G.B. DONUTS OF RHODE ISLAND, INC.
JOHN MCCOY, CARL ZOUBRA, PETER VOSDAGALIS, ROBERT CHAPUT, EDMOND M. MCGRATH, P. RYAN ANTROP, and NICHOLAS GOODIER, in their capacities as members of the Town of Cumberland Zoning Board of Review; BRIAN SILVIA, in his capacity as the Town of Cumberland's Finance Director; and COLBEA ENTERPRISES, LLC
Michael A. Kelly, Esq. For Plaintiff
Scott J. Partington, Esq.; James A. Hall, Esq.; Hamza Chaudary, Esq.; John T. Gannon, Esq.; Joel J. Votolato, Esq. For Defendant
Appellee Colbea Enterprises, LLC (Colbea) moves to dismiss the amended complaint of Appellant G.B. Donuts of Rhode Island, Inc. (G.B. Donuts) for lack of standing, pursuant to Super. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The underlying complaint is an appeal from a decision of Appellee the Town of Cumberland Zoning Board of Review (Board), granting Colbea four special use permits. Appellant objects to the motion. For the reasons stated herein, this Court grants Appellee's motion.
Facts and Travel
Chapel Four Corners, LLC is the owner of real property with a mailing address of 2084 Diamond Hill Road, Cumberland, Rhode Island, which property is a portion of 2086 Diamond Hill Road, Cumberland, Rhode Island, Assessor's Plat 21, Lot 4. Compl. ¶ 1. G.B. Donuts leases this property and operates a business on the land. Id. G.B. Donuts' business is located diagonally across the street from—and is within two hundred feet of—2095 Diamond Hill Road, Cumberland, Rhode Island, Assessor's Plat 21, Lot 490 (Property). Id. at ¶¶ 1, 11. Such Property, owned by Colbea, is the subject of the underlying complaint.
On November 13, 2013, the Board held a hearing regarding Colbea's application for four special use permits for the Property. Id. at ¶¶ 13-14. Specifically, Colbea sought to operate a car wash, fast food restaurant, drive-through, and gas station on the Property. Id. at ¶ 14. At the hearing, the Board heard testimony from witnesses who both supported and opposed the applications. Id. at ¶ 15. Representatives of G.B. Donut testified in opposition to the applications based on the "detrimental impact to the area" and the property which they leased. Id. The Board granted Colbea's applications for all four special use permits and issued a written decision on the matter on January 13, 2014. G.B. Donuts timely appealed the Board's decision on February 3, 2014.
Standard of Review
In determining whether to grant a motion to dismiss pursuant to Super. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), this Court "assume[s] the allegations contained in the complaint to be true and view[s] the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs." Woonsocket School Committee v. Chafee, 89 A.3d 778, 787 (R.I. 2014). "'Because the sole function of a motion to dismiss is to test the sufficiency of the complaint, [this Court's] review is confined to the four corners of that pleading.'" Mendes v. Factor, 41 A.3d 994, 1000 (R.I. 2012) (quoting Barrette v. Yakavonis, 966 A.2d 1231, 1233 (R.I. 2009)). A motion to dismiss is only granted "'when it is clear beyond a reasonable doubt that the plaintiff would not be entitled to relief under any set of facts that could be proven in support of the claim.'" Chariho Regional School Dist. v. Gist, 91 A.3d 783, 787 (R.I. 2014) (quoting Siena v. Microsoft Corp., 796 A.2d 461, 463 (R.I. 2002)).
It is an issue of first impression for this Court whether a lessee has standing to appeal the decision of a zoning board granting special use permits to the owner of a nearby property. While it is uncontested that "[a]n aggrieved party may appeal a decision of the zoning board of review, " it is less clear who qualifies as such a party. G.L. 1956 ¶ 45-24-69(a). Under the statute, an "aggrieved party" includes "(i) Any person or persons or entities who can demonstrate that their property will be injured by a decision of any officer or agency responsible for administering the zoning ordinance of a city or town; or (ii) Anyone requiring notice pursuant to this chapter." Sec. 45-24-31(4) (emphasis added). Those requiring notice pursuant to the statute are defined as "all owners of ...