The Rhode Island Supreme Court today ordered the City of Newport to “issue victualing licenses…forthwith” to The Preservation Society of Newport County for The Elms Carriage House and the Chinese Tea House at Marble House.
The petitioners, the Preservation Society of Newport County and Newport Catering, Inc., d/b/a Glorious Affairs, Ltd., sought review of a decision of the respondent, the City Council of the City of Newport (the Council), denying two jointly filed applications for victualing licenses. On appeal, the petitioners contended that the Council impermissibly relied upon zoning considerations as its basis for denying their applications for victualing licenses; they further argued that, pursuant to the Code of Ordinances of the City of Newport, the Council was required to consider only health and/or safety issues in deciding whether to issue or deny the licenses.
The Supreme Court, after a careful review of the entire record, held that the Council in 2014 failed to provide factual findings and legal grounds to support its decision denying the petitioners’ applications for victualing licenses. That Council was also in derogation of its responsibilities for its failure to have pointed to any meaningful evidence in the record of health and/or safety concerns—which are, pursuant to § 5.72.020 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Newport, required to be the focus of such licensing decisions. Accordingly, the Court directed the present Council to issue victualing licenses to petitioners forthwith, absent any compelling evidence of significant health and/or safety issues. See The Full Decision
“The Court found that only matters of health and safety, as opposed to Zoning considerations, should have been considered when the Council reviewed the Preservation Society’s applications for licenses in 2014,” said attorney William R. Landry, who represented the Preservation Society, in a prepared press release.. “The Zoning issues relating to food service were clarified in the Preservation Society’s favor by the Newport Zoning Board in 2015, and in two Decisions by the Rhode Island Supreme Court earlier this year, in connection with The Breakers Welcome Center.”
“We are grateful to the court for its careful consideration of the victualing license matter, and we welcome today’s decision,” said Preservation Society Board Chair Monty Burnham in a prepared pres release.
“The Preservation Society is currently focused on beginning construction of The Breakers Welcome Center in the next few weeks, and will announce its plans for The Elms and Marble House in the near future,” said Trudy Coxe, CEO & Executive Director of the Preservation Society in a prepared press release.