County Superior Court Associate WC 12-151 Justice Jeffrey A.
Petitioner: George A. Comolli, Esq.
Respondent: Michael Polak, Esq. Kevin McAlister, Esq.
Present: Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and
issue in this case is the legal propriety of a decision
allowing Todd and Tina Sposato (the Sposatos) to keep four
alpacas on their residential property in Hopkinton (the
property) as pets. The petitioner, Amber Preston, filed a
petition for issuance of a writ of certiorari, which this
Court granted, seeking review of a Washington County Superior
Court judgment, in which the Superior Court justice affirmed
the decision of the Zoning Board of Review of the Town of
Hopkinton (Zoning Board). The Superior Court justice
classified the four alpacas as "pets" and
accordingly declared that keeping them on the property
located in an R-1 zone was a permitted use. Ms. Preston
contends that the Superior Court justice erred when he
"suggested the keeping of alpacas as pets [is] an
accessory use in an R-1 zone." With respect to the
decision of the Zoning Board, Ms. Preston avers that the
Zoning Board "exceeded its authority and abused its
discretion when it made a decision personal to the
reasons set forth in this opinion, we quash the judgment of
the Superior Court. The record shall be remanded to the
Superior Court with our decision endorsed thereon and with
directions to remand the case to the Zoning Board of Review
of the Town of Hopkinton.
23, 2011, the Zoning Officer for the Town of Hopkinton issued
a notice of violation to the Sposatos for their being in
violation of the Hopkinton Zoning Ordinance by virtue of the
fact that they had four alpacas on their property located at
129 North Road in that town; it is undisputed that the
Sposatos had four alpacas on their property. The
Sposatos' property is located in an R-1 zone, and it is
approximately 45, 000 square feet in size. Ms. Preston, the
petitioner, resided in a single-family house at 131 North
Road, which property abuts the Sposatos' property and is
likewise located in an R-1 zone.
Zoning Officer's notice of violation was predicated on
his conclusion that alpacas are "farm animals" or
"[l]ivestock" rather than "domestic
animals"-the former being prohibited in an R-1 zone in
Hopkinton and the latter being permitted in such a zone.
course, the Sposatos appealed the Zoning Officer's notice
of violation to the Zoning Board, which conducted four
hearings late in 2011 and early in 2012. Then, on February 9,
2012, the Zoning Board issued a nine-page decision. By a
majority vote, it overturned the Zoning Officer's ruling
and concluded that alpacas are "domestic animals."
Immediately thereafter, however, and by a separate vote, the
Zoning Board imposed four "conditions" on the
Sposatos with respect to the continued presence of alpacas on
the property.  Those conditions read as follows:
"1. The dimensional setbacks for an R-1 zone shall apply
to the fencing and enclosures;
"2. The alpacas are to be kept one hundred (100) feet