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Norman’s Sewer Bill Includes Five Apartments

The property “155 Main Street” is actually two buildings, the one housing the restaurant and three-family directly behind it on Church Street.

Norman's Restaurant on Main Street. Credit: EG Patch
Norman's Restaurant on Main Street. Credit: EG Patch

The Town Council has held off renewing the liquor and victualling licenses for Norman’s Restuarant because property owner Norman Harris owes $32,000 in sewer fees dating from 2010.

But the bill the council is basing its decision on encompasses more than just the restaurant’s sewer use. Because of an arcane real estate practice, there are two properties billed as “155 Main St.,” the restaurant’s address – the building housing the restaurant/bar and the building directly behind it on Church Street.

So the restaurant is being held accountable for a sewer bill that includes two apartments above it and the three apartments in the building on Church Street.

Norman Harris’s daughter, Sharon Hazard, said that’s how the property was sold to her father in 1972. There is only one water meter for both properties; the town bases sewer fees off water use as reported by Kent County Water Authority.

On Thursday, Town Council President Michael Isaacs said Norman’s could make an argument to the council that the restaurant should be responsible for only a portion of the sewer bill in order to satisfy liquor and victualling license renewal standards.

Such an arrangement would not negate the bill.

Norman’s got license renewals in 2011, 2012, and 2013 even though Harris was behind on the sewer fees because the town’s finance department had only been checking that business taxes were up to date. 

In 2013, however, then Finance Director Kathy Raposa said all monies owed to the town had to be current in order for the town to receive license renewals. That meant, in addition to business taxes, property taxes and sewer fees were considered. Norman's had been current on business taxes, so renewals had continued until renewal for 2014 came up in December

Isaacs said the change came after a closer reading of the Town Charter and Municipal Code, which reads (227-38):

  • A. No license or permit which the Town Council is empowered to grant will be issued or renewed to any person who is currently in arrears in any tax, lien, or assessment levied by the Town.
  • B. No license or permit which the Town Council is empowered to grant will be issued or renewed to any person renting, letting, leasing, or otherwise hiring premises in the Town for the purpose of carrying on the licensed activity from an owner or landlord who is in arrears in any tax, lien, or assessment levied by the Town.

Hazard, who is handling the issue on behalf of her father, has said at previous Town Council meetings that the sewer fees went unpaid because business had taken a hit after the recession in 2008.

She is due back before the Town Council Monday night to offer proof that her father owns the property outright and there are no outstanding liens. He has applied for a home equity loan and part of that process would include a title search which would turn up any liens.

According to Hazard, the loan process could take six weeks. Town Councilor Jeff Cianciolo told Hazard at the council meeting Jan. 13 he didn’t want to wait six weeks only to then learn the property has liens and might then be ineligible for a home equity loan, so he asked that she bring some proof to the council meeting on Monday, Jan. 27, at Swift Community Center at 7 p.m.
Chuck Newton January 24, 2014 at 07:14 AM
Missing info: who controls the apartments? Who collects the rent?
Steve Gregson January 24, 2014 at 07:46 AM
It's time to stop scewing around with this and move on. It's not the Council's place to be worried about where the money comes from. Pay the bill or sell the property. It's an insult to every resident that pays on time!
BOB I January 24, 2014 at 07:49 AM
just follow the law
nonpc January 24, 2014 at 08:00 AM
We are in the age where the crooks know the laws better than the gov't. officials... The Hazard's know exactly what had to be paid to keep operating. Anybody in this business does. The laughing point is 'Isaacs said the change came after a closer reading of the Town Charter and Municipal Code..." A closer reading?!?!? Really? And we pay the town solicitor for....? Or have the council for....? Their handling of this matter since their CLOSER READING of the Town Charter and Municipal Code can be best summed up as waffling and weak. It really opens up the question as to their competency and resolve don'tcha think? I mean if they don't know at least the pertinent points of our 300 year old town charter, or our municipal code, and can't act swiftly and firmly on people who are making a mockery of them, I can't wait to see how they handle the school committees request for another million dollars for internet gateway machines for all our elementary and middle school aged kids.... yeah. That's a good idea too. Protect and fight for the scofflaws... spend ridiculous amounts of money on unproven technology for our schools... hmmm. Me thinks this council are a bunch of RINO's.
EG Lurker January 25, 2014 at 09:16 AM
Are the Hazards collecting rent on the apartments? Pay the sewer bill!
Ericka Forman January 27, 2014 at 01:55 PM
Sharon Hazard and her family are my neighbors and they have been nothing but good ones. She is friendly and always has a kind word to say, and her sons have always been respectful. Times are hard and calling people names, some of us behind false internet pseudonyms, is not the way to go. Giving a struggling business time to pay the bill is. We hear a lot of talk about creating jobs and luring business into East Greenwich and into RI. Well, don't we have one here already? They have employees, they have a location, and they just need the town council to let them get the money together to pay them. If they are shut down EG loses an employer, and a taxpayer. Unless the Town Council has an ulterior motive for shutting Norms down, I really don't see why they would not take the deal if the mortgage goes thru. It's a win/win situation.
Joe Kin January 28, 2014 at 07:03 AM
Yes, times are tough Ms. Forman. It is nice to know that Ms. Hazard and her family are friendly people and I wish them well. That being said however, you and I are not given 3-4 years to pay our bills. This is not something that just came upon the family. I feel the council had been more than generous in the time granted to this business. Main Street is thriving and I'm sure another business could make a go of it at this location. You see, it's a win /win situation. One less bar room in town!

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