Posted by: Patricia Salkin | July 4, 2016

RI Supreme Court Holds Fire District Improperly Imposed Impact Fees

In 2002 the Board of Fire Commissioners of the East Greenwich Fire District (fire district) adopted a resolution imposing development impact fees on developers who applied for a building permit to develop land within the Town of East Greenwich. Five corporate plaintiffs sued the fire district and the Town of East Greenwich, alleging that the defendants’ imposition and collection of development impact fees pursuant to this resolution violated Rhode Island’s Development Impact Fee Act (RIDIFA), G.L. 1956 chapter 22.4 of title 45. A hearing justice of the Superior Court resolved the case on cross-motions for summary judgment and entered judgment in favor of the defendants. On appeal, the plaintiffs argued that the defendants had not had the authority to impose development impact fees. In the alternative, they contended that, even if the defendants had had the requisite authority to impose the fees, the process by which they imposed the fees was deficient and the fees were therefore not properly collected.

The Supreme Court held that it was not required to examine the exact parameters of the fire district’s authority to impose the development impact fees because the fire district no longer existed as an independent corporate municipal entity; rather, its charter had been revoked and it became a subordinate agency of the Town of East Greenwich. The Supreme Court also held that the resolution imposing the development impact fees was in violation of RIDIFA’s strict mandate that the impact fees be imposed through an ordinance and that there was no genuine issue of material fact that the fire district had not followed the Town of East Greenwich’s regulations regarding the procedures for adopting a new ordinance. Accordingly, the Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the Superior Court and remanded the case to the Superior Court with instructions to enter judgment in favor of the plaintiffs.

5750 Post Road Medical Offices, LLC et al. v. East Greenwich Fire District et al., 138 A.3d 163 (RI 4/26/2016)

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