October 6, 2005
If You Love Spite Fence Cases . . .
as I do, then you should check out Dowdell v. Bloomquist, 847 A.2d 827 (RI 2004). Bloomquist applied to the Charlestown Zoning Board of Review for a variance to build a second story for his home. Neighbor Dowdell opposed the application, citing concerns about her view of the Atlantic Ocean. Relationship between Dowdell and Bloomquist deteriorated. Bloomquist planted a row of four forty-foot-high western arborvitae blocking Dowdell's view of the water. A big issue in the case was whether the trees constituted a "fence" within the meaning of the Rhode Island spite fence statute. The statutory definition of a fence includes a hedge, and the trial court heard expert testimony(!) on whether the trees were a hedge. The trial court held that they were a hedge, and the Supreme Court of RI affirmed, apparently consistent with a California case on the same issue.
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