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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 116808
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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I own a parcel of waterfront property within 200 ft. fo the

Customer Question

I own a parcel of waterfront property within 200 ft. fo the water serviced by a cesspool in Portsmouth RI more percisley in the Island Park section of Portsmouth, I bought the property with a first time home owners Mortgage through RI Housing and Finance Corp. I have owned the property for 20 years. Portsmouth was given a Notice of Violation bu the DEM and fined 180,000 dollars some years ago and it was also Mandated by the DEM then Director Kevin Sullivan, that Portsmouth install a sewer system in the Island Park area of Portsmouth, The Cesspool Phase out act. Mabdated that all Cesspools within 200 ft. of the water be updated by 1/1/14. Asoit turned out Portsmouth hired a Lawyer paid for by Tax payer money i.e Yours truly, ***** ***** the Notice of Violation by DEM abd also to suggest that DEM did not have the authority to Mandate sewers in Island Park. The case was conduct with very little transparancy to the public and I don't know what happened in court. I think that the DEM and Portsmouth Lawyer came to an arrangement. In that the DEM would allow Portsmouth to form a Waste Water district covering the entire Town
and DEM would recind the 180K N.O.V. fine and would approve Portsmouths Waste Water Ordinance. Portsmouth would have to have every septic system in town pumped and inspected by 2020. In Island Park the pump and inspect had to be done by 2017. The towm council President and Vice president had a closed door meeting with the now Director of the DEM Janet Coyte. A potsmouth citzen filed a complaint with the attorney Generals office saying that they broke the open meetings law but the attorney general folded and said they were ok. In anycase rightb after the meeting DEM changed the rules for sighting septic systems just for the Island Park neighborhood. In which no grey water discharge would be allowed on any property within 25 deet of the water or within 25 feet of a storm drain. This change I sincerly think was dovetailed to effect my property and maybe one other property in Island Park my back yard is within 25 feet of the water and my front yard is within 25 feet of a storm drain. These restrictions are for only this one neighborhood in the state fo RI. My abbutting neighbors all have greywater discharge within 25 feet of both storm drain and water. Directly accross the cove on which I live all the properties have greywater discharge, they a5re not considered to be in the Island park area. My property has always been assed highly because I'm on the water upwards of 100K for the .04 acres of land and 100k for my house that was built in 1900. I once wrote a letter to the editor in the local paper exposing the slight of hand the Portsmouth Representatives were participating in. In the end I'm restricted to a 2,000 gallon tank for both grey water an blackwater discharge which I will have to pump every 20 days at the tune og 450.00 a pump. I have 30 days to comply or face 100 dolla5r a day fine for non-copliance. This was the Waste water Ordinance in Portsmouth that states this fine. My house will be de-valued to the tune of 100K and it will cost me 30K to install the tank, Of which I will have to borrow the money from the town through the DEM. Which puts a lean on my house. Can I sue the town for overassesing my property. Along time ago the Town Planner the slight of hand artist told me that the type of septic system a hous has is not in the formula for assessing houses, The state of RI has declared all cesspools in RI as substandard for some time. Also can I sue the State and Portsmouth under the whistle blowers statuted.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 11 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
Unfortunately, under their health and safety powers granted to the state and city, they have power to enact such a mandate and they are exempt from suit for devaluation of your property because of their enforcement of the ordinance (they have qualified immunity from suit if acting within the scope of their authority and powers). HOWEVER, you can seek to challenge the assessment on your property given the devaluation caused, if you can prove it by a new appraisal done on your property, and seek a reduction in your valuation for taxes. If you can prove that your property value has actually decreased as part of this new mandate, then you would file a tax appeal using a local attorney and go through the tax appeal process.