ 348(1) (2016). The Department also sought a
preliminary injunction to the same effect.
After a contested hearing, the court issued a declaratory
judgment stating that the Department has statutory authority
"to enter property to inspect and ensure compliance,
" and that "[n]either consent nor an administrative
warrant is required by the statutory scheme." The court
granted the Department a permanent injunction prohibiting
Dubois and the Trust from denying the Department such access
during "reasonable hours, " and affirmed the
constitutionality of the statutory scheme as applied to
Dubois and the Trust. Dubois and the Trust appeal.
This case requires us to determine, for the first time, the
parameters of the Departments right to enter and inspect
property, pursuant to 38 M.R.S. §§ 347-C and
1304(4-A), to ensure compliance with the solid waste laws and
the rules that the Department administers in enforcing those
laws. Our standard for interpreting statutory provisions is
In interpreting these provisions, we first look to the plain
language of the provisions to determine their meaning. If the
language is unambiguous, we interpret the provisions
according to their unambiguous meaning unless the result is
illogical or absurd. If the plain language of a statute is
ambiguous-that is, susceptible of different meanings-we will
then go on to consider ...