County Superior Court
Plaintiff: Stephen M. Litwin, Esq.
Defendant: Maxford O. Foster, Esq.; Siobhan Stephens-Catala,
the Court is Joseph DeMarco, Ralph DeMarco, and Pamela
Fisette's (collectively, the DeMarcos or Plaintiffs)
Verified Complaint for Declaratory Judgment. Plaintiffs
request that this Court declare that the right of first
refusal provisions found in G.L. 1956 §§ 37-7-3 and
37-7-4 apply only to the portion of real property once taken
from Plaintiffs. The Rhode Island Department of
Transportation (RIDOT) and the State of Rhode Island contend
that such first refusal right applies to the entirety of
surplus land. This Court's jurisdiction is pursuant to
G.L. 1956 § 9-30-1.
the facts in this case go back to the early 1930s, when the
State through its powers of eminent domain and condemnation
began taking land from property owners around the
intersection of Quaker Lane and Ten Rod Road in North
Kingstown, Rhode Island, this Court need only recite those
limited facts which are relevant to the instant matter.
See V. Compl. for Declaratory J. ¶ 5. Between
April 25, 1930 and July 22, 1994, the State acquired land via
eminent domain in order to build a park and ride facility at
the intersection of Route 2 and Route 102 in North Kingstown.
Id. Among such land taken was property owned by
Plaintiffs. Id. at ¶ 6.
park and ride facility operated up until 2016. On December 9,
2016, RIDOT sent a letter via certified mail to Plaintiffs
with the subject line "DISPOSITION OF SURPLUS STATE
LAND." See id. at ¶ 7, Ex. A. The letter
stated in part:
"On April 25, 1930 and July 22, 1994 the Department of
Transportation (RIDOT) acquired land in the Town of North
Kingstown for the construction of the Route 2/102
Intersection. Upon completion of the project a parcel of land
containing 72, 224± Sq. Ft., became surplus to highway
needs and is now available for sale.
. . . .
"Title 37, Chapter 7, Section 3 of the General Laws of
Rhode Island, 1956, as amended, dictates that [Joseph
DeMarco] as its as its [sic] former owner have [sic] first
rights [sic] to purchase the land [available for sale].
"Accordingly, said land is hereby offered to your
client, subject to the approval of the State Properties
Committee and subject to suitable restrictions, for a market
value of $2, 100, 000 (Two Million One Hundred Thousand
Dollars)." Id. at Ex. A.
letter also included four numbered paragraphs, which were
introduced by the phrase "The suitable restrictions
mentioned above are as follow [sic][.]" Id.
Attached to the letter was a "copy of a Purchase and
Sale Agreement executed by RIDOT and TMC New England, LLC,
" the entity interested in acquiring the property.
Id.; see also Ex. B.
response to RIDOT's letter, on December 16, 2016, counsel
for Plaintiffs sent RIDOT a letter stating in part: "It
does not appear to me, anywhere in [§ 37-7-3], that my
client must purchase the 'entire parcel.' To the
contrary, I read the statute to provide my client with the
right to purchase simply the land which was taken from him ...