Court sides with Warren in zoning case


The Rhode Island Superior Court has sided with the Town of Warren after a resident challenged a zoning board decision granting his neighbors permission to build a new one-car garage on their property next to the Kickemuit River.

In a decision filed this week, Superior Court Magistrate Sarah Taft-Carter upheld a May 2011 Zoning Board of Review decision granting Ken and Ann Morrill the right to build the garage on their small property. A neighbor, David Rotondo, had appealed that decision, claiming that the zoning board did not appropriately consider the facts of the case when granting the Morrills the right to build.

Mr. Rotondo filed his appeal shortly after the Morrills asked for and were granted variances which allowed them to build a large detached garage, 16 by 20 feet, on their property just up from the Kickemuit River. The Morrills sought zoning relief because the proposed garage exceeded thee town’s 10-foot setback and lot coverage requirements.

After the board unanimously approved the variances, Mr. Rotondo appealed the decision to the Superior Court. He alleged that the board did not make the required “findings of fact” necessary to make an informed decision on the Morrills’ request, including whether the Morrills would have suffered a hardship if the request was denied.

In response to his appeal, in June Magistrate Sarah Taft-Carter sent the matter back to the zoning board with instructions to consider the findings of fact and the matter of hardship, among other things. The board issued a “supplemental decision” in August, affirming the original variance. After reviewing the board’s supplement, Magistrate Taft-Carter upheld the original variance approved in May 2011, affirming the Morrills’ right to build.


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.