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Board OKs Bear Hill condos, new plan for Nate Whipple complex

By ETHAN SHOREY, Valley Breeze Managing Editor

CUMBERLAND – The Cumberland Planning Board last Wednesday unanimously approved plans for two projects: a condo proposal on Bear Hill Road and a mixed-use complex on Nate Whipple Highway.

The board approved a preliminary plan for a major land development at 80 Bear Hill Road, where applicant Waterman Homestead and Irene Schmitt, wife of Town Councilor Scott Schmitt, will build 14 new condos to replace a single home.

Jonathan Stevens, director of planning and community development, said neighbors on Standring Street seemed to appreciate how the developer listened to their concerns, especially on landscaping buffers and traffic/pedestrian safety.

Representatives for the developer made a “noble gesture” by agreeing to install a sidewalk along the front of the property abutting the road, said Stevens, a step they did not have to take.

Neighborhood residents have repeatedly asked for sidewalks on the dangerous Bear Hill Road, noted Stevens, and the section at 80 Bear Hill could be a first step.

“It may be the first of others,” said Stevens.

The condo proposal has been a controversial one due to the fact that it’s surrounded by single-family homes.

Also approved last Wednesday was a second master plan from developer Jim McKee and Terrapin Development for a mixed-use commercial and residential complex at 10 Nate Whipple Highway, the McLaughlin & Moran property.

The plan, unlike the first one approved by the board in June, calls for maintaining and renovating four of the buildings on the property instead of razing them, as well as erecting two new buildings, one for commercial use and another for residential.

The first master plan approved in June was conditional on the Zoning Board of Review granting relief to allow commercial and residential uses in separate buildings. Since the matter is still tied up in court, the original master plan hasn’t taken effect. With the new plan now approved, and if McKee is granted the necessary relief in court, the developer will have to choose which of the plans to move forward with, since “you can’t have two master plans,” said Stevens.

Town officials are also now working “to create another avenue” for McKee if he ends up losing in court, a possible comprehensive plan amendment stimulating redevelopment of this property and others suffering from neglect or incomplete development.

Read the full article on The Valley Breeze website.

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Court orders Poirier to pay attorney fees

By Jackie Roman, Valley Breeze & Observer Staff Writer

SMITHFIELD – Concluding a lengthy legal battle over former Town Council member Richard Poirier’s Stillwater Road property, a judge has ordered Poirier to pay nearly $30,000 of attorneys’ fees.

The initial complaint was filed by CVDDI LLC, an abutter of Poirier’s property, in October of 2014.

The company claimed that “Poirier maintains a junkyard” and the plaintiff’s property has sustained damage and diminished in value “as a direct result of the Poirier’s continued operation of the junkyard.”

At the time of the filing, Poirier was running for re-election to the Town Council and filed a counterclaim in December 2015.

In that document, Poirier argued “the complaint was filed with and for an ulterior motive and was shared with (local press) where a story appeared placing defendant Richard Poirier in a negative light just days before the election.”

Poirier requested a judgment for damages against him and an award for costs and attorney fees.

In November 2016, after the company had already sold its property at a reduced sale price, CVDDI filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Poirier’s counterclaim is barred by Rhode Island’s anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) statute, which protects the right to exercise petition or free speech.

“Poirier undeniably filed his counterclaim in an effort to chill plaintiff’s efforts to exercise its constitutional right to file suit against Poirier,” the document reads.

In June, Superior Court Judge Maureen Keough sided with CVDDI and eliminated Poirier’s counterclaim as a violation of the anti-SLAPP statute.

And on Sept. 29, Keough granted the plaintiffs’ motion for award of attorneys’ fees, totaling $30,000.

Poirier’s Stillwater Road property was also the subject of a Municipal Court case.

The town first alleged in 2014 that Poirier’s property was in violation of several Rhode Island housing maintenance and occupancy codes.

Poirier was cited by building and zoning officials for storing numerous inoperative or unlicensed cars, boats, equipment, and trailers, along with various debris, including scrap wood, metal, and auto parts.

The case concluded on July 20 when Poirier was issued a $500 fine.

Read the full article on The Valley Breeze website.

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Solar array proposal moves to public hearing

Undeveloped land on George Washington Highway could become home to 11,000 solar panels

By BRITTANY BALLANTYNE, Valley Breeze Staff Writer

LINCOLN – Lincoln Planning Board members gave the go-ahead for a public hearing later this month on an 11,000-panel solar array proposed for a site off Route 116.

At the hearing, which had not yet been scheduled as of press time, representatives from Green Development LLC are expected to address any concerns about noise, solar panel function, safety and buffers around the lot at 600 George Washington Highway, which is currently an undeveloped, wooded area.

At the Sept. 27 Planning Board meeting, Town Planner Albert Ranaldi said the plans call for development of 9.8 acres of land on a 15-acre parcel behind a commercial complex that houses Enn Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar on Route 116, by the Smithfield town line.

Michelle Carpenter, chief operating officer at Green Development, said that through tangible taxes, the solar array would yield $12,500 for the town in its first year of operation, and over 25 years, would bring in a total of more than $300,000 in tax revenue.

She said the development requires no use of town water, and would not burden the town with funds needed to accommodate additional students in Lincoln Public Schools, as opposed to residential developments.

After the meeting, Carpenter told The Breeze that Green Development had not yet reached out to any municipalities or organizations about partnering for energy credits.

Last year, the Town Council voted to approve a 25-year net metering finance agreement between Quality Drive LLC and Lincoln, allowing the town to receive money from energy credits from another solar farm that saw approval last year on commercial land near Quality Drive, off New England Drive in the industrial park.

The move was expected to bring in $10,000 annually, in addition to energy credits, which are worth roughly $55,000.

At last week’s meeting, Carpenter told board members the developers would enter a lease with the land owner for at least 25 years, for a “temporary use of property,” and said developers are obligated to restore the land to its original state once the lease ends, by leveling and seeding the area.

Planning Board members advised the developers to come prepared at the public hearing ready to explain what level of noise would be produced from 11,000 solar panels and associated systems, discuss fencing around the area and prove with written correspondence that the development was considered safe by Lincoln public safety officials. Carpenter said Green Development has created noise maps.

Nicholas Goodier, the attorney representing the project, said given the property’s close proximity to Route 295 and Route 116, “I’d err on the side of being able to easily confirm ambient noise from those two highways would be higher” than the noise produced by the solar array.

He also told Planning Board members the developers would come to the public hearing later this month with information explaining that.

Asked by member Jeffrey DelGrande if the company would monitor the noise level, Carpenter said the company would conduct site visits if high levels of noise were reported. If this were the case, she said, it would mean solar array components weren’t working properly.

The tempered glass panels, Carpenter said, can continue to perform if they are cracked, hence one of the reasons Green Development conducts visual inspections each year. The company remotely monitors the system, she said, and automated alerts are sent to Green Development if there be any problems with the system’s performance.

Since there is little to no maintenance needed at the site, she said, the property would be visited once or twice a year for snow removal and cutting grass at the site. At that time, she explained, company employees would check to ensure all panels, tilted and less than 12 feet off the ground at the highest point, were in good condition.

Wednesday, Oct. 3, the Zoning Board of Review was expected to hear a proposal for a special use permit for the solar farm, and later this month, the Planning Board will meet once more to review the project and hear from residents at the public hearing.

Read the full article on The Valley Breeze website.

Erik Edsen Joins Kelly & Mancini

K&M would like to introduce the newest Associate to their team, Attorney Erik Edson.

Erik earned his Juris Doctorate Degree from Roger Williams University School of Law in 2016, and passed the Massachusetts and Rhode Island Bar Exams the same year.  While at Roger Williams, Erik pursued a variety of internships, including with the law school’s Criminal Defense Clinic, the Rhode Island Public Defender, the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights, and as a judicial extern for the Honorable Patricia A. Sullivan, United States Magistrate Judge.  He also was an articles editor for the Roger Williams University Law Review and was recipient of the Anne Hutchinson Scholarship and multiple CALI Awards.  Erik achieved his B.S. in political science from UMASS Amherst in 2006.  Prior to law school, Erik managed the content and member services for the now-defunct social media site Gather.com.   

K&M is excited to welcome Erik to their growing team of tenacious commercial and civil litigators.   

Andrew Saunders Joins Kelly & Mancini

K&M is eager to introduce to their Commercial & Civil Litigation Team Attorney Andrew Saunders, who will be leading the launch of their New Bedford Office. 

Andrew has over 25 years of experience representing clients in a wide range of matters, from general litigation to complex commercial transactions.  He has handled civil, criminal and admiralty matters in numerous jurisdictions in the US, while also being directly responsible for overseeing complex commercial disputes in London, Singapore, Kazakhstan and Mexico as General Counsel to a large international marine construction company and vessel equipment rental concern. 

Andrew earned his BS degree in Finance from UMASS Dartmouth in 1988 and his Juris Doctorate degree from Suffolk University in 1992.   He is a member of the Maritime Law Association of the United States (Proctor status) and a member of the New Bedford Bar Association.   

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560,000 Pound Truck Stopped in Rhode Island Since June Gets Permit to Leave

Monday, July 10, 2017
GoLocalProv News Team and Kate Nagle

A truck stuck on Route 4 in Rhode Island since the end of June, that was stopped for carrying an oversized load, has finally been issued a permit to resume travel, according to the truck company’s attorney Michael Kelly.

Kelly represents Bay Crane Northeast, who was operating the truck that was carrying a load weighing 560,000 pounds from Quonset to be delivered in Massachusetts — which Kelly said the company believed had the proper permits to travel.

“The permit was finally issued at 4 p.m. [on Monday] after a bit of negotiation since Friday. It is leaving tonight at 7 with permit and a revised route,” said Kelly. “In fact, we executed an agreement with the [Rhode Island Department of Transportation] applicable to not just this trip but other loads they have leaving from Quonset. They have substantial loads they have to transport.”

At 560,000 pounds, the trucks weight is seven times heavier than normally allowed to pass over state bridges wihout a permit.

Fee Costs, Administrative Issues

“We also want to have a discussion in regard to how the DOT and [Quonset Development Corporation] can seek to cooperate, with lines of communication open to larger loads like this from Quonset. The state spent a lot of money on [the Quonset] facility, and to use it properly, users have to count on a reliable and speedy way to transport [loads],” said Kelly.

“The truck was stopped June 27 on their way from Quonset. I can’t say exactly where they were, but they did have a State Police escort with them,” said Kelly. “The left under the impression that everything was OK. We followed the normal procedures that we have in the past for large loads — we were under the impression the permit was in order.”

Kelly said that Bay Crane agreed to pay the “usual permit fee,” as well as money to the DOT, who had inspected the bridges the truck had crossed prior to being stopped.

“The company, in an effort to resolve this in an amicable way, agreed to pay money towards the costs DOT incurred in analyzing and checking the bridges before they were stopped,” said Kelly. “The $60,000 is what we agreed to pay the DOT in an effort to resolve the matter — and we were under enormous pressure to get this resolved.”

“We’re just looking for the process to be more user friendly,” said Kelly. “We have an enormous amount of equipment down there. We pay $15,000 down there a month just to store equipment. The company employs 50 people — all union, and are making a substantial investment purchasing a larger property.”

Read the full article on GoLocalProv

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Neighborhood beginning to build up beyond flood waters

July 9, 2017

The Newport Daily News

By Marcia Pobzeznik | Correspondent

TIVERTON — The tomato plants and the wire cages that held them were ripped from the garden in Madeline Dessert’s side yard by the sea churned up by Hurricane Bob in 1991. They ended up in Augusto Desa’s basement across the street.

Dessert’s living room wall that faces the water was knocked down. A boulder that Desa estimates weighed five tons sat in the middle of the room, deposited by the ocean water that rose over the cliff and sent waves crashing over the roof of the cottage Dessert has summered in for decades.

Desa stayed in his house to watch the storm through a hole he had cut in plywood that covered a window that faces the ocean. He was one of a few in the High Hill area of town who stayed put during that damaging hurricane.

Pictures taken by some teens who also stayed behind show waves crashing as high as the telephone pole near her house, said Dessert, who still has a yard facing the ocean because she had a sea wall built there in the late 1970s. A lot next to her’s that doesn’t have a sea wall has eroded at least five feet since 2000.

Residents who have lived in the High Hill area, which is in the extreme south end of town, south of Fogland Beach and just a stone’s throw from the Little Compton line, have felt the brunt of storms over the years.

That’s why some of the newcomers who want to make the area their year-round home are knocking down and building up to comply with Federal Emergency Management Agency construction standards for homes in flood zones.

Residents who have been there for decades know their quaint neighborhood that was once all single-story summer cottages and shacks will change as homeowners who undertake major renovations will have to build higher to comply with FEMA regulations.

Many of them crowded into Town Hall recently for a variance hearing on a neighbor’s request to knock down his cottage and build a two-story, 1,500-square-foot home on the same footprint on a 3,500-square-foot lot at 24 Shore Road. The main floor will be at least 10 feet off the ground, or about 23 feet above the water that on most days is calm. The ground floor will have breakaway walls that will let the water from a storm surge pass through.

“It won’t be quaint little houses anymore,” said Rick Soares who has spent the past 35 summers there. He and many others at the meeting told the board they support the change.

Building Inspector Neil Hall told the board he was one of many inspectors who were called to the Misquamicut area of Westerly after Hurricane Sandy. “Some houses were moved three or four streets away,” Hall said. “The only one left standing looked like this,” he said of the raised house. “It opened up my eyes to how we are susceptible to this. Tiverton is half waterfront.”

“There are a number of other people in town contemplating this,” Hall said. “FEMA is driving it. The building code says it has to be brought up to FEMA standards, no questions,” if it’s in a flood zone and 49 percent or more of the property is going to be renovated.

Hall said the state Emergency Management Agency goes through the town’s building files once a year and pulls out waterfront project applications to ensure the regulations are being followed. “FEMA’s not going to pay you out if you’re not permitted,” said Hall.

There were detractors to John and Marcy Scaduto’s request for variances for their project.

Tracie and George Fountas of Andover, Massachusetts, who own a one-story summer cottage at 10 Shore Road, said in a letter to the board that allowing building closer to the road in the already congested neighborhood and razing the old cottage to build a larger one “goes against what drew us to this area in the first place and will allow this area to lose its quaint cottage charm.”

Kimberley Waltz and Elaine Barboza, are co-owners of a three-story home at 18 Shore Road and a one-story summer cottage at 19 Shore Road. Barboza also has a two-story home at 21 Barbara St. and two small vacant lots on Shore Road. They hired attorney Frank Lombardi who tried to dissuade the board from approving the variances.

“It’s just a matter of time before everyone builds buildings this way,” board member David Collins said. “The buildings are getting older,” he said of the cottages that were built in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, and will eventually have to be renovated or replaced.

Board member Wendy Taylor Humphrey said many people are building bigger and better, but the Scadutos “went through all the right hoops and followed the rules.”

One other house in the neighborhood was also built using flood-resistant construction, Hall said.

If Dessert ever has the kind of damage she had from Hurricane Bob, she said she’ll have to do the same. Pieces from board games were scattered on the road after the storm, she said of how the water ripped things apart and carried them away. Two houses just down the road ended up in the creek, she said.

Her family was among the first to buy the small lots in the High Hill neighborhood in the 1940s, when the former Tremaine Estate, known for growing peas, was subdivided into 50-by-50-foot lots and sold for $500 each, she said.

Her house at 35 Shore Road used to be the High Hill Social Club building where the summer residents would gather. They still do on occasion.

Read the full article on The Newport Daily News



Kelly & Mancini secures successful R.I. Supreme Court appeal

Rhode Island Supreme Court

May 25, 2017

Kelly & Mancini attorney, Randall Souza, helped lead a successful appeal in R.I. Supreme Court in the case of Joanne C. Miller v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. et al., (No. 2016-71-Appeal). Souza served as local counsel for Seyfarth Shaw’s Boston office and co-presented the oral argument.

Read the full opion.

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Connecticut company subject to contract claim in R.I.

Demolition of restaurant in Foxwoods spurs action

Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly

May 18, 2017

By: Tom Egan

An out-of-state construction company could be sued in Rhode Island after backing out of an agreement to renovate a restaurant at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut, a U.S. magistrate judge has ruled. The plaintiff tenant of the restaurant space contended that the out-of-state defendant’s business presence in Rhode Island was sufficient for the exercise of general jurisdiction.

Read the full article on the Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly website (subscription required)