Churchill & Banks lawsuits against town still 'on hold' in court

Churchill & Banks lawsuits against town still 'on hold' in court

SMITHFIELD - Despite recent Town Council approval of a zoning change for land owned by Churchill & Banks at the intersection of Esmond Street and Route 44, Town Solicitor Edmund Alves said that "part of the ordinance" adopted by the Council requires that the two lawsuits against the town be dismissed only when the project for a mixed-use village is approved by the Planning Board.

Alves told The Valley Breeze & Observer that, for now, the two cases will "continue to be on hold in the court."

In July 2012, Churchill & Banks sued the town of Smithfield, alleging that members of the Planning Board and Councilwoman Maxine Cavanagh had a "secret" meeting regarding the company's request to build a previously proposed $23 million retail and office park.

Because of the lawsuit pending against her, Cavanagh was advised by Alves to recuse herself from any participation in the case, leaving four out of the five Council members to vote following the public hearing on Oct. 7.

In the second lawsuit, filed in January 2013, Churchill & Banks sued the Zoning Board, asking the Superior Court to reverse the Planning Board's decision to deny the same proposal for a retail/office park.

If the new proposed village project is denied by the Planning Board in the coming months, then Churchill & Banks will "go ahead with the lawsuits," Alves said.

Alves added that throughout the Planning Board process, Cavanagh, who is being represented by the town of Smithfield, "will have to stay out of it."