2007-06-28 / News

Jack's Electric continues appeal with new attorney

By Sam Bari

To improve his chances of approval for a new home for Jack's Electric in the building beleaguered with legal problems at 14 Clinton Ave., Jack Brittain, the owner of Windridge Properties and Jack's Electric, decided to get a new attorney.

The Zoning Board of Review was on the agenda to sit as the Planning Board of Appeals at the regular monthly meeting of the board on Tuesday. The board was scheduled to make a decision on the Windridge Properties appeal of the Planning Commission's decision to deny approval of revised plans for the Clinton Avenue building. However, a last minute letter from Brittain's new attorney, Donald Packer of South Kingstown, requested a continuance to the July meeting to give them time to prepare their case.

After Brittain's former attorney, James A. Donnelly stormed out of last month's zoning board meeting, leaving Brittain on his own before the board, he decided to make a change.

In other business, the application of Mark Baker and Elizabeth Kneib, whose property is located at 2 Baldwin Court, to appeal a building permit issued to Doris R. Arthur to construct a single-family home at 6 Baldwin Court was denied by a 4-1 vote. Board member Richard Boren cast the dissenting vote citing differences in interpretation of zoning regulations as his reason for denial.

Newport Attorney Chris Behan, who represented the applicant, cited a boundary dispute as one of the grounds for granting the appeal. Town solicitor for zoning issues, Wyatt Brochu, said that boundary disputes were not in the jurisdiction of the zoning board and could not be used as an argument. Behan also argued that Arthur had changed her lot by adding 997-square feet so the property would be in compliance with setback regulations and not be subject for review by the board. He cited the addition as never existing as a separate lot on its own. However, the board disagreed and denied the appeal.

Jamestown attorney John A. Murphy represented Mark E. Brasil in a request for variance to construct a single-family residence on a 5,000-square foot Court Street lot just west of East Shore Road. The application for the 16-foot by 20- foot home requested a left and right side yard setback of 17-feet where 30-feet were required and 50-foot frontage on Court Street where 200-feet were required.

Brasil had previously requested to rebuild a house on the original footprint of a home that he owned on the property, which had been demolished while he was away serving in the Marine Corps. When he returned, the house was no longer there because relatives had torn it down unbeknownst to Brasil.

When he researched the property looking for a demolition permit, none had been recorded. Consequently, there was no record of the building ever existing even though the imprint of the foundation and evidence of a structure were still obvious. Brasil was then subject to current ordinances and was required to reduce the original plans to reconstruct the home by 50 percent to satisfy zoning board concerns. The board voted 5-0 to approve the application.

Attorney John A. Murphy also represented Beth Smith, whose property is located at 86 Orient Ave., in her application for a special use permit to construct a house in a high ground water/impervious layer overlay district. The application also requested a dimensional variance to allow the dwelling to be 30.3-feet from the front lot line where 40-feet are required, and 17.6-feet from the northern lot line on the 24,275-square foot property.

Murphy called on Providence architect, Chris Tuck, who designed the home, as an expert witness. Tuck pointed out that the home appeared bigger on the plans than it actually was. He emphasized that the house only covered 8 percent of the property where 15 percent was allowed. Nonetheless, that was not enough to convince the board to allow the dimensional variances and the application was denied by a 3-2 vote, with Chairman Thomas Ginnerty and Commissioner David Nardolillo casting the dissenting votes.

Attorney Quentin Anthony represented Eastern Resorts in their application to construct a 521-square foot deck and replace an existing sign with a new 17.5-foot sign at 150 Conanicus Ave. The board approved the request with a 4-1 vote with restrictions.

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