Appellate Practice: Coastal Property Rights in Kennebunkport
We represented coastal landowners in a high-profile appeal before the Maine Supreme Court, in which the Town of Kennebunkport claimed ownership of Goose Rocks Beach against numerous homeowners whose deeds described property down to the low water mark. The case turned on the interpretation of deeds and legal doctrines dating back to the 1600s, including the original land patents from the English Crown to Sir Fernando Gorges creating the Province of Maine. The Law Court affirmed the Superior Court judgment, finding that title to the disputed beach is held by the town. In doing so, the Court appeared to manifest its growing policy preference for greater public access to Maine’s coast, particularly its sandy beaches. Almeder v. Town of Kennebunkport, 2019 ME 151.
Verrill represents both growers and coastal landowners regarding leasing and licensing of aquaculture enterprises.
Verrill has negotiated and litigated with federal, state, and local entities to resolve violations related to coastal development, including homes, docks, seawalls, shoreland clearing, and commercial fishing operations. We have also negotiated beach management agreements to balance coastal property rights with protection of federal and state endangered species.
FEMA National Flood Insurance Program
Verrill represents and advises waterfront landowners in all aspects of FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program, including appeals of floodplain map designations, permitting structures and other development in mapped floodplains, and negotiation of FEMA insurance rates.
Piers, Seawalls and Sand dunes
We have assisted clients in obtaining federal, state, and local regulatory approvals for seawalls, piers, boat ramps, other water-dependent structures, and dune nourishment projects up and down the coast of Maine.
Shoreland Zone Development and Land Use
Verrill represents landowners and developers in siting structures in the shoreland zone and ensuring compliance with the restrictions that govern shoreland zone clearing and development. We have worked with numerous landowners to resolve enforcement matters related to tree clearing and placement of structures on oceanfront and lakefront properties. We have worked on behalf of developers to get towns to amend their shoreland zoning ordinances to allow development proceed around otherwise prohibitive wetlands.
Environmental & Land Use Law: Protection of Private Coastal Property Rights for Conservation of Intertidal Habitat
Verrill successfully represented coastal landowners in first-impression litigation against a Canadian seaweed harvesting company with global operations to determine who owns the sea plants that are growing on private intertidal property in Maine. In March 2019, the Maine Supreme Court ruled unanimously in our clients’ favor on appeal, holding that the public does not have the right to harvest the seaweed growing on private intertidal property without the landowner’s consent. The case addressed an open question that caused controversy on the Maine coast for decades as the commercial harvest of seaweed increased dramatically. The appeal drew significant public interest and the submission of 13 separate briefs from amici curiae. Ross v. Acadian Seaplants, Ltd., 2019 ME 45, 206 A.3d 283.