James Woods sued to stop construction next to his R.I. lake house. A judge ruled against him.

A Superior Court judge struck down each of the actor's legal arguments in the case involving his family's Ocean State property.

In this Nov. 2, 2016, photo, actor James Woods attends the premiere of the film "Bleed for This" in Beverly Hills, California.
In this Nov. 2, 2016, photo, actor James Woods attends the premiere of the film "Bleed for This" in Beverly Hills, California. Chris Pizzello / Invision / AP, File

A Rhode Island Superior Court judge ruled against James Woods earlier this week after the actor sued to try to undo a decision by a local zoning board that allows for the construction of a single-family home adjacent to his family’s longtime lakefront property in Exeter.

In a decision Monday, Judge Sarah Taft-Carter found there is “substantial evidence” supporting the Exeter Zoning Board’s decision to grant the dimensional relief requested by applicant Harry Hawker III, who is planning to construct the two-bedroom home on his parcel along Boone Lake.

Woods, the 75-year-old Oscar-nominated actor and Rhode Island native, filed the lawsuit in July, the month after the board unanimously approved Hawker’s application requesting relief from setback requirements to build on his undersized, non-conforming lot.


Woods’s family estate neighbors the property on West Shore Drive, roughly 30 miles southwest of Providence.

In the complaint, Woods argued proper notice of Hawker’s amended application, filed at the second of four hearings in May, was never given and that the Zoning Board lacked the authority to grant the relief.

Woods also contended Hawker failed to provide evidence to the board the relief requested “would not alter the general character of the surrounding area,” among other issues.

But Taft-Carter ruled against each of the arguments.

A notice of the initial April hearing was mailed to Woods in West Hollywood, California, and his lawyer subsequently attended the hearing on his behalf, Taft-Carter wrote.

Taft-Carter added the “record is clear that [Woods] attended the May hearing and as such, [Woods] ‘waive[d] [his] right to object to any alleged deficiency of notice’ for the May hearing.”

According to the judge, the board concluded the single-family home would be consistent to the character of the area because nearby properties and homes are similar in size, and the proposed dwelling will sit in the center of the property. That conclusion was supported by the record, she wrote.

Additionally, the board found the relief requested was the least relief necessary because Hawker “sought to minimize the need for dimensional relief as much as possible.”


“The record clearly supports this finding because Applicant designed a modest two-bedroom home, with a footprint of a mere 950 square feet,” the decision reads.

Building a single-family home in that area is also permitted by right, Taft-Cater noted. Without dimensional relief, Hawker would not be able to construct the dwelling, the judge wrote.

“Denying the Application would have been more than a mere inconvenience to Applicant because he would have been denied of his right to build a single-family home on his Property,” Taft-Carter wrote.

The court, after a full review of the case, found “substantial evidence” supporting the board’s decision, she wrote.

Woods grew up in Warwick, Rhode Island, and has twice been nominated for Academy Awards. He often makes guest cameos on “Family Guy” and has become known for his outspoken conservative political opinions.


This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com