Real Estate & Property Law

Court orders removal of $1.8M home mistakenly built on park land

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A developer who relied on a faulty land survey will have to move the $1.8 million home he built on park land on Rhode Island’s coast, the state supreme court has ruled.

The court ruled (PDF) against developer Robert Lamoureux and the corporation he owns, the Four Twenty Corp., report the Associated Press and the Providence Journal. Lamoureux wasn’t aware the home was built on park land until a potential buyer did a land survey and backed out of the deal.

The three-story home has a rooftop cabana with a Jacuzzi, the Providence Journal says.

The owner of the land is the Rose Nulman Park Foundation, which sought an injunction based on the continuing trespass. Its trustees are barred from selling or building on the land unless they pay a $1.5 million penalty to New York Presbyterian Hospital.

The general rule, according to the state supreme court, is that the owner of land is entitled to an injunction to prevent a continuing trespass, though courts may refuse an injunction in exceptional circumstances. In this case, the court said, the harm to the landowner outweighs the hardships of moving the home. The court also considered the interests of the public.

“While the defendants may have clean hands,” the court said, “the plaintiff is certainly an innocent party as well. Indeed we note that the plaintiff has been put to the inconvenience of protecting its right to its property in court as a consequence of wanting to ensure that the public would always be able to enjoy the property in its natural state.”

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