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Property Owner Spars with Providence City Government over Electronic Billboard Request

Cities and towns across the state have established laws and regulations to preserve their general aesthetic. The Town of Providence has a rule prohibiting billboards and electronic billboards within municipal borders. Anyone who has been to providence could attest that there are most certainly both billboards and electronic billboards in the city. This is possible because residents and business owners are permitted to apply for a variance from the city to permit the construction of a billboard. The process of applying for and receiving a variance to construct a billboard (or other nonconforming structure) can be complicated and should be carefully planned before being put into action. A Rhode Island Superior Court recently addressed a property owner’s third attempt to construct a billboard on his property.

According to the facts discussed in the recently published judicial opinion, the petitioner in the case is a property owner who sought to construct an electronic billboard on his property. Because such billboards are prohibited under municipal ordinances, he applied for the necessary variances with the city’s zoning board of review. His initial application was approved; however, a neighboring property owner appealed the ruling to the Superior Court, and the approval was reversed. The petitioner applied a second time and was again approved, only for the decision to again be reversed on appeal. The Superior Court noted that their ruling was final and not to be remanded back to the zoning board.

On his third attempt, the petitioner brought in new evidence and an expert to testify to alleviate the court’s previous concerns. He applied to the zoning board of review for a variance but was rejected because the new evidence he sought to offer was presented too late and could not be considered by the board. The board entered a final order denying the petitioner’s application. The petitioner appealed to the Superior Court one last time, but the court found itself bound by the prior decisions and rejected his appeal.

Had the petitioner initially applied for the variances with all of the evidence and experts in hand, the chances of approval may have been greater. Anyone seeking a dimensional or use variance for construction on their property should be prepared adequately from the start to make their case to a municipal board. Failure to bring a strong case from the start can hurt your claim permanently. An experienced Rhode Island real estate attorney can help you make a strong case right out of the gate.

Do You Have Questions About a Rhode Island Real Estate Issue?

If you or a loved one has questions about a Rhode Island construction or real estate issue, the experienced Rhode Island real estate attorneys with Bilodeau Capalbo, LLP want to help. Our qualified Rhode Island property attorneys understand the relevant zoning ordinances and other laws, and we know how to get the results you seek. If you have questions about a Rhode Island easement issue, call us at 401-300-4055 for a free consultation.


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