Town of Barrington v. TownsendAnnotate this Case
Respondent Richard Townsend, appealed a superior court order that: (1) granted summary judgment in favor of the petitioner, Town of Barrington (Town), on its claims that respondent used his property as a campground and his barn as a dwelling without proper Town approvals; and (2) awarded attorney's fees to the Town. In September 2008, the motor home in which the respondent had been living sustained damage from an electrical fire rendering it uninhabitable. Following the fire, he moved into his barn, which he described as "adequate for emergency living quarters." The barn is a two-story structure with a workshop on the lower level and the respondent's office on the upper level. The barn has insulation, sheetrock, carpet, electricity, plumbing, two heating systems, and central air conditioning. The second floor also has restaurant kitchen equipment, a sink, a bed, a futon, a game table, and massage and fitness equipment. In March 2009, the Town sent the respondent a notice of zoning violation/cease and desist order. The respondent replied that although he had not yet completed the repairs to his fire-damaged RV, he would "move the unfinished home from the barn to appease the town." He asserted that he had moved out of the barn by April 1, 2009. The Town asserted that it sent a second letter to the respondent in May 2009, "reiterating the violations and notifying [him] that court action would be taken if he failed to come into compliance." It commenced that action in July for preliminary and permanent injunctions, civil penalties, and attorney's fees. The respondent brought a number of counterclaims alleging, among other things, bad faith by the Town's code enforcement officer and police chief. The Town moved for summary judgment. The trial court granted the Town's motion. On appeal, the respondent argued that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment on the code violation issues because "[m]aterial issues of fact existed regarding [his] use of his property and barn." He also argued that the trial court erred in awarding attorney's fees to the Town. Finding no error, the Supreme Court affirmed.