Posted by: Patricia Salkin | April 13, 2021

RI Supreme Court Finds No Substantial Evidence in the Record to Support Denial of Special Use Permit

The Court issued a writ of certiorari to review a Superior Court judgment affirming a decision by the Town of Charlestown Zoning Board of Review, denying the application of the plaintiff, New Castle Realty Company, for a special use permit and a dimensional variance to build a house and install a septic system on a preexisting nonconforming lot located on Timber Ridge Road in Charlestown, Rhode Island. On certiorari, the plaintiff argued that the trial justice (1) erred by searching the record for factual findings after determining that the zoning board failed to enumerate specific findings of fact as required by G.L. 1956 § 45 24 61(a); (2) misapplied the law and abused his discretion by accepting the zoning board’s unsupported conclusions and affirming the denial of the special use permit; and (3) erred in finding that the requested dimensional variance was not the least relief necessary.

The Supreme Court first held that it was satisfied that the record contained sufficient findings to enable judicial review. The Court next held that substantial evidence did not exist in the record to support either the zoning board’s decision to deny the special use permit nor the trial justice’s ruling to affirm the same.  Finally, the Court held that the trial justice did not err in finding that the requested dimensional variance did not reflect the least relief necessary. Accordingly, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and quashed in part the judgment of the Superior Court.

The New Castle Realty Company v. Raymond Dreczko, Jr., in his capacity as member of the Town of Charlestown Zoning Board of Review, et al., 248 A.3d 638 (RI 4/13/2021)


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