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Penobscot Area Housing Development Corp. v. City of Brewer

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine
434 A.2d 14 (Me. 1981)


The Penobscot Area Housing Development Corporation (the Corporation) (plaintiff) was an organization that provided housing for mentally disabled individuals. The Corporation purchased a house in the City of Brewer (the city) (defendant), Maine, in which the Corporation planned to house six mentally disabled individuals and two Corporation staffers. The on-site staffers would live in the house on a rotational basis. The house was located in an area zoned for single-family, residential use. The Corporation applied to the city for an occupancy permit. A code enforcement officer for the city denied the application, finding that the Corporation’s planned use for the house did not meet the city’s definition of a family and thus could not be permitted in the residential zoning district. The city’s zoning regulations included in the definition of a family a collective body of persons living together in a domestic relationship based on a domestic bond. The regulation explicitly distinguished groups living in boarding houses, fraternity houses, or other similar homes from this type of domestic bond. The city’s Board of Appeals (the Board) and the superior court affirmed the code enforcement officer’s decision. The Board also found that the average stay of a mentally disabled individual in the house was approximately one to one and a half years. The Corporation appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Nichols, J.)

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