The State of Rhode Island and the municipality existing within the state have passed laws and regulations to support residential and commercial development that supports the political leaders’ vision for the state. To encourage the development of “traditional, New-England style” villages, municipalities have passed ordinances that incentivize developers to construct and maintain mixed-use developments that include residential housing, community infrastructure, as well as commercially zoned units to support the needs of the residents who live nearby. These developments are sometimes known as “compact village developments,” or CVDs. Existing property owners may not desire mixed-use development in their neighborhood, as 20th Century suburban development does not always exist in harmony with more modern, mixed-use proposals. The Rhode Island Supreme Court recently ruled against a property owner who had been trying to oppose the development of a CVD near his property.
According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the plaintiff has been a property owner near an existing golf course since before the CVD proposal was submitted. A developer submitted plans for a CVD development that would include residential and commercial properties, as well as a renovation of the golf course clubhouse building. Under the applicable municipal ordinances, a CVD development must include “an appropriate proportion of residential to non-residential uses” to be approved. The plaintiff challenged the development plan. The plaintiff’s position was that the renovated clubhouse as well as the proposed commercial development created an inappropriate proportion of commercial to residential properties in the plan.
The plaintiff’s objection to the plan was rejected by the town, and he appealed the decision to the Rhode Island Supreme Court. In evaluating the plaintiff’s claims, the court determined that the improvements on the golf course clubhouse were separate and distinct from the additional new commercial development anticipated in the plans. The court found that the square footage of the clubhouse renovation should not be considered “commercial space” for purposes of the proportion analysis. Based on this determination, the court found no error in the town’s decision to deny the plaintiff’s objection to the project. Without a further appeal and legal action, the plaintiff will be unable to stop the development of the CVD he had challenged.
Managing Conflicts Between Developers, Municipalities, and Property Owners
Are you or a loved one facing issues with a proposed development or construction project? Neighbors, municipal ordinances, and zoning requirements can complicate what could be a simple process. Reaching out to the qualified Rhode Island real estate attorneys at Bilodeau Capalbo can help you develop a realistic appraisal of the issues you are facing. With our advice and counsel, you can confidently approach municipal agencies and courts of law with strong arguments supporting your position. Our Rhode Island property lawyers assist clients in all types of real estate claims, including zoning and permit issues. Contact our offices today and schedule a free consultation by calling 401-300-4055. We will connect you with a senior lawyer who is prepared to answer your questions and provide you with the guidance you need to make the best decision on how to proceed.