Robert Lamoureux built a towering house overlooking the ocean at Point Judith three years ago and began an ordeal that many developers would consider their worst nightmare.
When an out-of state buyer surveyed the Narragansett house, he found Lamoureaux had built the 2,400-square-foot contemporary entirely on property belonging to Rose Nulman Park.
Not just any private park, Rose Nulman is one of the most popular destinations in Rhode Island, and its late founder willed the land for permanent public recreational use.
The $1.8 million sale was quickly abandoned and in 2011 Lamoureaux began an effort to rescue the house that should ultimately reach its conclusion by next spring.
In March, Lamoureux appealed to the R.I. Supreme Court a Superior Court order to tear the building down. Arguments in the case are scheduled before the end of this year.
While he doesn’t dispute that his property is not where he thought it was, Lamoureux argues in his appeal that tearing down the house is a drastic remedy that will cause far more harm to him than keeping it there would for the park.
“Our argument is the law should recognize certain extraordinary circumstances where harm to one party is inordinate compared to the other and a suitable alternative remedy exists,” said James Kelleher, a lawyer with Revens, Revens & St. Pierre in Warwick who is representing Lamoureaux.
The remedy Lamoureux’s team would like to see is some form of land swap with Nulman Park.
The house, built on speculation and currently vacant, sits on an overgrown part of the park rarely used by visitors.
To avoid tearing it down or having to move it, Lamoureaux is willing to exchange the land the house sits on for some of his waterfront acreage, Kelleher said.
“Because Mr. Lamoureux’s parcel has a couple hundred feet of waterfront, that certainly is something that could be transferred to the [Rose Nulman] trust for additional access for surfers and more of the intended purpose,” Kelleher said. “One of the things we continue to argue is the section that was taken mistakenly was not a section in use. It was covered in scrub and was not utilized for any purpose. The portion subject to potential transfer would be completely useful.”