How Do You Accidentally Build A $2M Oceanfront Home On Public Park Land?

(Turnto10.com)

(Turnto10.com)

Spoiler alert: If your home is built on land you don’t own, you’re going to have to move it or lose it. The owner of a $2 million home in Rhode Island found out the hard way that not all engineers are up to snuff when it comes to figuring out what is and isn’t public park land.

Back in 2009, the oceanfront home’s developer hired an engineering firm to survey the land slated for the $1.8 million house, which currently sits on a plot in Point Judith, RI. Everything apparently passed muster, and the building went up, with construction complete in 2011.

Fast forward to when the developer then tried to sell the house, reports Turnto10.com, and a prospective buyer hired an independent engineer to check things out.

That survey found that the land was actually owned by a family that designated the area as park land for public use. Oops.

The developer has been fighting to keep the house where it is and reportedly contacted a trustee for the park to see what could be done (to no avail), but now the Rhode Island Supreme Court has found that because the home was built completely on land owned by the family foundation, it has to go, reports the Associated Press.

While the court said it was sympathetic to the developer’s plight and what can be chalked up to a surveying mistake, the park’s property rights come first, and it’s in the public interest to keep the land as a park anyway.

“Any attempt to build on even a portion of the property would constitute an irreparable injury, not only to plaintiff but to the public,” the court wrote.

According to a 2008 agreement among family members, if trustees did let the land be used for anything besides a public park, they’d have to fork over $1.5 million to New York Presbyterian Hospital.

It’s now up to a judge to decide the timeline for removing the house.

Well, at least the developer doesn’t have to burn the whole thing down, right?

Ruling: Oceanfront home must be moved [Turnto10.com]
Court: $1.8M House Built on Park Must Be Removed [Associated Press]

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  1. theoriginalcatastrophegirl says:

    from stories i learned from my friend who is a realtor – ALWAYS double check the surveys. one survey came back fine but aerial photos on the country property records site indicated maybe not. a second survey proved the driveway belonged to the adjacent property and if there’s ever a neighbor feud that would be ugly
    i can’t imagine how the building permits got approved for the wrong piece of property

  2. evlpete says:

    Let me guess, the builder hired surveyor to mark the area, but didn’t pay to have the survey filed with the County and in failing to do so waved any protection he has

  3. radioone says:

    Foolish mistake causes problem. The contractor/developer should have checked the town’s record, or had another survey done for safety’s sake.

    All in all, this is a win for the public, because public access land down there needs to be protected.