County Superior Court
Plaintiff: John F. Kenyon, Esq.
Defendant: Andrew M. Teitz, Esq. Amy H. Goins, Esq.
the Court is an appeal of a decision from the Zoning Board of
Review of the Town of South Kingstown, Rhode Island (the
Zoning Board). Appellant Jordan Carlson (Carlson) asks the
Court to reverse the Zoning Board's decision concerning
property at 17 Columbia Street, South Kingstown (the
Property). The Zoning Board found that Carlson's medical
marijuana grow operation constituted agricultural products
manufacturing under the South Kingstown Zoning Ordinance, and
it upheld the Building Official's Notice of Violation.
For the following reasons, the Court reverses the Zoning
Property is owned by Campus Cinema, LLC and is located in the
Commercial Downtown (CD) Zoning District in South Kingstown.
The Property was formerly a movie theater, but Carlson
currently rents the premises. He grows marijuana at the
Property, in accordance with his medical marijuana license.
March 12, 2014, the South Kingstown Fire Department responded
to a fire alarm at the Property, and the responding
firefighters found a marijuana grow operation inside the
building. (Police Reports, Appellant App. 9). Subsequently,
police arrived at the Property, and officers spoke with
Carlson, who demonstrated that he was a licensed medical
marijuana patient. Id.
result, on April 8, 2014, Jeffrey O'Hara, the Building
Official and Zoning Enforcement Officer for the Town of South
Kingstown (Building Official), sent a Notice of Violation to
Campus Cinema, LLC. (Notice of Violation, Appellant App. 1).
The Notice of Violation provided as follows:
"It has come to the attention of this office that there
is an agricultural products manufacturing process taking
place at your property on 17 Columbia Street. Be advised that
this is in violation of Section 301, Use Code 74.1, of the
South Kingstown Zoning Ordinance and is prohibited in a CD
Zone. Upon receipt of this Violation Notice, you
must cease this practice within fifteen (15) days.
Failure to do so will result in legal action to be taken
against you and fines may be levied." Id.
(emphasis in original).
April 21, 2014, Carlson appealed the Notice of Violation to
the Zoning Board. (Appeal, Appellant App. 3).
16, 2014, the Zoning Board held a public hearing on the
appeal. At the hearing, the Building Official testified that
the Notice of Violation was a result of the police reports
regarding the March 12, 2014 fire alarm response. (Tr. 6,
July 16, 2014, Appellant App. 5).
Building Official issued the violation based on the police
reports of four officers, and he testified that he did not
enter the building, but rather relied "solely on the
report . . . from the police department." Id.
The police report of Patrolman Andrew S. Hopewood, dated
March 13, 2014, (Police Report) provided as follows:
"Inside one of the old movie theaters that was two doors
north of the building's northwest corner, the marijuana
grow operation was located inside an independent heat
insulated structure. Inside the structure, 15 small to medium
sized healthy marijuana plants were located. No other plants
or seedlings were found. A large number of unused high
powered halogen lights were observed still in their shipping
boxes along with other grow equipment that was not necessary
for this grow site.
"The interior of the old theater and the marijuana grow
were photographed for documentation." (Police Reports,
Appellant App. 9).
other police reports reported similar findings. Id.
Building Official also testified, explaining the reasoning
behind the Notice of Violation:
"I selected Agricultural Products Manufacturing, where
they're taking an agricultural type product, grinding it,
processing it, or whatever they do, to make it a usable
product for the consumer or for whomever is the end user, and
that's what I based my determination on . . . ."
(Tr. 21, July 16, 2014, Appellant App. 10).
agricultural products manufacturing is not permitted in any
zones in the Town of South Kingstown, some agricultural
activities, such as crop farms, are permitted in all
zones. South ...