Developer ordered to remove house from neighboring land
Bob Lamoureax is friendly and thoughtful, a soft-spoken man. He is a part time Block Island resident and serves as a second alternate on the town’s Zoning Board. On the mainland, he is a builder who has completed, he says, hundreds of houses.
Despite his experience, Lamoureaux finds himself caught up in a scenario he says he still has difficulty believing has happened to him. He built an upscale house complete with a Jacuzzi, rooftop cabana and a wet bar on oceanfront property that is not his.
The house was meant to be built on Lamoureaux’s property, but it’s actually entirely on a next-door-neighbor’s land, and Superior Court Judge Brian Stern has ordered Lamoureaux to tear the building down.
Lamoureaux bought the property, at 1440 Ocean Road in Narragansett, in 1984. It is adjacent to property purchased in l993 by Saul Nulman that was later established as the Rose Nulman Park under the auspices of the Rose Nulman Foundation.
Neither is an ordinary lot. They are located on the peninsula that juts into the Atlantic Ocean with the Point Judith Lighthouse and Coast Guard House at the end of the road. Views from the Rose Nulman Park are as spectacular as those we consider our fondest on Block Island. It is a favorite with local surfers. Views from the two-plus story house on the edge of the beach must be equally spectacular.
When Lamoureax built the house, he says he gave the Carrigan Engineering firm an old survey and left the siting to them.
Craig Carrigan, owner of that company, sounded remorseful but explained their work was based on Lamoureaux’s survey. Says Lamoureaux, “I paid $31,000 in fees and had no reason to think it was wrong.”
But when the house went up for sale and a prospective buyer willing to pay $1,867,500 for the house and property conducted a separate survey prior to the purchase, he found the house, driveway and septic system are all located in the Rose Nulman Park, on a plot comprising 6 percent of the park. Subsequently, the deal fell through and the trustees of the Park went to court to have the house removed from their property.
Asked how that could happen, Lamoureaux was baffled and chalked it up to really bad luck.
The Rose Nulman Foundation case went to court in June, 2012. According to the court documents, Lamoureaux informed the park’s trustees when he learned of the mistake. He told the Block Island Times, “I made an offer to swap and give them far more, but they didn’t want to talk in any way, shape or form.”
In September, the judge wrote that he had considered a swap, but decided against it. Though Lamoureax had testified the portion of the Nulman property affected was “only 6 percent,” and argued it did not affect the ability of the Nulman property to be used as a park, the judge wrote “this court finds the figure to be 6 precent more than what a landowner in fee simple should be forced to transfer.”
The Nulman foundation, the court wrote, was set up with the proviso that if the trustees “permit the park to be used in any manner other than the designated use,” a $1.5 million penalty would be imposed upon them payable to the New York Presbyterian Hospital. Judge Stern cited that restriction when he ordered Lamoureaux to remove his property from it.
Lamoureaux is appealing the decision to the Rhode Island Supreme Court.