This case is the fifth Supreme Court case in the last fifteen years by “frequent flyer” Frank Griswold against the City of Homer on land use and zoning. In it he filed a notice of appeal of the Homer Advisory Planning Commission’s grant of a conditional-use permit to a mariculture association to construct an “8,373 square foot two-story structure using the existing platform at 3851 Homer Spit Road.
The city clerk rejected his appeal for lack of standing because Griswold did not show that the permitted action would have an adverse effect on the use, enjoyment, or value of his property, and because Griswold’s interests were not distinct from those of the general public. Griswold appealed to the superior court which affirmed. On May 14, 2009, the superior court issued its “Decision of Appeal.” On December 16, 2009 the superior court issued “Final Judgment” dismissing the case and awarding attorney’s fees and costs. On December 23, 2009 Griswold filed his appeal to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court discusses in some detail the provisions of the Homer City Code in relation to the rules on standing and finds them in compliance. Perhaps more important to appellate practice is the finding that the appeal to the Supreme Court was not timely under Appellate Rule 204(a)(1) requiring the appeal to be filed within thirty days of the judgment appealed from. When the superior court is sitting as an intermediate appellate court, Appellate Rule 507(a) applies which states that “[t]he opinion of the appellate court…shall constitute its judgment.” The Supreme Court further points out that Civil Rule 58 regarding judgments does not apply since the superior court is not acting as a trial court.
The appeal is allowed by relaxing the rule primarily because, even though experienced, Griswold is still a pro se litigant. The Court further states that “[T]he application of Appellate Rule 204(a)(1) in the present case might have confused even a law-trained individual.” (We have been warned.)