Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

The Gerald P. Zarrella Trust v. Town of Exeter

Superior Court of Rhode Island

July 19, 2016

THE GERALD P. ZARRELLA TRUST, GERALD P. ZARRELLA, in his capacity as TRUSTEE and GERALD'S FARM, LLC
v.
TOWN OF EXETER, by and through the members of the Town Council, Raymond A Morrissey, JR., in his capacity as President, DANIEL W. PATTERSON, in his capacity as Vice President, KEVIN P. MCGOVERN, ARLENE B. HICKS and CALVIN A. ELLIS

         Washington County Superior Court

          For Plaintiff: William J. Conley, Jr., Esq.

          For Defendant:James P. Marusak, Esq.

          DECISION

          MATOS, J.

         Before this Court is the Gerald P. Zarrella Trust (the Trust), Gerald P. Zarrella, in his capacity as Trustee, and Gerald's Farm, LLC's (collectively the Plaintiffs) request for a declaration pursuant to G.L. 1956 § 9-30-1, et seq. Plaintiffs ask this Court to declare that the 2014 Amendments to the "Right to Farm Act" (the Act) supersede the terms of a prior Consent Judgment between the parties that prohibit the Plaintiffs from conducting commercial events on the Plaintiffs' property located at 270 Narrow Lane in Exeter, Rhode Island (the Property). G.L. 1956 §§ 2-23-1 et seq. For the reasons set forth in this Decision, this Court holds that the Act does not grant the Plaintiffs the rights they seek. Therefore, this Court declines to issue the requested declaration.

          I Facts and Travel

         On or about March 11, 2003, the Plaintiff Trust purchased the Property, a thirty-two acre parcel located at 270 Narrow Lane, in Exeter, Rhode Island (the Town). Verified Compl. at ¶¶ 8-9. The Trust is the current owner of record of the Property. Id. at ¶ 8.

         The Property is in an RU-4 zone. (Stipulated Facts, Mar. 2, 2016.) The Zoning Ordinance explicitly states that any use that is not allowed by the use table is specifically prohibited. Id. The Ordinance has no provision that allows commercial wedding venues, corporate rentals, or commercial event venues in an RU-4 zone. See Exeter Zoning Ordinance, Art. II §§ 2.3.2; 2.4.1.1 et seq. Therefore, wedding venues, corporate rentals, and commercial event venues are not permitted in an RU-4 zone in Exeter pursuant to Exeter's Zoning Ordinance. See id.

         Nonetheless, in 2011, the Plaintiffs began advertising the Property as a commercial wedding and event venue. The Town filed suit seeking to enjoin the Plaintiffs from using the Property as a commercial wedding and event venue, contending that such a use violated the Exeter Zoning Ordinance. See Town of Exeter v. Gerald P. Zarrella Trust, Gerald P. Zarrella, Trust, et al., C.A. No. WC-11-0272.

         On June 7, 2011, the parties entered into an Amended Consent Judgment. The Amended Consent Judgment provided, in pertinent part, that:

"A permanent injunction shall enter against the Trust, permanently enjoining and restraining the Trust, its trustees and their successors, heirs and assigns from using or renting the property located at 270 Narrow Lane, Exeter, Rhode Island, known as Gerald's Farm (the "Property") for weddings for a fee or other commercial events."
"this permanent injunction is intended to, and shall be construed to, run with the land, and be binding upon all Trustee, successors, heirs and assigns of the Trust and its Trustees unless and until such time as and to the extent that the terms of this permanent injunction are superseded by statute, regulation, or other competent administrative or judicial authority or order." (Am. Consent Judgment (emphasis added); Verified Compl. ¶¶ 12-13.)

         The Act was subsequently amended in 2014. The Legislature's express purpose in enacting the Act was "to promote an environment in which agricultural operations are safeguarded against nuisance actions arising out of conflicts between agricultural operations and urban land uses." Sec. 2-23-3.

         The Property has been designated as "farmland" pursuant to G.L. 1956 § 44-27-3. (Stipulated Facts, Mar. 2, 2016.) Since the Amended Consent Judgment was entered, Exeter has not amended its Zoning Ordinance to allow commercial weddings or events venues in an RU-4 zone. Exeter Zoning Ordinance, Art. II §§ 2.3.2; 2.4.1.1. However, the Plaintiffs argue that the amendment to the Act permits commercial events to take place on farms and farmlands even if local zoning would not permit such events, and thus, the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.