Articles Posted in Real Estate Law

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After the City of Portland entered into negotiations to sell a portion of Congress Square Park (Park), an urban park in the City’s ownership, Friends of Congress Square Park (Friends) filed a citizens’ initiative to amend the City’s land bank ordinance, which would (1) create a new category of land bank property and designate certain parcels, including the Park, as belonging in that category; and (2) require approval of eight of nine City Council members to dispose of property in the land bank. The City declined to issue petition forms pursuant to the procedure set forth in section 9-36 of the City Code because, inter alia, the proposed amendments did not affect any legislative matters. The City Council subsequently approved the sale of a portion of the Park. On judicial review, the superior court concluded that the petition was a proper subject of a citizens’ initiative and entered a permanent injunction requiring the City to issue the petition forms. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the amendments proposed by Friends were within the scope of the citizens’ initiative power pursuant to section 9-36(a) of the City Code. View "Friends of Congress Square Park v. City of Portland" on Justia Law

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In 2010, the assessor for the Town of Scarborough valued Plaintiff’s property for the tax year 2010-11 at the same assessed value as set in 2005. Plaintiff subsequently filed an application for a tax abatement, which the assessor denied. Thereafter, Plaintiff filed an application for assessment review with Scarborough’s Board of Assessment Review, arguing that the Town’s assessor substantially overvalued his property. After a hearing, the Board denied Plaintiff’s appeal, concluding that Plaintiff did not meet his burden of showing that the property was substantially overvalued relative to its market value. The Supreme Court vacated the Board’s determination and remanded for a reevaluation of Plaintiff’s property, holding that, in this case, the evidence established that the property was substantially overvalued. View "Terfloth v. Town of Scarborough" on Justia Law

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Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC filed a complaint seeking a judgment of foreclosure against John and Cheryl Bartlett, alleging that the Bartletts had defaulted on a note secured by a mortgage on their home. After Bayview failed to appear at three mediation sessions, the district court dismissed Bayview’s complaint with prejudice, concluding that dismissal was the only appropriate sanction in light of Bayview’s pattern of disruptive behavior. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing Bayview’s action with prejudice, as the district court understood the gravity of the sanction it was imposing, did not improperly rely on the Bartletts’ motions to dismiss, and correctly weighed the applicable facts in making its decision.View "Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC v. Bartlett" on Justia Law

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Lewis Lubar, the trustee of The Clover Trust, filed a complaint for foreclosure against Frederick Connelly. Connelly filed an answer and several affirmative defenses. The superior court granted Lubar’s motion for summary judgment and ordered the sale of Connelly’s residence. Connelly appealed. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of foreclosure and order of sale, holding that summary judgment was improperly granted because (1) Lubar failed to include the minimum required, properly supported, facts in his statement of material facts, and therefore, Lubar failed to demonstrate that there were no genuine issues of material fact and that he was entitled to judgment as a matter of law; and (2) the record was rife with genuine issues of fact material to deciding the issues raised in this case, including Connelly’s affirmative defenses. Remanded.View "Lubar v. Connelly" on Justia Law

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Bangor Savings Bank filed a foreclosure complaint against Robin Richard. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Bank. Richard appealed, arguing, that the district court erred in granting the Bank’s motion for summary judgment for several reasons. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the district court, holding that, under strict application of the rules of summary judgment in the context of a residential mortgage foreclosure, the Bank did not set forth a properly supported statement of fact regarding the amount due on the mortgage note, and therefore, there remained a genuine issue of material fact as to the amount owed under the mortgage. Remanded. View "Bangor Savings Bank v. Richard" on Justia Law

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Over the course of several decades, Plaintiffs and their predecessors in title used a section of their neighbor’s property, now owned by Defendants. In 2011, Plaintiffs filed an action alleging that they had obtained a prescriptive easement over the section of land. The superior court granted Plaintiffs a prescriptive easement over the disputed property, finding that Plaintiffs had established all elements necessary to the cause of action. On appeal, Defendants argued, among other things, that the Supreme Court should adopt a “friendly-neighbor” exception to the presumption of adversity that arises when the other elements of a prescriptive easement have been established. The Supreme Court affirmed without reaching Defendants’ legal argument because the superior court did not find that a friendly-neighbor relationship existed during the relevant timeframe.View "Riffle v. Smith" on Justia Law

Posted in: Real Estate Law

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Plaintiffs, owners of property fronting a beach in the Town of Kennebunkport, filed this action against the Town and any member of the public who claimed any right to use the beach. The State and neighboring landowners, who filed counterclaims, intervened. The superior court determined (1) the Town and the public enjoyed a public prescriptive easement and easement by custom to engage in recreational activities on both the wet and dry sand portions of the beach; and (2) the public had rights concerning the intertidal zone of the beach pursuant to the public trust doctrine. The Supreme Court vacated the superior court's judgment, holding (1) the neighboring landowners were not proper parties to the litigation; (2) the superior court erred in awarding the Town and the neighboring landowners a prescriptive easement and easement by custom over the beach; and (3) the superior court erred in deciding that the public had a right to engage in ocean-based activities in the intertidal zone pursuant to the public trust doctrine. Remanded.View "Almeder v. Town of Kennebunkport" on Justia Law

Posted in: Real Estate Law