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More of Crispin v. Scarborough
IV. PROPERTY CLAIMS
	[¶28]  Finally, the Crispins argue that the Superior Court erred in
concluding that the prospective use of their easement by Maine Life Care
would not unreasonably burden their own use. 
	[¶29]  The Crispins' property claims address the use of a private road,
known as Piper Road, connecting their shorefront property to Spurwink
Road.  While Piper Road lies on property that will be wholly owned by Maine
Life Care, a binding dedication agreement entered into by the previous
owner of the Crispins' property gives the Crispins "[t]he right to enter and
transit [Piper Road] for passage by foot, vehicle or otherwise."  The Crispins
argued before the Superior Court that their rights in Piper Road will be
substantially impaired by Maine Life Care's plans to improve the road and to
use it as the primary means of access for its proposed development.  The
primary issue before the Superior Court was, therefore, whether the
dedication agreement, to which both parties were bound, allowed such use
of the servient tenement by Maine Life Care, its future owner.  See Guild v.
Hinman, 1997 ME 120, ¶ 6, 695 A.2d 1190, 1193.
	[¶30]  The construction of language in an easement deed is a question
of law, which we review de novo.  See Fine Line, Inc. v. Blake, 677 A.2d
1061, 1063 (Me. 1996).  If the language of the deed is unambiguous, the
scope of a party's easement rights is determined solely from that language. 
See id. (quoting Rancourt v. Town of Glenburn, 635 A.2d 964, 965 (Me.
1993)).  If the language of the deed is ambiguous, however, the scope of a
party's easement rights may be determined based on extrinsic evidence of
the original parties' intent.  See id. at 1063-64.  If extrinsic evidence is
admitted, the Superior Court must "ascertain the objectively manifested
intention of the parties in light of circumstances in existence recently prior
to the conveyance."  Guild, 1997 ME 120, ¶ 7, 695 A.2d at 1193.  We will
uphold the Superior Court's factual findings regarding the original parties'
intent unless we find them to be clearly erroneous.  See id.; White v. Zela,
1997 ME 8, ¶ 3, 687 A.2d 645, 646.  
	[¶31]  The Superior Court found that the language of the dedication
agreement itself was ambiguous, and thus admitted evidence relevant to the
intent of the original parties to that agreement.  See Badger v. Hill, 404 A.2d
222, 225 (Me. 1979).  Based on the evidence presented at trial, the court
found that the signatory parties intended that the dedication agreement
would facilitate eventual commercial development of their properties, and
that the proposed development in this case would not create conditions
inconsistent with that intent. 
	[¶32]  The Superior Court did not err in concluding that the language
is ambiguous.  The dedication does reference the possibility of future
development of the servient property.  It does not, however, delineate the
nature or agreed upon parameters of any future development.  For example,
the agreement contains the following statement:
The grant of easements and the benefits, covenants, terms,
conditions, restrictions and purposes created by this Dedication
shall also extend to any additional lots or parcels resulting from
one or more divisions of a portion or portions of the Benefitted
Property.

(Emphasis added.)  While the language of the dedication unambiguously
anticipated some future development of the servient property, the Superior
Court did not err in concluding that there was ambiguity as to whether the
parties intended to allow a development as substantial as that proposed by
Maine Life Care.  See Fine Line, 677 A.2d at 1064.
	[¶33]  At trial, ample evidence existed to support the Superior Court's
conclusion that the parties intended the dedication to allow the use of the
easement proposed by Maine Life Care.  For example, Margaret Osgood, an
original party to the dedication agreement testified that she believed the
purpose of the agreement was
to protect us in a sense so we could further develop the land
when we chose to sell it so there wouldn't be any limitations on
what we could do with our land at a later date.

(Emphasis added.)  Other parties to the agreement had a similar
recollection, and the Superior Court apparently found this testimony to be
credible.  See VanVoorhees v. Dodge, 679 A.2d 1077, 1080 (Me. 1996)
(credibility determinations solely for presiding judge as trier of fact). 
Therefore, we find that the Superior Court's conclusion was not clearly
erroneous.  See White, 1997 ME 8, ¶ 3, 687 A.2d at 646.
	[¶34]  The Crispins also argue, first, that Maine Life Care's planned
construction of an angled curb bordering portions of Piper Road will impair
the effective use of their easement, see Badger, 404 A.2d at 227, and,
second, that Maine Life Care's planned construction of an emergency access
road between Piper Road and the Higgins Beach area will overburden the
right of way, see generally Taylor v. Nutter, 687 A.2d 632, 635-36 (Me.
1996).  The Superior Court, however, found, as a matter of fact, that the
proposed curb would not obstruct the Crispins' right to traverse the right of
way and that the proposed emergency access road would be "gated and used
only as a secondary emergency route."{10}  These findings of fact were not
clearly erroneous.  See White, 1997 ME 8, ¶ 3, 687 A.2d at 646.
V. CONCLUSION
	[¶35]  We need not address the remaining issues raised by the
Crispins.  Finding no error in the actions of the Town Council or the Board,
and finding no error in the decisions and judgments of the Superior Court,
we must affirm the judgments.{11} 
	The entry is:
Judgment affirmed.

Attorneys for plaintiffs: Peggy L. McGehee, Esq., (orally) David B. McConnell, Esq. Gregory B. Poitras, Esq. Perkins, Thompson, Hinckley & Keddy P O Box 426 Portland, ME 04112-0426 Attorneys for defendants: Sally J. Daggett, Esq., (orally) Deborah M. Mann, Esq. Jensen, Baird, Gardner & Henry P O Box 4510 Portland, ME 04112 (for Maine Life Care Retirement Community, Inc.) Christopher L. Vaniotis, Esq., (orally) Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer & Nelson, P.A. P O Box 9729 Portland, ME 04104-5029 (for Town of Scarborough) Barry Zimmerman, Esq. U. Charles Remmel II, Esq. Kelley, Remmel & Zimmerman P O Box 597 Portland, ME 04112-0597 (for Homer, Adams, Osgood, Osgood and Hodgdon) Portland, ME 04112-0426
FOOTNOTES******************************** {1} . The appellants are Robert Crispin, Kathleen Crispin, Stephen Seabury, Leslie Seabury, L.A. Hibbard, Audrey Hibbard, Robert Hoy, Marian Hoy, Charles Harvey Warren, Leon Ahlquist, Ann Ahlquist, William Stroud, William Holt Jr., Deborah Lee, Gretchen Mikeska, Donna Adams, Leeann Hanson, Elizabeth Holt, Harry Moody, Richard P. Herrera, Bradford Seabury, Ann Seabury, Mario Iacopucci, Muriel Townsend, and Nannette D'Amour. All are residents of the Town of Scarborough. We will refer to the appellants collectively as "the Crispins." {2} . Along with the Crispins, Alexander and Barbara S. Pratt were abutting landowners and originally plaintiffs in this action; since the complaint was filed, however, Alexander Pratt has died. Barbara Pratt has apparently sold her abutting property and has not joined in this appeal. The defendants named in this action were the Town of Scarborough, the Scarborough Town Council, Michael Martin (a member of the Town Council), the Scarborough Planning Board, and Maine Life Care Retirement Community, Inc. {3} . Later, Maine Life Care voluntarily dismissed without prejudice the count in its counterclaim in which it sought to quiet title to the roadway. {4} . The defendants named in this action were, in addition to Maine Life Care, the original property owners who had agreed to give Maine Life Care the option to purchase the property for its planned development. Those property owners were Doris Homer, Patricia P. Adams (in her individual capacity and as trustee of the Doris F. Homer 1991 Nominee Trust), Margaret J. Osgood, Sarah F. Osgood, and Frank G. Hodgdon Jr. {5} . In their appeal from the approval of amendments to the plan, the Crispins argued that the Planning Board abused its discretion by considering and approving the amendments to the plan for the proposed development because the Town's attorney was associated with a law firm that had represented a real estate broker in the negotiations of the sale of the subject property to Maine Life Care. Several times during the course of the proceedings, the Town's attorney fully disclosed the details of the alleged conflict and stated that he believed he could represent the Town consistently with his obligations under the Code of Professional Responsibility. In addition, he offered to withdraw from representation of the Town if any of the members of the Planning Board wished. The Planning Board fully and publicly considered the disclosure by its long-time attorney and affirmatively sought his continuing representation. The Crispins have failed to demonstrate any bias or prejudice on the part of the Town's attorney, and we find no error in the Planning Board's decision or in the Superior Court's action. See Toussaint v. Town of Harpswell, 1997 ME 189, ¶ 11, 698 A.2d 1063, 1066-67. {6} . To the extent that the Board's discussions in deliberations appeared to create an ambiguity on issues related to the comprehensive plan, any question about the Board's determination was resolved at a subsequent joint workshop between the Planning Board and the Town Council on Maine Life Care's proposed project, when the members of the Planning Board reiterated their agreement with the conclusion that the proposed development was consistent with the Town's comprehensive plan. {7} . Although we have reviewed municipalities' zoning procedures under constitutional standards, see Vella v. Town of Camden, 677 A.2d 1051, 1054 (Me. 1996) (finding "no evidence . . . that public notice was constitutionally deficient"); F.S. Plummer Co., 612 A.2d at 861-62 (finding that "[t]he notice provided was constitutionally sufficient"), we have never explicitly extended a specific right to procedural due process to an abutting landowner adversely affected by a zoning ordinance. Other courts have, however, concluded that zoning, as a legislative act, does not entitle those indirectly affected to the protection of constitutional due process. See, e.g., Rogin v. Bensalem Township, 616 F.2d 680, 693-94 (3d Cir. 1980) (holding that the protections of procedural due process did not extend to homeowners whose property was rendered less valuable by amendments to a township's zoning ordinance), cert. denied, sub nom. Mark-Garner Assocs., Inc. v. Bensalem Township, 450 U.S. 1029 (1981); see also County Line Joint Venture v. City of Grand Prairie, Texas, 839 F.2d 1142, 1144-45 (5th Cir. 1988) (citing Rogin), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 890 (1988); Collier v. City of Springdale, 733 F.2d 1311, 1314 n.5 (8th Cir. 1984) (citing Rogin), cert. denied, 469 U.S. 857 (1984); Smithfield Concerned Citizens for Fair Zoning v. Town of Smithfield, 719 F. Supp. 75, 83-84 (D.R.I. 1989) (citing Rogin), aff'd, 907 F.2d 239 (1st Cir. 1990). {8} . In fact, the Town Council did not limit the number of times that a person who wished to speak could address the Council. The attorney who represented the Crispins spoke twice, for a total of about nine minutes. She chose not to speak a third time and declined the Town Council's offer to use the time that would have been allotted to other members of the audience. {9} . The Crispins were allowed to address the Town Council immediately after the Council had voted on the motion to reconsider. {10} . Any confusion regarding the angle of the curbing was harmless given the court's conclusion, supported by record evidence, that a vehicle could drive over the angled curb without difficulty. {11} . The appellants also challenged the finality of the judgment entered by the Superior Court, alleging deficiencies in the docketing of certain orders of the court. Contrary to their argument, the Superior Court thoroughly addressed each of the many claims involved in this case, and the docketing was adequate to inform the parties of the substance of the court's orders. See M.R. Civ. P. 79(a). Any clerical errors in the docketing of the court's orders did not substantively affect the judgment. Cf. Bramson v. Richardson, 412 A.2d 381, 383 (Me. 1980).
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