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Cope v. Town of Brunswick

Maine Supreme Court
464 A.2d 223 (1983)


Facts

Mitchell and David Cope (plaintiffs) applied for a zoning exception to build eight six-unit apartment buildings on an undeveloped, wooded 21-acre parcel in the Town of Brunswick (defendant). The applicable suburban residential zoning ordinance permitted multi-unit apartment buildings if granted as special exceptions by the Brunswick Zoning Board of Appeals (the board). The board found that the Copes’ project did not comply with two subsections of the ordinance, which contained vague, general language requiring that the requested use not adversely affect the public welfare or impair the neighborhood’s essential character, but with no specifics as to how to apply those standards. The board decided that the proposed apartment complex would pose potential public safety problems and drastically change the character of the existing, quiet neighborhood, and denied the exception. The trial court affirmed. The Copes appealed, arguing that the special-exception conditions were too vague and discretionary to be enforced, and thus void as facially unconstitutional.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Wathen, J.)

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