PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A developer who mistakenly built a $1.8 million waterfront house on parkland has been ordered to remove it.
The Rhode Island Supreme Court found that the unoccupied home in Narragansett was built entirely on land owned by the Rose Nulman Park Foundation, and therefore must be removed.
The developer, Four Twenty Corp., began building the home in 2009, but it didn’t discover the error until 2011 when it tried to sell the house and the prospective buyers got a survey. Robert Lamoureux, who owns the company, then contacted one of the park’s trustees to try to work something out, but she told him the land was not for sale, according to Friday’s opinion.
The foundation was set up to preserve the property as a park in perpetuity. A 2008 agreement among the family members says that if the trustees allow the land to be used as anything other than a public park, they must pay $1.5 million to New York Presbyterian Hospital.
The developer argued it should not be penalized for an innocent surveying mistake. The court said it was sympathetic, but it said the park’s property rights outweighed that. It also said it was in the public’s interest to keep the land as a park.
“Any attempt to build on even a portion of the property would constitute an irreparable injury, not only to plaintiff but to the public,” it wrote.
Messages left with the developer’s lawyer were not immediately returned.
A judge will decide how much time the developer has to remove the house.
A lawyer for the foundation, Mark Freel, says the developer has secured most of the permits he needs to move it to the neighboring land, but that the fate of one critical permit is still up in the air. The timing of that could affect whether the house has to be torn down.
“My client has wanted for a long time for the house to be removed,” he said. “My client’s very clear and firm position is that it’s time for the house to go.”