R.I. Supreme Court gives Coccoli a win in Hope Mill case

R.I. Supreme Court gives Coccoli a win in Hope Mill case

SCITUATE – The Rhode Island Supreme Court reversed one of four Superior Court decisions involving Vincent Coccoli, previous owner of the Hope Mills, and his $22 million lawsuit against the town of Scituate.

The current developer of the mill says the court decision does not impact his plan to restore the site.

After losing the property, which he planned to build into apartments, to receivership in 2010, Coccoli made several failed attempts to purchase the Main Street mill back, and alleged the town made a breach of contract and attempted to derail his efforts.

Coccoli represented himself through the process, despite being advised against doing so by Rhode Island Superior Court Justice Michael Silverstein.

In his appeal, the Supreme Court partially sided with Coccoli, agreeing that a July 2007 memorandum of understanding signed by then-Town Council President Robert Budway, notarized and entered into land evidence records, was a legally binding contract.

Associate Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg wrote in the decision, released on June 8, that the Supreme Court disagreed with the Superior Court decision regarding that memorandum.

“The agreement as set forth in the vote of the council and the MOU is binding upon the town,” Goldberg wrote.

Ruling against Coccoli in 2016 on all four counts, the Superior Court decision, issued by Silverstein, stated that the MOU contract is void without a second vote of the council.

“It is clear that the council voted to approve the sewer connection contingent upon receipt of a MOU from the Hope Mill Village Associates, and that contingency was met,” she wrote.

Coccoli said he spent approximately $2 million in engineering and planning to prepare the sewer connections, and said he will be going back to the Superior Court to seek prosecution.

Coccoli named the town of Scituate, the Town Council, and several individuals in his claim, including the receiver and building official.

“Everybody knew what was going on. Their claims to a false affidavit is in itself perjury,” he said. “It’s a bold disregard for the law.”

All other decisions by Silverstein were upheld in the case, ruling against Coccoli who alleged the town violated the privacy act, that the town interfered with his attempts to purchase the Mill from the receiver, and accusations of fraudulent misrepresentation.

Coccoli said the memorandum solidified the stipulation of designing and building a sewer connection to the West Warwick Regional Sewer System in perpetuity. All contractors with the intent of developing the mills would need to build the sewer infrastructure he prepared and the Town Council approved in April 2007 as well, according to Coccoli.

Town Council President John Mahoney disagreed, and said though he would like to see the Hope Mills responsibly developed, a bankruptcy filing would “cleanse” the deed free and clear of prior stipulations.

“I’ve been an advocate of the sewer system since day one,” Mahoney said.

At the same time, Mahoney said he does not believe the proposed plan for a 193-unit condominium building by Paramount Development Group is responsible.

“It would be a circus,” Mahoney said.

Recently, Paramount Development Group, owned by Richard Derosas, proposed to purchase and develop the 38-acre mill site, but is in similar litigation at the Rhode Island Supreme Court.

In Paramount’s complaint filed last December, the company’s $52 million Hope Mill plan was allegedly “unlawfully” denied by the Scituate Zoning Board in an attempt to prevent low-income housing to Scituate.

In his plan, 113 of the 193 units were slated to be low-income housing. Scituate houses 24 low-income units, or .8 percent of the housing, according to Mahoney.

The Zoning Board cited population density and impacts to local infrastructure such as strain on police and fire services, and traffic as reasons for denial.

Paramount’s Derosas said Coccoli’s win “doesn’t mean anything” to the development, and he intends to continue the development process for the mill, hoping to start construction next spring.

The Planning Board approved the initial master plan proposed by Paramount in 2017, and will hear a comprehensive plan by the developer at the end of the month.

Comments

The very people that brought this problem to Scituate are now going to solve it.

I don't think the people of Scituate will be thanking Coccoli or Mahoney any time soon.

they rob Peter to pay Paul,,
now they can count on Paul's vote