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Lippman v. Town of Lincolnville
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Decision:1999 ME 149
Argued:	October 5, 1999
Decided:	October 26, 1999




	[¶1]  Catherine Lippman and other neighboring landowners{1} appeal
from the judgment of the Superior Court (Waldo County, Atwood, J.)
affirming an order of the Lincolnville Zoning Board of Appeals granting
Richard McLaughlin's request for a permit to build an accessory building to
his take-out restaurant on Lincolnville Beach.  Plaintiffs argue that the Board
misconstrued the zoning ordinance when it determined that the property in
question was located in the Harbor District.  Finding no error, we affirm the
	[¶2]  McLaughlin owns a take-out restaurant on Lot 79 in Lincolnville
on Lincolnville Beach next to the State Ferry Dock.  McLaughlin submitted a
shoreland zoning application to build an accessory building. The building
permit was approved by the code enforcement officer and Lippman and
other neighbors appealed to the Lincolnville Zoning Board of Appeals.  After
a public hearing was held, the Board denied the appeal finding the project
in compliance with the provisions pertaining to the Harbor District in the
Shoreland Zoning Ordinance. Plaintiffs timely filed a Rule 80B complaint in
the Superior Court and the court affirmed the Board's decision. Plaintiffs
now appeal to this Court.
	[¶3] We review the Board of Appeals' decision directly for abuse of
discretion, legal error, or findings unsupported by substantial evidence in
the record. See Pitcher v. Town of Wayne, 599 A.2d 1155, 1156 (Me. 1991). 
Plaintiffs contend that the Board erred in interpreting the meaning of
"Harbor District" in its Shoreland Zoning Ordinance to include the area of
land on which Lot 79 is located. The Ordinance in effect at the time of the
application defined "Harbor District" as follows:
The Harbor District includes areas where the existing
predominant pattern of development is consistent with the
allowed uses for this district as indicated in the Table of Land
Uses, Section 14, and other areas which are suitable for
functionally water-dependent uses.

The Harbor District shall include that area of Penobscot Bay
enclosed within the boundary lines set forth as follows:  The
point of beginning shall be at the northern end of the State of
Maine Ferry Dock following the shoreline north to the outlet of
Frohock Brook at the U.S. Route #1 bridge over Frohock Brook.
Lincolnville, Me., Shoreland Zoning Ordinance § 13(D) (June 24, 1991).{2} 
	[¶4]  Plaintiffs argue that the meaning of "Harbor District" in the
Ordinance limits the boundaries to only "an area of Penobscot Bay which
would include the intertidal land and the submerged land below the low tide
line." Their contention that the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance in essence
zones the ocean is in derogation of every other indication that the Harbor
District was intended to include land from the mean high water line to
Route 1 as shown on the zoning map. The zoning map, which is
incorporated into the Ordinance, see Lincolnville, Me., Shoreland Zoning
Ordinance § 9(A) (June 24, 1991), shows the Harbor District extending to
U.S. Route 1.  Moreover, land uses allowed in the Harbor District include
land-based activities such as hunting, fishing, hiking, motorized vehicular
traffic on existing roads and trails, forest management activities, including
timber harvesting, surveying and resource analysis, agriculture, aquaculture,
filling and earth moving, and signs, as well as mineral exploration, docks,
piers, wharves, and other structures extending over or below normal high
water line, home occupations, private campsites, and road construction with
certain approvals. See Lincolnville, Me., Shoreland Zoning Ordinance § 14
(June 24, 1991).  
	[¶5]  We must construe an ordinance reasonably to avoid an absurd
result.  See Banks v. Maine RSA #1, 1998 ME 272, ¶ 4, 721 A.2d 655, 657. 
Plaintiffs argue strenuously for an absurd and unreasonable result.  Their
contention is so lacking in logic, rationale, and authority, it could only have
been interposed for purposes of delay.  Accordingly, we impose sanctions on
the plaintiffs and their counsel pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 76(f).  We order
plaintiffs or their counsel to pay the Town of Lincolnville and Richard
McLaughlin treble costs plus $250 each to be applied to their respective
attorney fees.
	The entry is:
Judgment affirmed.  Further ordered
that plaintiffs or their counsel pay to
defendants treble costs and $250 each,
to be applied toward their attorney fees.
Attorney for plaintiffs: Clifford H. Goodall, Esq., (orally) Dyer & Goodhall 45 Memorial Drive Augusta, ME 04330 Attorneys for defendants: John L. Carver, Esq., (orally) Joseph W. Baiungo, Esq. Carver, Kimball & Baiungo 10 Church Street Belfast, ME 04915 (for Town of Lincolnville) David J. Perkins, Esq., (orally) Perkins, Olson & Pratt, P.A. P O Box 449 Portland, ME 04112-0449 (for Richard McLaughlin)
FOOTNOTES******************************** {1} 1. The other plaintiffs are Paul Lippman, David and Kate Waterman, Jim and Susan O'Reilly, and Leo and Ann Mills. {2} 2. The Ordinance was amended on June 16, 1997. Because the code enforcement officer had performed various reviews prior to the amendment of the Ordinance, plaintiffs conceded that there was substantive review of the application, and thus that the application was pending at the time of the amendment. Therefore, the 1997 amendment does not apply to this application. See 1 M.R.S.A. § 302 (1989).