County Superior Court
Plaintiff: Michael J. McEntee, Esq.
Defendant: Peter D. Ruggiero, Esq.
Rubine, J. JUSTICE/MAGISTRATE:
the Court is an appeal of a decision from the Zoning Board of
Review of the City of Warwick, Rhode Island (the Zoning
Board). Appellants Steven Clarke, Trustee, Patricia Smith,
and Bruce Smith (collectively, Appellants) ask the Court to
set aside the Zoning Board's decision concerning property
at 108 Airport Road in the City of Warwick. For the following
reasons, the Court vacates the Zoning Board's decision
and remands the case for further proceedings.
own the 108 Airport Road property that is the subject of this
controversy. The property contains two buildings: a residence
and a garage. Appellants operated a home business out of the
garage in conformity with applicable residential zoning
ordinances. But, in 2014 they sought a use variance from the
Zoning Board, seeking to convert the garage into a full-time
office. At the time of the 2014 variance petition, Appellants
resided in the property. After a hearing on the matter in
which testimony and evidence was presented, both from
Appellants and from abutting landowners, the Zoning Board
issued a decision approving the use variance. Zoning Board R.
Ex. C2, Decision of the Zoning Board, Petition #10121 (May
20, 2014) (hereinafter 2014 Decision).
2015, Appellants petitioned the Zoning Board for an amendment
to the 2014 approval, to approve an alternative parking plan.
In all material respects the instant application is identical
to the mixed-use request in 2014, save for the alternative
parking schematic. Appellants also no longer reside on the
premises and seek to rent the residential property, but this
does not appear to alter the mixed use approved in 2014, as
it remains split between residential and commercial uses.
Apparently, the Zoning Board used this new application to
revisit the conclusion reached in 2014, and the result was to
deny the mixed use that had previously been approved. The
Zoning Board treated this new application as a petition for a
new use variance and voted to deny it, resulting in the
denial of the previously-approved mixed use at the 108
Airport Road property.
was not their intention to seek reversal of the 2014
Decision, Appellants ask the Court to reverse or vacate this
Court's review of decisions from a zoning board is
limited as prescribed by statute:
"(d) The court shall not substitute its judgment for
that of the zoning board of review as to the weight of the
evidence on questions of fact. The court may affirm the
decision of the zoning board of review or remand the case for
further proceedings, or may reverse or modify the decision if
substantial rights of the appellant have been ...