R.I. Judge Rules That Oysters Qualify as Form of Livestock

SOUTH KINGSTOWN — You might not consider saltwater bivalves on par with any variety of cattle, goats or sheep, but a Superior Court ruling this week determined that is precisely what oysters constitute: livestock.

Judge Joseph A. Montalbano on Thursday upheld a South Kingstown Zoning Board of Review decision allowing Perry Raso, owner of the Matunuck Oyster Farm and Matunuck Oyster Bar, to continue using a slice of land on Potter Pond to support his aquaculture operation. In doing so, Montalbano accepted the understanding that oysters represent livestock whose farming is allowed in the rural residential zone.

Montalbano ruled that the board’s July 2016 decision allowing Raso’s activities in an R-80, or rural residential low density district, was based on substantial evidence and fell within the board’s authority under local zoning law. Montalbano found, too, that the board did not act arbitrarily or capriciously.

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