DOROTHY ANN GIRARD, MIGUEL MILICH, and JOAN MILICH, Plaintiffs/Appellants
THE ZONING BOARD OF THE TOWN OF BARRINGTON, and LINDA BURTON, Defendants/Appellees
County Superior Court
Plaintiff: John R. Bernardo, III, Esq.
Defendant: Stephanie L. Federico, Esq. Michael A. Ursillo,
Esq. Amy H. Goins, Esq.
TAFT-CARTER, MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
remand, this matter is before the Court for decision on the
appeal of Plaintiffs-Dorothy Ann Girard, Miguel Milich, and
Joan Milich-of the March 10, 2015 decision of the Zoning
Board of the Town of Barrington, which approved the request
of Defendant Linda Burton (Defendant, Applicant, or Appellee)
for dimensional variances for her property at 296
Narragansett Avenue in Barrington, Rhode Island. The Zoning
Board of the Town of Barrington and Applicant (Defendants or
Appellees) opposed the appeal of the decision. On November 2,
2015, this Court remanded the matter to the Zoning Board of
the Town of Barrington for further proceedings. Jurisdiction
is pursuant to G.L. 1956 § 45-24-69.
the owner of the property located at 296 Narragansett Avenue
in Barrington, submitted an application to the Town of
Barrington for dimensional variances on January 14, 2015. The
structures at 296 Narragansett Avenue, Plat 1, Lot 281 are a
736 square foot single- family residence with a 644 square
foot detached garage. R. at 9, 12. The residence currently
has two bedrooms, one bathroom, a living area, and a kitchen.
Applicant sought to raise the garage roof to make a
second-floor living space over the garage and connect said
living space to the current residence.
seeks relief from Section 185-17 of the Barrington Zoning
Ordinance, which pertains to dimensional, area, and lot
coverage requirements. The application requested dimensional
variances for exceeding 1) front yard setback; 2) side yard
setback; 3) rear yard setback; 4) lot coverage; and 5)
construction within 100 feet of any water body. Id.
at 17, 21. The home and garage, built in 1915, are
nonconforming structures. The sole increase in the request is
related to the lot coverage-from 35.8% to 37.7%. Id.
at 18. This increase resulted from the building of a
"breezeway" that would connect the current living
space to the proposed living space to be built above the
garage. Id. at 9. Relief was also sought from
Section 185-22 of the Barrington Zoning Ordinance, which
provides that "no building, structure or sign may be
located . . . within 200 feet in the case of flowing water
bodies in excess of 10 feet in width as provided by the state
Freshwater Wetlands Act, " as her property "is
approximately one hundred and twelve (112') feet from the
nearest body of water." Id. at 21.
addition to her application, Defendant attached a 200-foot
radius map, a list of abutters, and the proposed plan for the
additions to the existing structures. Id. at 14, 16,
24. Defendant also provided a narrative with the application
explaining her medical issues resulting from psoriatic
arthritis that result in her inability, at times, to climb
stairs or walk. Defendant's treating physician
recommended that she live in a one-story house. Id.
at 17-18. A diagram of the residence (existing and proposed)
illustrates that as the garage is below the grade of
residence, and the proposed construction above the garage
will be on the same level as the current residence, the
proposed structure will have all living space on one level
(as now). Id. at 28-30. Defendant further attached a
note from a physician, Mark C. Fisher, MD, MPH, of
Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, confirming her
diagnosis. Id. at 23.
Zoning Board of the Town of Barrington (Zoning Board) held a
public hearing on February 19, 2015 and approved the
application with a vote of five to zero (5-0). At the
hearing, several people testified in favor of the
application. Defendant's attorney, Ms. Stephanie
Federico, explained Applicant's medical issues caused by
psoriatic arthritis, and she also explained the proposed
construction. She stated that Applicant's condition was
worsening, and climbing stairs was becoming increasingly
difficult. She also noted that if the application were
approved, all of the living space would (as it is now) be on
one level, and she opined that the proposed addition would
make the residence more similar to other residences in the
area. Tr. 4:16-7:1, Feb. 19, 2015. David Boyce of the Rhode
Island Conservation Commission testified on behalf of the
Conservation Commission. He expressed support for the
application, with the condition that the building materials
are to be permitted only on the Narragansett Street side of
the property. He stated that at their last meeting, the
Conservation Commission unanimously approved Defendant's
application. Id. at 12:22-13:3. Additionally, a
neighbor of the Applicant, Janice Lee Kelly, testified that
the proposed construction would not alter the general
character of the neighborhood. Id. at 36:4-38:15.
Specifically, she stated that the proposed addition would be
"in keeping both in scale and in style with the
character of both the house and the neighborhood."
Id. at 37:22-24.
Zoning Board also heard from opponents of the application.
Robert Healy, attorney for the Plaintiffs, argued that the
expansion would inhibit the views and privacy of the
neighbors, because the expansion is upward in a neighborhood
where many of the residences do not conform to setback
requirements and are thus in closer proximity than those
normally found in a residential area. Id. at
24:7-35:25. Plaintiff Girard testified to her concerns about
her view being obstructed and her privacy being infringed
because the proposed additional living space would be
adjacent to her bedroom. Id. at 45:10-48:21. Another
neighbor, Sandra Wyatt, testified as to her concerns that the
construction would be in close proximity to Narragansett Bay,
and that it would impair the Girards' light and privacy
because the proposed additional living space would be in
close proximity to the Girards' residence. Id.
Zoning Board issued its decision on March 10, 2015 and
incorporated the minutes of the meeting as findings of fact.
Plaintiffs filed a timely appeal on March 30, 2015. The
Zoning Board and Applicant filed separate objections to the
December 18, 2015, the Zoning Board rendered a decision that
contained findings of facts and conclusions of law in
accordance with the statutory provisions of § 45-24-69.
This decision was recorded in the Town of Barrington land
evidence records on December 21, 2015, and a copy was sent to