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Mitola v. Providence Public Buildings Authority

Superior Court of Rhode Island, Providence

September 12, 2019

V. GEORGE MITOLA and CAROL A. MITOLA
v.
PROVIDENCE PUBLIC BUILDINGS AUTHORITY

          For Plaintiff: Jeffrey B. Pine, Esq.

          For Defendant: Mal A. Salvadore, Esq.; Thomas C. Angelone, Esq.

          DECISION

          TAFT-CARTER, J.

         Before this Court for decision is V. George Mitola and Carol A. Mitola's (collectively, Petitioners) Petition for Assessment of Damages pursuant to G.L. 1956 § 45-50-13. Petitioners ask that this Court decide the appropriate damages to be assessed against Respondent Providence Public Buildings Authority (PPBA) resulting from the condemnation of Petitioners' development rights with respect to approximately sixty-seven acres of land (the Property). The Property, owned by Petitioners, is designated by the Town of Scituate Tax Assessor as Map 38, Lot 1. Jurisdiction is pursuant to Section 45-50-13[1] and Super. R. Civ. P. 52.

         I

         Findings of Fact

         This matter arises from a dispute over just compensation for an interest in the development rights of land acquired by PPBA from Petitioners on March 9, 2012. The parties agree that the highest and best use of the Property is an eight-lot subdivision. Petitioners maintain that just compensation for the development rights of this subdivision amounts to $685, 000, while Respondent asserts that just compensation is $492, 000.

         This Court, sitting without a jury, heard testimony at trial. After assessing the credibility of the witnesses and weighing all of the evidence presented, this Court makes the following findings of fact.

         A

         The Property

         Mr. Mitola and his wife acquired approximately sixty-seven acres of undeveloped land in Scituate, Rhode Island in May 2002 for the sum of $325, 000. Trial Tr. (Tr.) 3-4, Apr. 3, 2018. At the time of the purchase, the Petitioners intended to subdivide the Property. Id. at 5. They considered retaining four lots for their family and selling the remaining lots. Id. at 5-6. The Petitioners eventually built their residence at 21 Country View Lane, Scituate, Rhode Island, and currently live there with their two daughters. Id. at 3.

         Petitioners undertook various steps in order to subdivide the property, including swapping a portion of land with a neighbor to obtain appropriate frontage. This enabled them to comply with the Town of Scituate zoning regulations. Additionally, Petitioners sought and obtained Planning Commission approval of a subdivision plan. The approved subdivision plan contained eight lots; Lot 1 includes the 4360 sq. ft. single family residence with 35 acres while Lots 2-8 vary in size. Id. at 4-6.

         John Caito Corporation (Caito) was retained to assist in the various zoning and planning issues. Caito designed the plat, road, and infrastructure for the catch basins and detention pond. Id. at 7. [2] [3] Gerry Parrillo was also hired to assist in the construction of a road connecting Country View Lane to the residence. Id. at 8-10.

         During the construction period, Mr. Mitola received a request from Rich Blodgett of the PPBA asking to acquire the development rights of the subject property. Id. at 10. Mr. Mitola informed Mr. Blodgett that he did not intend to sell the development rights. Id. at 11. As a result, the PPBA, pursuant to Section 45-50-13 (a)(6), commenced eminent domain proceedings. Id.

         B

         Testimony Regarding Valuation

         1

         E. Jenny K. Flanagan

         E. Jenny K. Flanagan, Vice President at Keystone Consulting Group (Keystone), testified regarding the valuation of the Property. Ms. Flanagan is licensed as a General Certified Appraiser in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut and has performed approximately 400 appraisals over the past ...


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