Justia Environmental Law Opinion Summaries
Articles Posted in Maine Supreme Court
The Department of Environmental Protection approved an application of Saddleback Ridge Wind, LLC for a permit to construct the Saddleback Ridge Wind Project, a wind energy development. The Board of Environmental Protection affirmed. Friends of Maine's Mountains, Friends of Saddleback Mountain, and several individuals appealed, arguing, among other things, that the Board abused its discretion when determining which nighttime sound level limit to apply to the applications. The Supreme Court vacated the Board's order related to nighttime sound requirements and remanded, holding that the Board failed to meet its statutory obligation to protect the health and welfare of the Project's neighbors and thus abused its discretion in approving Saddleback's permit applications. View "Friends of Maine's Mountains. v. Bd. of Envtl. Prot." on Justia Law
Posted in: Energy, Oil & Gas Law, Environmental Law, Government & Administrative Law, Maine Supreme Court
The Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) and Plum Creek Timberlands, LLC and Plum Creek Land Company (collectively, Plum Creek) appealed from a judgment entered in the business and consumer docket vacating LURC's approval of a rezoning petition and concept plan submitted by Plum Creek for land it owned in the Moosehead Lake region. LURC and Plum Creek contended that the court erred by concluding that LURC violated its procedural rules by failing to hold an additional evidentiary hearing on amendments to Plum Creek's petition. Forest Ecology Network, RESTORE: The North Woods, and the Natural Resources Council of Maine cross-appealed, arguing primarily that LURC erred in approving the petition because several aspects of the concept plan conflicted with statutory requirements. The Nature Conservancy and Forest Society of Maine intervened. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment and remanded for the entry of a judgment affirming LURC's decision, holding that LURC did not violate its procedural rules and did not otherwise err by approving the rezoning petition and concept plan. View "Forest Ecology Network v. Land Use Regulation Comm'n" on Justia Law
Posted in: Environmental Law, Maine Supreme Court, Real Estate & Property Law, Zoning, Planning & Land Use
Plaintiffs owned intertidal land on Maine's coast that lay in front of the property of Defendants. Defendants owned a commercial scuba diving business and would walk with their clients from their property onto and across Plaintiffs' intertidal land in order to scuba dive. Plaintiffs filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a determination that Defendants had no right to cross their intertidal land for scuba diving and seeking an injunction prohibiting such use. The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants, declaring that crossing the Plaintiffs' intertidal land to access the water for recreational or commercial scuba diving was within the public's right to use intertidal land for navigation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding, as a matter of Maine common law, the public has a right to walk across intertidal lands to reach the ocean for purposes of scuba diving.
Defendant Robert St. Onge, president and member of Winterwood, operated a composting facility at his farm that accepted solid waste and converted it into compost for sale. The Department of Environmental Protection filed a land use complaint against Winterwood related to the discharge of pollutants from its composting operation into a nearby brook. The court entered a contempt order that required Winterwood to cease the discharge of pollutants into state waters. On the Department's motion to enforce the contempt order, the court ordered that Winterwood was immediately prohibited from receiving any other composting material. Later, four different waste companies delivered waste to Winterwood for composting. The state filed a criminal complaint and summons, charging St. Onge as principal of Winterwood with contempt. In superior court, St. Onge signed a jury trial waiver. The court adjudicated St. Onge to be in contempt as a Class D crime and sentenced him to six months in jail. St. Onge appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed all aspects of the judgment with the exception of the Class D modification. Because an adjudication of contempt with punitive sanctions is not a Class D crime, the judgment was modified accordingly.