CrossFit landlord: I'll have no choice but to sue

CrossFit landlord: I'll have no choice but to sue

NORTH PROVIDENCE - The owner of the building that houses Ocean State CrossFit at 975 Charles St. says she'll be left with no choice but to sue the town if officials follow through on an earlier attempt to shut the gym down.

Rosemarie DeMarco said the town officials had no legal basis for issuing a cease and desist order for the gym on April 11. Claims by Zoning Official Kelley Morris that the zoning office did not give final zoning authorization for the gym are not relevant, she said, since she and her team followed all processes laid out for them by town officials.

DeMarco, a North Providence resident who says she has deep ties locally, is not at all happy with Town Council members who pushed to have CrossFit shut down just days after its official opening at the end of March.

In addition to the $100,000 or so invested by the owners of CrossFit ($70,000 just for the equipment), said DeMarco, she herself invested approximately $36,000 more to install showers after town officials required that they be put in.

Morris could not confirm whether town officials did indeed require installation of the showers, and other town officials could not immediately be reached.

DeMarco said she signed a lease agreement with CrossFit owner Mike Berling for $4,800 a month over four years, or $230,400 in total expected revenue. Two other tenants had to leave the property because CrossFit needed the whole building, said DeMarco, bringing the total investment here close to $400,000.

"I don't want to sue but I won't have a choice," she told The Breeze.

After six months of working with town officials and Berling to get CrossFit open, said DeMarco, she's "physically sick" at how those same town officials have turned on them.

DeMarco said that Mayor Charles Lombardi did a "great job" matching her up with CrossFit. The only people she blames in this situation are Morris and the Town Council members who sided with neighbors and their complaints about noise.

Morris told The Breeze Monday that she stands by her decision to order CrossFit closed based on it being in non-compliance with existing zoning. The town "absolutely" has a "one-stop shopping" facility for business owners to get all their paperwork done in one spot, she said, but all necessary approvals must still be obtained from the various offices under that one roof.

DeMarco said the signature of Building Inspector Michael Carnevale, as a representative of the "Zoning/Planning" office at 1951 Mineral Spring Ave., as well as the admitted verbal approval of former Zoning Official Ed Civito for the business, give her standing for a potential lawsuit against the town if the business is forced closed.

But Morris contends that the "trade name certificate" license to operate that DeMarco and Berling received is essential for tax purposes, and does not constitute as zoning approval.

There are three people in the office who must all approve different aspects of a person's application, said Morris, and she is one of them. Berling has confirmed multiple times that he was aware that a gym use was not allowed in the commercial village zone, she said.

As for Berling, he's still hopeful that a compromise can be reached that makes everyone happy and allows his CrossFit gym to stay open permanently. He said he doesn't want to get into a debate over who is right or wrong over a controversy he believes could be cleared up "over breakfast."

Berling isn't currently planning a lawsuit of his own, but said he is armed with facts to back up his case that CrossFit is not presenting the daily noise problem claimed by neighbor Jay Metzger. He has printouts of workouts he says disprove Metzger's claims of loud noise on a certain night.

Further bolstering his case, said Berling, North Providence Police have visited the location multiple times and decided that they will not be issuing any citations for noise. He has yet to receive a noise complaint, he noted.

Metzger could not be reached for comment.

A visit to CrossFit for a class last Friday evening turned up just one person lifting and dropping weights. Metzger has claimed that full classes of CrossFit patrons cause "seismic booms" in the basement of his neighboring home when members drop their weights in unison. Gym staff say there are rarely more than five or 10 people in a class and the sounds they make are not loud at all.

The Breeze reported last week that Morris had issued a cease and desist order based on the fact that a gym use is not allowed in the area's commercial village zone, not on the complaints about noise from Metzger and others.

After initially locking the doors at CrossFit, Berling later learned that he could stay open as he awaits word on his appeal to the North Providence Zoning Board of Appeals.

Comments

How big is NP, I mean we can't be this disconnected with a town the size of NP?
Good thing NP doesn't have a lot of businesses that want to set up shop here, there would be no end to confusion. So much for cutting the red tape to fast track getting businesses going in NP. Put a sign on the NP entrance, "business not wanted, taxpayers prefer to pay the full boat themselves".
How about all of the depts. in the town talking to each other so each knows what is going on, I thought the Mayor's fast tracking had streamlined and coordinated all of the cross communication between depts. another beauty in NP and another business asking why did I pick NP.

I live near this business the claims of this neighbor are a complete joke. Just what NP needs, Council members and zoning officials that don't want businesses, tax revenues and another empty building. If this business was in Centerdale it wouldn't be an issue.