Snakes and Snake-Killers in the Providence Fruit Building Thing
While we try to understand how a city can issue a Demolition Permit for an historic building, let’s take a look at the June 20, 2006, minutes of the State Properties Committee meeting at which the Purchase & Sale Agreement and the deed were approved, during which Chairman Jerome Williams repeatedly expressed concern that the building not be razed:
Chairman Williams understood the historical restrictions, however; he is concerned that if the State Properties Committee approves the sale of the property at four million five hundred thousand and 00/100 ($4,500,000.00) Dollars and then Carpionato Properties, Inc. is allowed to demolish the building, the State of Rhode Island will clearly not have received fair and equitable compensation for the subject property.
To these queries, Mr. Kelly Coates, Senior Vice of Carpionato Properties, made the following statements:
… that the exact legal language states that anything done by Carpionato Properties, Inc. is subject to the approval of the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission. Therefore, any plans for the property will require its consent and language to that effect is contained in the Purchase and Sale Agreement.
* * * *
… that a development plan has been reviewed by the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission and they have executed the same. Mr. Coates indicated that a substantial amount of time has passed since the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission’s execution of the agreement, however, that signed development plan is also an exhibit to the Purchase and Sale Agreement. Mr. Coates reiterated that any work done by Carpionato Properties, Inc. relative to this property is entirely at the discretion and mercy of the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission.
And Attorney Thomas V. Moses, representing Carpionato Properties…
…once again, reiterated the significant restrictions placed upon Carpionato Properties, Inc. relative to the development of the property.
* * * *
indicated that approval of Carpionato Properties, Inc.’s development plan is contingent upon its incorporating the existing structure.
While they were presumably not under oath at this meeting, are Mr. Coates and Attorney Moses permitted to overtly dissemble in this way?
Snakes will be snakes. The more edifying concern is whether members of the State Properties Committee, supposedly one of the snake-killing branches of our government, have verified for themselves that the requisite condition was a part of the Purchase & Sales Agreement by … um … reading the documents that they were asked to approve.
The name of Michael D. Mitchell, legal counsel to the state, is mentioned repeatedly in these and other minutes of meetings of the State Properties Committee at which the disposition of this property was discussed and eventually approved. Can we know, please, what role he played in this unfortunate little drama?
Commenter “Brassband” adds the Attorney General to Rhode Island officials m.i.a. in this matter:
I will reiterate — it is the responsibility of the Attorney General to assure that all of the actual conveyancing documents are proper. The statute requires him to approve all deeds “as to form,” and there can be no proper transfer of the state’s interest in real estate if that is not accomplished.
The question is; who from the AG’s office approved the deed? If the answer is “no one,” then why wasn’t that issue raised before Judge Silverstein last week?
RI General Law 37-7-3 states:
The deed shall be executed on behalf of the state by the acquiring authority, approved as to substance by the director of administration, and approved as to form by the attorney general.
Minutes of the June 20, 2006 meeting confirm the presence of Committee members Mr. Robert Griffith representing the RI Department of Administration and Genevieve Allaire Johnson, Esquire, representing the Attorney General’s office. Additionally, in attendance were Marlene McCarthy Tuohy and Kevin Nelson from the RI Department of Administration.
Interestingly, the minutes state that Michael D. Mitchell “from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation” was in attendance at this meeting, though the RI Bar Association Directory presently lists him as Deputy Chief of Legal Services for the RI Department of Administration. Either Mr. Mitchell wore two hats at the time or he changed jobs in the interim.