SHAWN A. GRANT
TOWN OF BELGRADE
Argued: October 9, 2019
J. Bearor, Esq. (orally), Jonathan P. Hunter, Esq., and
Stephen W. Wagner, Esq., Rudman Winchell, Bangor, for
appellant Shawn A. Grant
Michael A. Hodgins, Esq. (orally), Eaton Peabody, Bangor, for
appellee Town of Belgrade
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and
Shawn A. Grant appeals from a judgment of the Superior Court
(Kennebec County, Stokes, /.) pursuant to M.R. Civ.
P. 8OB, affirming a decision of the Town of Belgrade Zoning
Board of Appeals (BOA), which denied Grant's application
for commercial use of his property at 24 Hulin Road. Because
the court did not err in affirming the BOA's decision, we
affirm the judgment.
The following facts are drawn from the BOA's findings,
which are supported by the record. See M.R. Civ. P.
8OB(f). Grant's property comprises two addresses spanning
three lots in Belgrade. Grant resides at 21 Hulin Road (Map
26, Lot 58). The land at issue in this appeal is located
across the street from 21 Hulin Road at 24 Hulin Road (Map
26, Lots 33 and 34). Combined, lots 33 and 34 cover
approximately 25, 000 square feet in area and have 200 feet
of shore frontage on Great Pond. The 24 Hulin Road property
is located in the Limited Commercial District within
Belgrade's Shoreland Zone. The 24 Hulin Road property has
long supported a residence, which Grant rents to a tenant.
In 2008, the Town's Planning Board approved Grant's
application for a home occupation permit to conduct
"[b]oat cleaning, painting and varnishing" for his
new business, "Brightside Boat Services," at 21
Hulin Road. Over the next decade, Grant expanded his business
beyond boat restoration. He installed docks extending from
his property at 24 Hulin Road into Great Pond and rented out
boat slips, kayaks, and paddle boards. Customers use the 24
Hulin Road property to park, access the docks, and launch
In 2018, Grant submitted applications to the Planning Board
for a seasonal dock and boat rental business at the 24 Hulin
Road property under the Commercial Development Review
Ordinance (CDRO) and the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance
(SZO). Belgrade, Me., Commercial Development
Review Ordinance § 5 (Mar. 17, 2017); Belgrade, Me.,
Shoreland Zoning Ordinance § 16 (June 7, 2011). The
Planning Board denied both applications, concluding that the
property failed to meet the minimum lot standards provided in
Section 15(A) of the SZO. See Belgrade, Me.,
Shoreland Zoning Ordinance § 15(A).
Grant filed an appeal with the BOA on May 3, 2018, arguing
that the Planning Board misinterpreted the SZO. The BOA
conducted a de novo hearing, considering all potentially
applicable Town Ordinances-the SZO, CDRO, and Minimum Lot
Size Ordinance (MLSO). Belgrade, Me., Shoreland Zoning
Ordinance; Belgrade, Me., Commercial Development Review
Ordinance; Belgrade, Me., Minimum Lot Size Ordinance (Mar.
19, 2010). During the hearing, Grant offered to discontinue
residential use of 24 Hulin Road so that the property would
have a single principal use (commercial) rather than two
principal uses (commercial and residential). However, the BOA
determined that even if the sole principal use was
commercial, the property failed to meet the square footage
and shore frontage requirements found in the SZO and MLSO.
Belgrade, Me., Shoreland Zoning Ordinance § 15(A)(1)(b);
Belgrade, Me., Minimum Lot Size Ordinance § 5(D)(1)(a).
The BOA's key conclusions were as follows: Grant's
use of 24 Hulin Road for Brightside's activities
constitutes a commercial use; Section 11 of the SZO prevents
a change in use from residential to commercial that is not
grandfathered under the SZO; Section 12(E) of the SZO, which
allows for nonconforming lots, does not allow changes in use
on a nonconforming lot when minimum lot standards are not
met; and the MLSO prevents a change in use that renders a
nonconforming lot less conforming. As to the CDRO permit, the
BOA's sole basis for denial was that the 24 Hulin Road
property failed to conform to the requirements of other
Ordinances, namely the SZO and MLSO.
Grant appealed the BOA's decision to the Superior Court
pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 8OB. In a judgment entered on
February 22, 2019, the court affirmed the BOA's decision.
Grant now appeals to us. He argues that (1) the BOA erred
when it determined that his waterfront activities constituted
a new commercial use requiring permits and that (2) the BOA
misinterpreted the SZO when it concluded that 24 Hulin Road,
comprising legally nonconforming lots, was subject to the
SZO's dimensional requirements.
When the Superior Court acts as an intermediate appellate
court, we review directly the operative decision of the
municipality for "abuse of discretion, errors of law, or
findings not supported by the substantial evidence in the
record." Gensheimer v. Town of Phippsburg, 2005
ME 22, ¶¶ 7, 16, 868 A.2d 161 (quotation marks
[W]hether the operative decision of the municipality is the
Planning Board decision or the decision of the Board of
Appeals depends on the type of review that the Board of
Appeals is authorized to undertake and what kind of review
that Board actually performs: If the Board of Appeals acted
as a tribunal of original jurisdiction, that is, as
factfinder and decision maker, we review its decision
directly. If, however, ...