Appeal of BIPCo purchase heads to Supreme Court

Fri, 12/29/2017 - 8:45am

Thirteen Block Island ratepayers are challenging the Town of New Shoreham’s purchase of two-thirds shares of the Block Island Power Company in a case that is now heading to the Rhode Island Supreme Court. The court will hear oral arguments at the Licht Judicial Complex in Providence on Thursday, Feb. 15. 

The 13 plaintiffs are: Chris Warfel, Mary Jane Balser, Pete Mott, Kurt Tonner, Lee David Miles, Nancy Miles, Clifton Payne, Cathy Payne, Paul Filippi, Everett R. Littlefield, Sr., Amelia V. Littlefield, Robert Hoey and Robert E. Rose. Providence-based attorney Lauren Balkcom will be representing the plaintiffs in court, while Town Solicitor Katherine Merolla will serve as counsel for the defendants.

The ratepayers are appealing the dismissal of a complaint filed in Washington County Superior Court on Oct. 18, 2016 seeking to delay the town’s pruchase of two-thirds of BIPCo stock for $1.8 million. The injunction noted that if the closing was “allowed to proceed, irreparable imminent harm will occur to the finances and environment of Block Island.” Associate Justice Bennett Gallo granted the town’s motion to dismiss the complaint on Nov. 1, 2016. 

The plaintiffs’ lawsuit contends that the town, and First Warden Ken Lacoste, misled registered voters with regard to environmental, financial and legal details of the transaction. Registered voters approved the purchase of BIPCo by a slim vote of 178 to 176 at a special Financial Town Meeting on Sept. 26, 2016.

The case is cited on the Supreme Court’s calendar as “Christopher Warfel, et al v. Town of New Shoreham (SU-2017-0125-A).”