Zoning Enabling Act of 1991 (As amended through the end of the January 2016 Regular Session)

Table of Contents

§ 45-24-27 Title.

§ 45-24-49  ... Development plan review.

§ 45-24-28 Continuation of ordinances – etc.

§ 45-24-50  ... Power ... to adopt – Consistency with comp. plan.

§ 45-24-29 Legislative findings and intent.

§ 45-24-51  ... Procedure for adoption or amendment.

§ 45-24-30 General purposes of zoning ordinances.

§ 45-24-52  ... Review by planning board ...

§ 45-24-31 Definitions.

§ 45-24-53  ... Notice and hearing requirements.

§ 45-24-32 Contents of zoning ordinances.

§ 45-24-54  ... Administration and enforcement of zoning ordinance.

§ 45-24-33  Standard provisions.

§ 45-24-55  ... Maintenance of zoning ordinance.

§ 45-24-34  ... Purpose and consistency with comprehensive plan.

§ 45-24-56  ... Zoning board ... Establishment and procedures.

§ 45-24-35  ... Definitions.

§ 45-24-57  ... Powers and duties of zoning board of review.

§ 45-24-36  ... Division into districts.

§ 45-24-58  ... Application procedure.

§ 45-24-37  General provisions – Permitted uses.

§ 45-24-59  ... Fees.

§ 45-24-38  ... Substandard lots of record.

§ 45-24-60  ... Violations.

§ 45-24-39  ... Nonconforming development.

§ 45-24-61  ... Decisions and records of zoning board of review.

§ 45-24-40  ... Alteration of nonconforming development.

§ 45-24-61.1  Procedure – Tolling of expiration periods.

§ 45-24-41  ... Variances.

§ 45-24-62  ... Judicial aid in enforcement.

§ 45-24-42  ... Special-use permits.

§ 45-24-63  Appeals – Right of appeal.

§ 45-24-43  ... Special conditions.

§ 45-24-64  Appeals – Appeals to zoning board of review.

§ 45-24-44  ... Creation of vested rights.

§ 45-24-65  Appeals – Stay of proceedings.

§ 45-24-45  ... Publication and availability of zoning ordinances.

§ 45-24-66  Appeals – Public hearing by zoning board of review.

§ 45-24-46  Special provisions – Modification.

§ 45-24-67  Appeals – Participation in zoning hearing

§ 45-24-46.1  Inclusionary zoning.

§ 45-24-68  Appeals – Decisions and records of zoning board ...

§ 45-24-46.2  Special provisions – Transfer of development rights – North Kingstown.

§ 45-24-69  Appeals – Appeals to superior court.

§ 45-24-46.3  Special provisions – Transfer of development rights – Exeter.

§ 45-24-69.1  Appeals – Notice of appeals to superior court.

§ 45-24-46.4  Special provisions – Unified development review.

§ 45-24-70  Appeals – Priority in judicial proceedings.

§ 45-24-47 Special provisions – Land development projects.

§ 45-24-71  Appeals – Appeal of enactment of ... zoning ordinance.

§ 45-24-48  ... Preapplication conference.

§ 45-24-72 Severability.


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  § 45-24-27  Title. – Sections 45-24-27 through 45-24-72 shall be known as the "Rhode Island Zoning Enabling Act of 1991".

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  § 45-24-28  Continuation of ordinances – Supercession – Relation to other statutes. – (a) Any zoning ordinance or amendment of the ordinance enacted after January 1, 1992, shall conform to the provisions of this chapter. All lawfully adopted zoning ordinances shall be brought into conformance with this chapter by December 31, 1994. Each city and town shall review its zoning ordinance and make amendments or revisions that are necessary to bring it into conformance with this chapter.

  (b) All zoning ordinances adopted under authority of §§ 45-24-1 through 45-24-26 or any special zoning enabling act that is in effect on June 17, 1991, shall remain in full force and effect until December 31, 1994, unless earlier amended so as to conform to the provisions of this chapter, except that § 45-24-37 and § 45-24-44 shall become effective on January 1, 1992.

  (c) Former §§ 45-24-1 through 45-24-26 and all special zoning enabling acts, including, but not limited to, chapter 2299 of the public laws of 1922, as amended (town of Westerly); chapter 1277 of the public laws of 1926, as amended (town of Narragansett); chapter 2065 of the public laws of 1933, as amended (town of West Warwick); chapter 2233 of the public laws of 1935, as amended (town of Johnston); chapter 2079 of the public laws of 1948, as amended (town of North Kingstown); chapter 3125 of the public laws of 1953, as amended (town of New Shoreham); chapter 101 of the public laws of 1973, as amended (town of South Kingstown); are repealed effective December 31, 1994. All provisions of zoning ordinances adopted under authority of the provisions of former §§ 45-24-1 through 45-24-26 or of any special act are repealed and are null and void as of December 31, 1994, unless amended so as to conform to the provisions of this chapter.

  (d) Chapter 24.1 of this title, entitled "Historical Area Zoning", and chapter 3 of title 1, entitled "Airport Zoning", are not superseded by this chapter; provided, that any appeal to the superior court pursuant to Chapter 24.1 of this title, entitled "Historical Area Zoning", or pursuant to chapter 3 of title 1, entitled "Airport Zoning", is taken in the manner provided in § 45-24-69.

  (e) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to limit the authority of agencies of state government to perform any regulatory responsibilities.

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  § 45-24-29  Legislative findings and intent. – (a)(1) The general assembly recognizes and affirms in §§ 45-24-27 through 45-24-72 that the findings and goals stated in § 45-22.2-3 present findings and goals with which zoning must be consistent.

  (2) The general assembly further finds that:

  (i) The zoning enabling statutes contained in §§ 45-24-1 through 45-24-26, repealed as of December 31, 1994, were largely enacted in 1921;

  (ii) The character of land development and related public and private services have changed substantially in the intervening years;

  (iii) It is necessary to provide for innovative land development practices to enable cities and towns to adequately regulate the use of land and employ modern land development practices;

  (iv) It is necessary to take full account of the requirement that each city and town amend its zoning ordinance to conform to, and be consistent with, its comprehensive plan adopted pursuant to chapter 22.2 of this title, and to all the elements contained therein; and

  (v) A substantial updating and revision of the original statutory zoning enabling authority is required to meet these changed conditions.

  (3) It is therefore found that the preparation and implementation of zoning ordinances is necessary to address the findings and needs identified in this section; to protect the public health, safety, and general welfare; to allow the general assembly to carry out its duty to provide for the conservation of the natural resources of the state; and to adopt all means necessary and proper by law for the preservation, regeneration, and restoration of the natural environment of the state in accordance with R.I. Const., Art. I, Sec. XVI and XVII; to promote good planning practice; and to provide for sustainable economic growth in the state.

  (b) Therefore, it is the intent of the general assembly:

  (1) That the zoning enabling authority contained in this chapter provide all cities and towns with adequate opportunity to address current and future community and statewide needs;

  (2) That the zoning enabling authority contained in this chapter require each city and town to conform its zoning ordinance and zoning map to be consistent with its comprehensive plan developed pursuant to chapter 22.2 of this title;

  (3) Except as prohibited pursuant to 45-24-30(b), 45-24-30(c), or 45-24-30(d), that the zoning enabling authority contained in this chapter empower each city and town with the capability to establish and enforce standards and procedures for the proper management and protection of land, air, and water as natural resources, and to employ contemporary concepts, methods, and criteria in regulating the type, intensity, and arrangement of land uses, and provide authority to employ new concepts as they may become available and feasible;

  (4) That the zoning enabling authority contained in this chapter permit each city and town to establish an economic impact commission whose duties would be to advise municipalities on the economic impact new zoning changes would have on cities and towns and private property owners, and to assist municipalities in determining financial impacts when new or changed zoning adversely affects business climate, land use, property value, natural and historic resources, industrial use, or development of private property; and may permit the use of land and buildings within the groundwater protection zones for agricultural purposes and shall encourage the use of farmland in a manner that is consistent with the protection of groundwater resources; and

  (5) That each city and town amend its zoning ordinance to comply with the terms of this chapter.

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  § 45-24-30  General purposes of zoning ordinances. – (a) Zoning regulations shall be developed and maintained in accordance with a comprehensive plan prepared, adopted, and as may be amended, in accordance with chapter 22.2 of this title and shall be designed to address the following purposes. The general assembly recognizes these purposes, each with equal priority and numbered for reference purposes only.

  (1) Promoting the public health, safety, and general welfare.

  (2) Providing for a range of uses and intensities of use appropriate to the character of the city or town and reflecting current and expected future needs.

  (3) Providing for orderly growth and development that recognizes:

  (i) The goals and patterns of land use contained in the comprehensive plan of the city or town adopted pursuant to chapter 22.2 of this title;

  (ii) The natural characteristics of the land, including its suitability for use based on soil characteristics, topography, and susceptibility to surface or groundwater pollution;

  (iii) The values and dynamic nature of coastal and freshwater ponds, the shoreline, and freshwater and coastal wetlands;

  (iv) The values of unique or valuable natural resources and features;

  (v) The availability and capacity of existing and planned public and/or private services and facilities;

  (vi) The need to shape and balance urban and rural development; and

  (vii) The use of innovative development regulations and techniques.

  (4) Providing for the control, protection, and/or abatement of air, water, groundwater, and noise pollution, and soil erosion and sedimentation.

  (5) Providing for the protection of the natural, historic, cultural, and scenic character of the city or town or areas in the municipality.

  (6) Providing for the preservation and promotion of agricultural production, forest, silviculture, aquaculture, timber resources, and open space.

  (7) Providing for the protection of public investment in transportation, water, stormwater management systems, sewage treatment and disposal, solid waste treatment and disposal, schools, recreation, public facilities, open space, and other public requirements.

  (8) Promoting a balance of housing choices, for all income levels and groups, to assure the health, safety and welfare of all citizens and their rights to affordable, accessible, safe, and sanitary housing.

  (9) Providing opportunities for the establishment of low- and moderate-income housing.

  (10) Promoting safety from fire, flood, and other natural or unnatural disasters.

  (11) Promoting a high level of quality in design in the development of private and public facilities.

  (12) Promoting implementation of the comprehensive plan of the city or town adopted pursuant to chapter 22.2 of this title.

  (13) Providing for coordination of land uses with contiguous municipalities, other municipalities, the state, and other agencies, as appropriate, especially with regard to resources and facilities that extend beyond municipal boundaries or have a direct impact on that municipality.

  (14) Providing for efficient review of development proposals, to clarify and expedite the zoning approval process.

  (15) Providing for procedures for the administration of the zoning ordinance, including, but not limited to, variances, special-use permits, and, where adopted, procedures for modifications.

  (16) Providing opportunities for reasonable accommodations in order to comply with the Rhode Island Fair Housing Practices Act, chapter 37 of title 34; the United States Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (FHAA); the Rhode Island Civil Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, chapter 87 of title 42; and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.

  Provided, however, that any zoning ordinance in which a community sets forth standards or requirements for the location, design, construction, or maintenance of on-site wastewater treatment systems shall first be submitted to the director of the department of environmental management for approval as to the technical merits of the ordinance. In addition, any zoning ordinance in which a municipality sets forth standards regarding wetland requirements, shall first be submitted to the director of the department of environmental management for approval as to the technical merits of the ordinance.

(b) Upon the effective date of this section, a city or town shall no longer be authorized to adopt as a provision of its zoning ordinance new requirements that specify buffers or setbacks in relation to freshwater wetland, freshwater wetland in the vicinity of the coast, or coastal wetland or that specify setback distances between an onsite wastewater treatment system and a freshwater wetlands, freshwater wetland in the vicinity of the coast, or coastal wetland.

(c) Upon promulgation of state regulations to designate wetland buffers and setbacks pursuant to 2-1-18 through 2-1-28, cities and towns shall be prohibited from applying the requirements in existing zoning ordinances pertaining to both wetland buffers and onsite wastewater treatment system setbacks to development applications submitted to a municipality after the effective date of said state regulations. All applications for development that were submitted to a municipality prior to the effective date of state regulations designating wetland buffers and setbacks, will remain subject to, as applicable, the zoning provisions pertaining to wetland buffers or setbacks for onsite wastewater treatment systems that were in effect at the time the application was originally filed or granted approval, subject to the discretion of the municipality to waive such requirements. Nothing herein shall rescind the authority of a city or town to enforce local zoning requirements.

(d) Cities and towns shall act to amend their ordinances and regulations to conform to this section within twelve (12) months of the effective date of state regulations referenced herein.

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  § 45-24-31  Definitions. –

            Definition locater [A] [B] [C] [D] [E] [F] [G] [H] [I] [L] [M] [N] [O] [P] [S] [U] [V] [W] [Z]
            (Note: No terms beginning with the missing letters are defined in the Enabling Act.)

Where words or terms used in this chapter are defined in § 45-22.2-4, or 45-23-32, they have the meanings stated in that section. In addition, the following words have the following meanings. Additional words and phrases may be used in developing local ordinances under this chapter; however, the words and phrases defined in this section are controlling in all local ordinances created under this chapter:

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  (1) Abutter. One whose property abuts, that is, adjoins at a border, boundary, or point with no intervening land.

  (2) Accessory Dwelling Unit. A dwelling unit: (i) Rented to and occupied either by one or more members of the family of the occupant or occupants of the principal residence; or (ii) Reserved for rental occupancy by a person or a family where the principal residence is owner occupied, and that meets the following provisions:

  (A) In zoning districts that allow residential uses, no more than one accessory dwelling unit may be an accessory to a single-family dwelling.

  (B) An accessory dwelling unit shall include separate cooking and sanitary facilities, with its own legal means of ingress and egress and is a complete, separate dwelling unit. The accessory dwelling unit shall be within, or attached to, the principal dwelling-unit structure or within an existing structure, such as a garage or barn, and designed so that the appearance of the principal structure remains that of a one-family residence.

  (3) Accessory Use. A use of land or of a building, or portion thereof, customarily incidental and subordinate to the principal use of the land or building. An accessory use may be restricted to the same lot as the principal use. An accessory use shall not be permitted without the principal use to which it is related.

  (4) Aggrieved Party. An aggrieved party, for purposes of this chapter, shall be:

  (i) Any person, or persons, or entity, or entities, who or that can demonstrate that his, her, or its property will be injured by a decision of any officer or agency responsible for administering the zoning ordinance of a city or town; or

  (ii) Anyone requiring notice pursuant to this chapter.

  (5) Agricultural Land. "Agricultural land", as defined in § 45-22.2-4.

  (6) Airport Hazard Area. "Airport hazard area", as defined in § 1-3-2.

  (7) Applicant. An owner, or authorized agent of the owner, submitting an application or appealing an action of any official, board, or agency.

  (8) Application. The completed form, or forms, and all accompanying documents, exhibits, and fees required of an applicant by an approving authority for development review, approval, or permitting purposes.

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  (9) Buffer. Land that is maintained in either a natural or landscaped state, and is used to screen and/or mitigate the impacts of development on surrounding areas, properties, or rights-of-way.

  (10) Building. Any structure used or intended for supporting or sheltering any use or occupancy.

  (11) Building Envelope. The three-dimensional space within which a structure is permitted to be built on a lot and that is defined by regulations governing building setbacks, maximum height, and bulk; by other regulations; and/or by any combination thereof.

  (12) Building Height. For a vacant parcel of land, building height shall be measured from the average, existing-grade elevation where the foundation of the structure is proposed. For an existing structure, building height shall be measured from average grade taken from the outermost four (4) corners of the existing foundation. In all cases, building height shall be measured to the top of the highest point of the existing or proposed roof or structure. This distance shall exclude spires, chimneys, flag poles, and the like. For any property or structure located in a special flood hazard area, as shown on the official FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), where freeboard, as defined in this section, is being utilized or proposed, such freeboard area, not to exceed five feet (5'), shall be excluded from the building height calculation.

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  (13) Cluster. A site-planning technique that concentrates buildings in specific areas on the site to allow the remaining land to be used for recreation, common open space, and/or preservation of environmentally, historically, culturally, or other sensitive features and/or structures. The techniques used to concentrate buildings shall be specified in the ordinance and may include, but are not limited to, reduction in lot areas, setback requirements, and/or bulk requirements, with the resultant open land being devoted by deed restrictions for one or more uses. Under cluster development, there is no increase in the number of lots that would be permitted under conventional development except where ordinance provisions include incentive bonuses for certain types or conditions of development.

  (14) Common Ownership. Either:

  (i) Ownership by one or more individuals or entities in any form of ownership of two (2) or more contiguous lots; or

  (ii) Ownership by any association (ownership may also include a municipality) of one or more lots under specific development techniques.

  (15) Community Residence. A home or residential facility where children and/or adults reside in a family setting and may or may not receive supervised care. This does not include halfway houses or substance- abuse-treatment facilities. This does include, but is not limited, to the following:

  (i) Whenever six (6) or fewer children or adults with retardation reside in any type of residence in the community, as licensed by the state pursuant to chapter 24 of title 40.1. All requirements pertaining to local zoning are waived for these community residences;

  (ii) A group home providing care or supervision, or both, to not more than eight (8) persons with disabilities, and licensed by the state pursuant to chapter 24 of title 40.1;

  (iii) A residence for children providing care or supervision, or both, to not more than eight (8) children, including those of the care giver, and licensed by the state pursuant to chapter 72.1 of title 42;

  (iv) A community transitional residence providing care or assistance, or both, to no more than six (6) unrelated persons or no more than three (3) families, not to exceed a total of eight (8) persons, requiring temporary financial assistance, and/or to persons who are victims of crimes, abuse, or neglect, and who are expected to reside in that residence not less than sixty (60) days nor more than two (2) years. Residents will have access to, and use of, all common areas, including eating areas and living rooms, and will receive appropriate social services for the purpose of fostering independence, self-sufficiency, and eventual transition to a permanent living situation.

  (16) Comprehensive Plan. The comprehensive plan adopted and approved pursuant to chapter 22.2 of this title and to which any zoning adopted pursuant to this chapter shall be in compliance.

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  (17) Day Care – Day-Care Center. Any other day care center that is not a family day-care home.

  (18) Day Care – Family Day-Care Home. Any home, other than the individual's home, in which day care in lieu of parental care or supervision is offered at the same time to six (6) or less individuals who are not relatives of the care giver, but may not contain more than a total of eight (8) individuals receiving day care.

  (19) Density, Residential. The number of dwelling units per unit of land.

  (20) Development. The construction, reconstruction, conversion, structural alteration, relocation, or enlargement of any structure; any mining, excavation, landfill or land disturbance; or any change in use, or alteration or extension of the use, of land.

  (21) Development Plan Review. The process whereby authorized, local officials review the site plans, maps, and other documentation of a development to determine the compliance with the stated purposes and standards of the ordinance.

  (22) District. See "zoning-use district".

  (23) Drainage System. A system for the removal of water from land by drains, grading, or other appropriate means. These techniques may include runoff controls to minimize erosion and sedimentation during and after construction or development; the means for preserving surface and groundwaters; and the prevention and/or alleviation of flooding.

  (24) Dwelling Unit. A structure, or portion of a structure, providing complete, independent living facilities for one or more persons, including permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation, and containing a separate means of ingress and egress.

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  (25) Extractive Industry. The extraction of minerals, including: solids, such as coal and ores; liquids, such as crude petroleum; and gases, such as natural gases. The term also includes quarrying; well operation; milling, such as crushing, screening, washing, and flotation; and other preparation customarily done at the extraction site or as a part of the extractive activity.

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  (26) Family. A person, or persons, related by blood, marriage, or other legal means. See also "household".

  (27) Floating Zone. An unmapped zoning district adopted within the ordinance that is established on the zoning map only when an application for development, meeting the zone requirements, is approved.

  (28) Floodplains, or Flood Hazard Area. As defined in § 45-22.2-4.

  (29) Freeboard. A factor of safety expressed in feet above the base flood elevation of a flood hazard area for purposes of floodplain management. Freeboard compensates for the many unknown factors that could contribute to flood heights such as wave action, bridge openings, and the hydrological effect of urbanization of the watershed.

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  (30) Groundwater. "Groundwater" and associated terms, as defined in § 46-13.1-3.

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  (31) Halfway House. A residential facility for adults or children who have been institutionalized for criminal conduct and who require a group setting to facilitate the transition to a functional member of society.

  (32) Hardship. See § 45-24-41.

  (33) Historic District, or Historic Site. As defined in § 45-22.2-4.

  (34) Home Occupation. Any activity customarily carried out for gain by a resident, conducted as an accessory use in the resident's dwelling unit.

  (35) Household. One or more persons living together in a single-dwelling unit, with common access to, and common use of, all living and eating areas and all areas and facilities for the preparation and storage of food within the dwelling unit. The term "household unit" is synonymous with the term "dwelling unit" for determining the number of units allowed within any structure on any lot in a zoning district. An individual household shall consist of any one of the following:

  (i) A family, which may also include servants and employees living with the family; or

  (ii) A person or group of unrelated persons living together. The maximum number may be set by local ordinance, but this maximum shall not be less than three (3).

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  (36) Incentive Zoning. The process whereby the local authority may grant additional development capacity in exchange for the developer's provision of a public benefit or amenity as specified in local ordinances.

  (37) Infrastructure. Facilities and services needed to sustain residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, and other activities.

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  (38) Land-Development Project. A project in which one or more lots, tracts, or parcels of land are to be developed or redeveloped as a coordinated site for a complex of uses, units, or structures, including, but not limited to, planned development and/or cluster development for residential, commercial, institutional, recreational, open space, and/or mixed uses as may be provided for in the zoning ordinance.

  (39) Lot. Either:

  (i) The basic development unit for determination of lot area, depth, and other dimensional regulations; or

  (ii) A parcel of land whose boundaries have been established by some legal instrument, such as a recorded deed or recorded map, and which is recognized as a separate legal entity for purposes of transfer of title.

  (40) Lot Area. The total area within the boundaries of a lot, excluding any street right-of-way, usually reported in acres or square feet.

  (41) Lot Area, Minimum. The smallest land area established by the local zoning ordinance upon which a use, building, or structure may be located in a particular zoning district.

  (42) Lot Building Coverage. That portion of the lot that is, or may be, covered by buildings and accessory buildings.

  (43) Lot Depth. The distance measured from the front lot line to the rear lot line. For lots where the front and rear lot lines are not parallel, the lot depth is an average of the depth.

  (44) Lot Frontage. That portion of a lot abutting a street. A zoning ordinance shall specify how noncontiguous frontage will be considered with regard to minimum frontage requirements.

  (45) Lot Line. A line of record, bounding a lot, that divides one lot from another lot or from a public or private street or any other public or private space and shall include:

  (i) Front: the lot line separating a lot from a street right-of-way. A zoning ordinance shall specify the method to be used to determine the front lot line on lots fronting on more than one street, for example, corner and through lots;

  (ii) Rear: the lot line opposite and most distant from the front lot line, or in the case of triangular or otherwise irregularly shaped lots, an assumed line at least ten feet (10') in length entirely within the lot, parallel to and at a maximum distance from, the front lot line; and

  (iii) Side: any lot line other than a front or rear lot line. On a corner lot, a side lot line may be a street lot line, depending on requirements of the local zoning ordinance.

  (46) Lot Size, Minimum. Shall have the same meaning as "minimum lot area" defined herein.

  (47) Lot, Through. A lot that fronts upon two (2) parallel streets, or that fronts upon two (2) streets that do not intersect at the boundaries of the lot.

  (48) Lot Width. The horizontal distance between the side lines of a lot measured at right angles to its depth along a straight line parallel to the front lot line at the minimum front setback line.

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  (49) Mere Inconvenience. See § 45-24-41.

  (50) Mixed Use. A mixture of land uses within a single development, building, or tract.

  (51) Modification. Permission granted and administered by the zoning enforcement officer of the city or town, and pursuant to the provisions of this chapter to grant a dimensional variance other than lot area requirements from the zoning ordinance to a limited degree as determined by the zoning ordinance of the city or town, but not to exceed twenty-five percent (25%) of each of the applicable dimensional requirements.

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  (52) Nonconformance. A building, structure, or parcel of land, or use thereof, lawfully existing at the time of the adoption or amendment of a zoning ordinance and not in conformity with the provisions of that ordinance or amendment. Nonconformance is of only two (2) types:

  (i) Nonconforming by use: a lawfully established use of land, building, or structure that is not a permitted use in that zoning district. A building or structure containing more dwelling units than are permitted by the use regulations of a zoning ordinance is nonconformity by use; or

  (ii) Nonconforming by dimension: a building, structure, or parcel of land not in compliance with the dimensional regulations of the zoning ordinance. Dimensional regulations include all regulations of the zoning ordinance, other than those pertaining to the permitted uses. A building or structure containing more dwelling units than are permitted by the use regulations of a zoning ordinance is nonconforming by use; a building or structure containing a permitted number of dwelling units by the use regulations of the zoning ordinance, but not meeting the lot area per dwelling unit regulations, is nonconforming by dimension.

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  (53) Overlay District. A district established in a zoning ordinance that is superimposed on one or more districts or parts of districts. The standards and requirements associated with an overlay district may be more or less restrictive than those in the underlying districts consistent with other applicable state and federal laws.

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  (54) Performance Standards. A set of criteria or limits relating to elements that a particular use or process must either meet or may not exceed.

  (55) Permitted Use. A use by right that is specifically authorized in a particular zoning district.

  (56) Planned Development. A "land development project", as defined in § 45-24-31(38), and developed according to plan as a single entity and containing one or more structures and/or uses with appurtenant common areas.

  (57) Plant Agriculture. The growing of plants for food or fiber, to sell or consume.

  (58) Preapplication Conference. A review meeting of a proposed development held between applicants and reviewing agencies as permitted by law and municipal ordinance, before formal submission of an application for a permit or for development approval.

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  (59) Setback Line or Lines. A line, or lines, parallel to a lot line at the minimum distance of the required setback for the zoning district in which the lot is located that establishes the area within which the principal structure must be erected or placed.

  (60) Site Plan. The development plan for one or more lots on which is shown the existing and/or the proposed conditions of the lot.

  (61) Slope of Land. The grade, pitch, rise or incline of the topographic landform or surface of the ground.

  (62) Special Use. A regulated use which is permitted pursuant to the special-use permit issued by the authorized governmental entity, pursuant to § 45-24-42. Formerly referred to as a special exception.

  (63) Structure. A combination of materials to form a construction for use, occupancy, or ornamentation, whether installed on, above, or below, the surface of land or water.

  (64) Substandard Lot of Record. Any lot lawfully existing at the time of adoption or amendment of a zoning ordinance and not in conformance with the dimensional and/or area provisions of that ordinance.

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  (65) Use. The purpose or activity for which land or buildings are designed, arranged, or intended, or for which land or buildings are occupied or maintained.

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  (66) Variance. Permission to depart from the literal requirements of a zoning ordinance. An authorization for the construction or maintenance of a building or structure, or for the establishment or maintenance of a use of land, that is prohibited by a zoning ordinance. There are only two (2) categories of variance, a use variance or a dimensional variance.

  (i) Use Variance. Permission to depart from the use requirements of a zoning ordinance where the applicant for the requested variance has shown by evidence upon the record that the subject land or structure cannot yield any beneficial use if it is to conform to the provisions of the zoning ordinance.

  (ii) Dimensional Variance. Permission to depart from the dimensional requirements of a zoning ordinance, where the applicant for the requested relief has shown, by evidence upon the record, that there is no other reasonable alternative way to enjoy a legally permitted beneficial use of the subject property unless granted the requested relief from the dimensional regulations. However, the fact that a use may be more profitable or that a structure may be more valuable after the relief is granted are not grounds for relief.

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  (67) Waters. As defined in § 46-12-1(23).

  (68) Wetland, Coastal. As defined in § 45-22.2-4.

  (69) Wetland, Freshwater. As defined in § 2-1-20.

Definition locater
  (70) Zoning Certificate. A document signed by the zoning-enforcement officer, as required in the zoning ordinance, that acknowledges that a use, structure, building, or lot either complies with, or is legally nonconforming to, the provisions of the municipal zoning ordinance or is an authorized variance or modification therefrom.

  (71) Zoning Map. The map, or maps, that are a part of the zoning ordinance and that delineate the boundaries of all mapped zoning districts within the physical boundary of the city or town.

  (72) Zoning Ordinance. An ordinance enacted by the legislative body of the city or town pursuant to this chapter and in the manner providing for the adoption of ordinances in the city or town's legislative or home rule charter, if any, that establish regulations and standards relating to the nature and extent of uses of land and structures; that is consistent with the comprehensive plan of the city or town as defined in chapter 22.2 of this title; that includes a zoning map, and that complies with the provisions of this chapter.

  (73) Zoning-Use District. The basic unit in zoning, either mapped or unmapped, to which a uniform set of regulations applies, or a uniform set of regulations for a specified use. Zoning-use districts include, but are not limited to: agricultural, commercial, industrial, institutional, open space, and residential. Each district may include sub-districts. Districts may be combined.

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  § 45-24-32  Contents of zoning ordinances. – The zoning ordinance consists of the ordinance and other text, together with all charts, graphs, and other explanatory material, and the zoning map together with any explanatory matter shown on the ordinance. All municipal zoning ordinances shall include at a minimum the following provisions listed below and further described in this chapter:

  (1) A statement of purpose and consistency with the comprehensive plan;

  (2) Definitions;

  (3) General provisions;

  (4) Special provisions;

  (5) Procedures for the adoption of the ordinance or amendments;

  (6) Procedures for the administration of the ordinance or amendments;

  (7) Procedures for the appeal of the ordinance or amendments; and

  (8) A zoning map and supporting documentation.

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  § 45-24-33  Standard provisions. – (a) A zoning ordinance addresses each of the purposes stated in § 45-24-30 and addresses, through reasonable objective standards and criteria, the following general provisions which are numbered for reference purposes only except as prohibited by 45-24-30(b), 45-24-30(c), or 45-24-30(d):

  (1) Permitting, prohibiting, limiting, and restricting the development of land and structures in zoning districts, and regulating those land and structures according to their type and the nature and extent of their use;

  (2) Regulating the nature and extent of the use of land for residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, recreational, agricultural, open space, or other use or combination of uses, as the need for land for those purposes is determined by the city or town's comprehensive plan;

  (3) Permitting, prohibiting, limiting, and restricting buildings, structures, land uses, and other development by performance standards, or other requirements, related to air and water and groundwater quality, noise and glare, energy consumption, soil erosion and sedimentation, and/or the availability and capacity of existing and planned public or private services;

  (4) Regulating within each district and designating requirements for:

  (i) The height, number of stories, and size of buildings;

  (ii) The dimensions, size, lot coverage, floor area ratios, and layout of lots or development areas;

  (iii) The density and intensity of use;

  (iv) Access to air and light, views, and solar access;

  (v) Open space, yards, courts, and buffers;

  (vi) Parking areas, road design, and, where appropriate, pedestrian, bicycle, and other circulator systems;

  (vii) Landscaping, fencing, and lighting;

  (viii) Appropriate drainage requirements and methods to manage stormwater runoff;

  (ix) Public access to waterbodies, rivers, and streams; and

  (x) Other requirements in connection with any use of land or structure;

  (5) Permitting, prohibiting, limiting, and restricting development in flood plains or flood hazard areas and designated significant natural areas;

  (6) Promoting the conservation of energy and promoting energy-efficient patterns of development;

  (7) Providing for the protection of existing and planned public drinking water supplies, their tributaries and watersheds, and the protection of Narragansett Bay, its tributaries and watershed;

  (8) Providing for adequate, safe, and efficient transportation systems; and avoiding congestion by relating types and levels of development to the capacity of the circulation system, and maintaining a safe level of service of the system;

  (9) Providing for the preservation and enhancement of the recreational resources of the city or town;

  (10) Promoting an economic climate that increases quality job opportunities and the overall economic well-being of the city or town and the state;

  (11) Providing for pedestrian access to and between public and private facilities, including, but not limited to, schools, employment centers, shopping areas, recreation areas, and residences;

  (12) Providing standards for, and requiring the provision of, adequate and properly designed physical improvements, including plantings, and the proper maintenance of property;

  (13) Permitting, prohibiting, limiting, and restricting land use in areas where development is deemed to create a hazard to the public health or safety;

  (14) Permitting, prohibiting, limiting, and restricting extractive industries and earth removal and requiring restoration of land after these activities;

  (15) Regulating sanitary landfill, except as otherwise provided by state statute;

  (16) Permitting, prohibiting, limiting, and restricting signs and billboards and other outdoor advertising devices;

  (17) Designating airport hazard areas under the provisions of chapter 3 of title 1, and enforcement of airport hazard area zoning regulations under the provisions established in that chapter;

  (18) Designating areas of historic, cultural, and/or archaeological value and regulating development in those areas under the provisions of chapter 24.1 of this title;

  (19) Providing standards and requirements for the regulation, review, and approval of any proposed development in connection with those uses of land, buildings, or structures specifically designated as subject to development plan review in a zoning ordinance;

  (20) Designating special protection areas for water supply and limiting or prohibiting development in these areas, except as otherwise provided by state statute;

  (21) Specifying requirements for safe road access to developments from existing streets, including limiting the number, design, and location of curb cuts, and provisions for internal circulation systems for new developments, and provisions for pedestrian and bicycle ways; and

  (22) Reducing unnecessary delay in approving or disapproving development applications through provisions for preapplication conferences and other means.

  (23) Providing for the application of the Rhode Island Fair Housing Practices Act, chapter 37 of title 34, the United States Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (FHAA); the Rhode Island Civil Rights People with Disabilities Act, chapter 37 of title 42*; and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.

    [*Note: Should be chapter 87 of title 42]

  (24) Regulating drive-through windows of varied intensity of use when associated with land use activities and providing standards and requirements for the regulation, review, and approval of the drive-through windows, including, but not limited to:

  (i) identifying within which zoning districts drive-through windows may be permitted, prohibited, or permitted by special-use permit;

  (ii) specifying requirements for adequate traffic circulation; and

  (iii) providing for adequate pedestrian safety and access, including issues concerning safety and access for those with disabilities.

  (b) A zoning ordinance may include special provisions for any or all of the following:

  (1) Authorizing development incentives, including, but not limited to, additional permitted uses, increased development and density, or additional design or dimensional flexibility in exchange for:

  (i) Increased open space;

  (ii) Increased housing choices;

  (iii) Traffic and pedestrian improvements;

  (iv) Public and/or private facilities; and/or

  (v) Other amenities as desired by the city or town and consistent with its comprehensive plan. The provisions in the ordinance shall include maximum allowable densities of population and/or intensities of use and shall indicate the type of improvements, amenities, and/or conditions. Conditions may be made for donation in lieu of direct provisions for improvements or amenities;

  (2) Establishing a system for transfer of development rights within or between zoning districts designated in the zoning ordinance; and

  (3) Regulating the development adjacent to designated scenic highways, scenic waterways, major thoroughfares, public greenspaces, or other areas of special public investment or valuable natural resources.

  (c) Slope of land shall not be excluded from the calculation of the buildable lot area or the minimum lot size, or in the calculation of the number of buildable lots or units.

  (d) Nothing in this section shall be construed to restrict a municipality's right, within state and local regulations, to establish its own minimum lot size per zoning district in its town or city.

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  § 45-24-34  General provisions – Purpose and consistency with comprehensive plan. – (a) A zoning ordinance adopted pursuant to this chapter shall provide a statement of its purposes. Those purposes shall be consistent with section 45-24-30. A zoning ordinance adopted or amended pursuant to this chapter shall include a statement that the zoning ordinance is consistent with the comprehensive plan of the city or town adopted pursuant to chapter 22.2 of this title, or as otherwise provided below and shall provide that in the instance of uncertainty in the construction or application of any section of the ordinance, the ordinance shall be construed in a manner that will further the implementation of, and not be contrary to, the goals and policies and applicable elements of the comprehensive plan.

  (b) The city or town shall bring the zoning ordinance or amendment into conformance with its comprehensive plan as approved by the chief of the division of planning of the department of administration or the Superior Court in accordance with its implementation schedule as set forth in said plan. A zoning ordinance shall address and specify requirements for the coordination between contiguous communities, the state, and other agencies, as required by chapter 22.2 of this title.

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  § 45-24-35  General provisions – Definitions. – A zoning ordinance adopted pursuant to this chapter shall provide definitions for words or terms contained in the ordinance where it is deemed appropriate. Words or terms contained in any zoning ordinance, whether or not defined in the ordinance, that are substantially similar to words or terms defined in § 45-24-31 shall be construed according to the definitions provided in this chapter.

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  § 45-24-36  General provisions – Division into districts. – A zoning ordinance divides a city or town into zoning use districts, which may include overlay districts and floating zone districts, of the number, kind, type, shape, and area suitable to carry out the purposes of this chapter. Regulations and standards shall be consistent for each land use, type of development, or type of building or structure within a district, but may differ from those in other districts. Zoning use districts shall be depicted by type and location on the zoning map.

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  § 45-24-37  General provisions – Permitted uses. – (a) The zoning ordinance provides a listing of all land uses and/or performance standards for uses that are permitted within the zoning use districts of the municipality.

  (b) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the following uses are permitted uses within all residential zoning use districts of a municipality and all industrial and commercial zoning use districts except where residential use is prohibited for public health or safety reasons:

  (1) Households;

  (2) Community residences; and

  (3) Family day care homes.

  (c) Any time a building or other structure used for residential purposes, or a portion of a building containing residential units, is rendered uninhabitable by virtue of a casualty such as fire or flood, the owner of the property is allowed to park, temporarily, mobile and manufactured home, or homes, as the need may be, elsewhere upon the land, for use and occupancy of the former occupants for a period of up to twelve (12) months, or until the building or structure is rehabilitated and otherwise made fit for occupancy. The property owner, or a properly designated agent of the owner, is only allowed to cause the mobile and manufactured home, or homes, to remain temporarily upon the land by making timely application to the local building official for the purposes of obtaining the necessary permits to repair or rebuild the structure.

  (d) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, appropriate access for people with disabilities to residential structures is allowed as a reasonable accommodation for any person(s) residing, or intending to reside, in the residential structure.

  (e) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, an accessory family dwelling unit in an owner-occupied, single-family residence shall be permitted as a reasonable accommodation for family members with disabilities or who are sixty-two (62) years of age or older. The appearance of the structure shall remain that of a single-family residence and there shall be an internal means of egress between the principal unit and the accessory family dwelling unit. If possible, no additional exterior entrances should be added. Where an additional entrance is required, placement should generally be in the rear or side of the structure. When the structure is serviced by an individual, sewage-disposal system, the applicant shall have the existing or any new system approved by the department of environmental management. The zoning-enforcement officer shall require that a declaration of the accessory family dwelling unit for the family member, or members, and its restrictions be recorded in the land-evidence records and filed with the zoning-enforcement officer and the building official. Once the family member, or members, with disabilities or who are sixty-two (62) years of age or older, no longer reside in the premises on a permanent basis, or the title is transferred, the property owner shall notify the zoning official in writing, and the accessory family dwelling unit shall no longer be permitted, unless there is a subsequent, valid application.

  (f) When used in this section, the terms "people with disabilities" or "member, or members, with disabilities" means a person(s) who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more "major life activities" (as such term is defined in section 42-87-1(7)* of the general laws).

    *Should probably be "section 42-87-1(5)".

  (g) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, plant agriculture is a permitted use within all zoning districts of a municipality, including all industrial and commercial zoning districts, except where prohibited for public health or safety reasons or the protection of wildlife habitat.

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  § 45-24-38  General provisions – Substandard lots of record. – Any city or town adopting or amending a zoning ordinance under this chapter shall regulate the use or uses of any single substandard lot of record or contiguous lots of record at the effective date of adoption or amendment of the zoning ordinance notwithstanding the failure of that lot or those lots to meet the dimensional and/or quantitative requirements, and/or road frontage or other access requirements, applicable in the district as stated in the ordinance. Provisions may be made for the merger of contiguous unimproved, or improved and unimproved, substandard lots of record in the same ownership to create dimensionally conforming lots or to reduce the extent of dimensional nonconformance. The ordinance shall specify the standards, on a district by district basis, which determine the mergers. The standards include, but are not to be limited to, the availability of infrastructure, the character of the neighborhood, and the consistency with the comprehensive plan.

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  § 45-24-39  General provisions – Nonconforming development. – (a) Any city or town adopting or amending a zoning ordinance under this chapter shall make provision for any use, activity, structure, building, or sign or other improvement, lawfully existing at the time of the adoption or amendment of the zoning ordinance, but which is nonconforming by use or nonconforming by dimension. The zoning ordinance may regulate development which is nonconforming by dimension differently than that which is nonconforming by use.

  (b) The zoning ordinance shall permit the continuation of nonconforming development; however, this does not prohibit the regulation of nuisances.

  (c) A zoning ordinance may provide that, if a nonconforming use is abandoned, it may not be reestablished. Abandonment of a nonconforming use consists of some overt act, or failure to act, which leads one to believe that the owner of the nonconforming use neither claims nor retains any interest in continuing the nonconforming use unless the owner can demonstrate an intent not to abandon the use. An involuntary interruption of nonconforming use, as by fire and natural catastrophe, does not establish the intent to abandon the nonconforming use; however, if any nonconforming use is halted for a period of one year, the owner of the nonconforming use is presumed to have abandoned the nonconforming use, unless that presumption is rebutted by the presentation of sufficient evidence of intent not to abandon the use.

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  § 45-24-40  General provisions – Alteration of nonconforming development. – (a) A zoning ordinance may permit a nonconforming development to be altered under either of the following conditions:

  (1) The ordinance may establish a special-use permit, authorizing the alteration, which must be approved by the zoning board of review following the procedure established in this chapter and in the zoning ordinance; or

  (2) The ordinance may allow the addition and enlargment, expansion, intensification, or change in use, of nonconforming development either by permit or by right and may distinguish between the foregoing actions by zoning districts.

  (b) The ordinance may require that the alteration more closely adheres to the intent and purposes of the zoning ordinance.

  (c) A use established by variance or special use permit shall not acquire the rights of this section.

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  § 45-24-41  General provisions – Variances. – (a) An application for relief from the literal requirements of a zoning ordinance because of hardship may be made by any person, group, agency, or corporation by filing with the zoning enforcement officer or agency an application describing the request and supported by any data and evidence as may be required by the zoning board of review or by the terms of the ordinance. The zoning enforcement officer or agency shall immediately transmit each application received to the zoning board of review and a copy of each application to the planning board or commission.

  (b) A zoning ordinance provides that the zoning board of review, immediately upon receipt of an application for a variance in the application of the literal terms of the zoning ordinance, may request that the planning board or commission and/or staff report its findings and recommendations, including a statement on the general consistency of the application with the goals and purposes of the comprehensive plan of the city or town, in writing, to the zoning board of review within thirty (30) days of receipt of the application from that board. The zoning board shall hold a public hearing on any application for variance in an expeditious manner, after receipt, in proper form, of an application, and shall give public notice at least fourteen (14) days prior to the date of the hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in the city or town. Notice of hearing shall be sent by first-class mail to the applicant, and to at least all those who would require notice under § 45-24-53. The notice shall also include the street address of the subject property. A zoning ordinance may require that a supplemental notice, that an application for a variance is under consideration, be posted at the location in question. The posting is for information purposes only and does not constitute required notice of a public hearing. The cost of notification shall be borne by the applicant.

  (c) A zoning ordinance may provide for unified development review, pursuant to § 45-24-46.4. Requests for dimensional and use variances submitted under a unified development review provision of a zoning ordinance shall be submitted as part of the subdivision or land-development application to the administrative officer of the planning board or commission, pursuant to § 45-24-46.4(a). All subdivision or land-development applications submitted under the unified development review provisions of a zoning ordinance shall have a public hearing, which shall meet the requirements of 45-23-50.1(c).

  (d) In granting a variance, the zoning board of review, or, where unified development review is enabled pursuant to § 45-24-46.4, the planning board or commission, shall require that evidence to the satisfaction of the following standards is entered into the record of the proceedings:

  (1) That the hardship from which the applicant seeks relief is due to the unique characteristics of the subject land or structure and not to the general characteristics of the surrounding area; and is not due to a physical or economic disability of the applicant, excepting those physical disabilities addressed in § 45-24-30(16);

  (2) That the hardship is not the result of any prior action of the applicant and does not result primarily from the desire of the applicant to realize greater financial gain;

  (3) That the granting of the requested variance will not alter the general character of the surrounding area or impair the intent or purpose of the zoning ordinance or the comprehensive plan upon which the ordinance is based; and

  (4) That the relief to be granted is the least relief necessary.

  (e) The zoning board of review, or, where unified development review is enabled pursuant to § 45-24-46.4, the planning board or commission, shall, in addition to the above standards, require that evidence is entered into the record of the proceedings showing that:

  (1) In granting a use variance, the subject land or structure cannot yield any beneficial use if it is required to conform to the provisions of the zoning ordinance. Nonconforming use of neighboring land or structures in the same district and permitted use of lands or structures in an adjacent district shall not be considered in granting a use variance; and

  (2) In granting a dimensional variance, that the hardship suffered by the owner of the subject property if the dimensional variance is not granted amounts to more than a mere inconvenience. The fact that a use may be more profitable or that a structure may be more valuable after the relief is granted is not grounds for relief. The zoning board of review, or, where unified development review is enabled pursuant to § 45-24-46.4, the planning board or commission, has the power to grant dimensional variances where the use is permitted by special-use permit if provided for in the special use permit section of the zoning ordinance.

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  § 45-24-42  General provisions – Special-use permits. – (a) A zoning ordinance shall provide for the issuance of special-use permits approved by the zoning board of review, or, where unified development review is enabled pursuant to § 45-24-46.4, the planning board or commission.

  (b) The ordinance shall:

  (1) Specify the uses requiring special-use permits in each district;

  (2) Describe the conditions and procedures under which special-use permits, of each or the various categories of special-use permits established in the zoning ordinance, may be issued;

  (3) Establish criteria for the issuance of each category of special-use permit, that shall be in conformance with the purposes and intent of the comprehensive plan and the zoning ordinance of the city or town;

  (4) Provide for public hearings and notification of the date, time, place, and purpose of those hearings to interested parties. Special-use permit requests submitted under a zoning ordinance's unified development review provisions shall be heard and noticed in conjunction with the subdivision or land-development application, according to the requirements of 45-23-50.1. Public notice for special-use permits that are not submitted under a zoning ordinance's unified development review provisions shall be given at least fourteen (14) days prior to the date of the hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in the city or town. Notice of hearing shall be sent by first-class mail to the applicant, and to all those who would require notice under § 45-24-53. The notice shall also include the street address of the subject property. A zoning ordinance may require that a supplemental notice, that an application for a special-use permit is under consideration, be posted at the location in question. The posting is for information purposes only and does not constitute required notice of a public hearing. The cost of notification shall be borne by the applicant;

  (5) Provide for the recording of findings of fact and written decisions; and

  (6) Provide that appeals may be taken pursuant to § 45-24-70 or 45-23-66, dependent on the board to which application was made.

  (c) The ordinance additionally may provide that an applicant may apply for, and be issued, a dimensional variance in conjunction with a special-use permit. If the special use could not exist without the dimensional variance, the zoning board of review, or, where unified development review is enabled pursuant to § 45-24-46.4, the planning board or commission shall consider the special-use permit and the dimensional variance together to determine if granting the special use is appropriate based on both the special use criteria and the dimensional variance evidentiary standards.

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  § 45-24-43  General provisions – Special conditions. – In granting a variance or in making any determination upon which it is required to pass after a public hearing under a zoning ordinance, the zoning board of review or other zoning enforcement agency may apply the special conditions that may, in the opinion of the board or agency, be required to promote the intent and purposes of the comprehensive plan and the zoning ordinance of the city or town. Failure to abide by any special conditions attached to a grant constitutes a zoning violation. Those special conditions shall be based on competent credible evidence on the record, be incorporated into the decision, and may include, but are not limited to, provisions for:

  (1) Minimizing the adverse impact of the development upon other land, including the type, intensity, design, and performance of activities;

  (2) Controlling the sequence of development, including when it must be commenced and completed;

  (3) Controlling the duration of use or development and the time within which any temporary structure must be removed;

  (4) Assuring satisfactory installation and maintenance of required public improvements;

  (5) Designating the exact location and nature of development; and

  (6) Establishing detailed records by submission of drawings, maps, plats, or specifications.

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  § 45-24-44  General provisions – Creation of vested rights. – (a) A zoning ordinance provides protection for the consideration of applications for development that are substantially complete and have been submitted for approval to the appropriate review agency in the city or town prior to enactment of the new zoning ordinance or amendment.

  (b) Zoning ordinances or other land development ordinances or regulations specify the minimum requirements for a development application to be substantially complete for the purposes of this section.

  (c) Any application considered by a city or town under the protection of this section shall be reviewed according to the regulations applicable in the zoning ordinance in force at the time the application was submitted.

  (d) If an application for development under the provisions of this section is approved, reasonable time limits shall be set within which development of the property must begin and within which development must be substantially completed.

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  § 45-24-45  General provisions – Publication and availability of zoning ordinances. – (a) Printed copies of the zoning ordinance and map(s) of a city or town shall be available to the general public and revised to include all amendments. A reasonable charge may be made for copies to reflect printing and distribution costs.

  (b) Upon publication of a zoning ordinance and map, and any amendments to them, the city or town clerk shall send a copy, without charge, to the statewide planning program of the department of administration and to the state law library.

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  § 45-24-46  Special provisions – Modification. – (a) A zoning ordinance may provide for the issuance of modifications or adjustments from the literal dimensional requirements of the zoning ordinance in the instance of the construction, alteration, or structural modification of a structure or lot of record. If the ordinance allows modifications then the zoning enforcement officer is authorized to grant modification permits. The zoning ordinance establishes the maximum percent allowed for a modification, which shall not exceed twenty-five percent (25%), of any of the dimensional requirements specified in the zoning ordinance. A modification does not permit moving of lot lines. The zoning ordinance shall specify which dimensional requirements or combinations of these requirements are allowable under a modification. These requirements may differ by use or zoning district. Within ten (10) days of the receipt of a request for a modification, the zoning enforcement officer shall make a decision as to the suitability of the requested modification based on the following determinations:

  (1) The modification requested is reasonably necessary for the full enjoyment of the permitted use;

  (2) If the modification is granted, neighboring property will neither be substantially injured nor its appropriate use substantially impaired;

  (3) The modification requested is in harmony with the purposes and intent of the comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance of the city or town; and

  (4) The modification requested does not require a variance of a flood hazard requirement.

  (b) Upon an affirmative determination, the zoning enforcement officer shall notify, by registered or certified mail, all property owners abutting the property which is the subject of the modification request, and shall indicate the street address of the subject property in the notice, and shall publish in a newspaper of general circulation within the city or town that the modification will be granted unless written objection is received within thirty (30) days of the public notice. If written objection is received within thirty (30) days, the request for a modification shall be denied. In that case the changes requested will be considered a request for a variance and may only be issued by the zoning board of review following the standard procedures for variances. If no written objections are received within thirty (30) days, the zoning enforcement officer shall grant the modification. The zoning enforcement officer may apply any special conditions to the permit as may, in the opinion of the officer, be required to conform to the intent and purposes of the zoning ordinance. The zoning enforcement officer shall keep public records of all requests for modifications, and of findings, determinations, special conditions, and any objections received. Costs of any notice required under this subsection shall be borne by the applicant requesting the modification.

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  § 45-24-46.1   Inclusionary zoning. – (a) A zoning ordinance requiring the inclusion of affordable housing as part of a development shall provide that the housing will be affordable housing, as defined in 42-128-8.1(d)(1), that the affordable housing will constitute not less than ten percent (10%) of the total units in the development, and that the units will remain affordable for a period of not less than thirty (30) years from initial occupancy enforced through a land lease and/or deed restriction enforceable by the municipality and the state of Rhode Island.

  (b) A zoning ordinance which includes inclusionary zoning may provide that the affordable housing must be built on-site or utilize one or more alternative methods of production, including, but not limited to, off-site construction or rehabilitation, donation of land suitable for development of the required affordable units, and/or the payment of a fee-in-lieu of the construction or provision of affordable housing units. All projects subject to inclusionary zoning, density bonuses and other incentives shall be established by the community and shall apply to offset differential costs of below market units.

  (c) This fee-in-lieu of the construction or provision of affordable housing shall be the choice of the developer or builder applied on a per-unit basis and may be used for new developments, purchasing property and/or homes, rehabilitating properties, or any other manner which creates additional low or moderate income housing as defined in § 45-53-3(9).

  (1) For affordable single family homes and condominium units, the per-unit fee shall be the difference between the maximum affordable sales price for a family of four (4) earning eighty percent (80%) of the area median income as determined annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the average cost of developing a single unit of affordable housing. The average cost of developing a single unit of affordable housing shall be determined annually based on the average per-unit development cost of affordable homes financed by Rhode Island housing over the previous three (3) years, excluding existing units which received preservation financing.

  (2) Notwithstanding subsection (c)(1) of this section, in no case shall the per-unit fee for affordable single family homes and condominium units be less than forty thousand dollars ($40,000).

  (d) The municipality shall deposit all in-lieu payments into restricted accounts, which shall be allocated and spent only for the creation and development of affordable housing within the municipality serving individuals or families at or below eighty percent (80%) of the area median income. The municipality shall maintain a local affordable housing board to oversee the funds in the restricted accounts and shall allocate the funds within two (2) years. The municipality shall include in the housing element of their local comprehensive plan, if applicable, the process they will use to allocate the funds.

  (e) As an alternative to the provisions of subsection (d), the municipality may elect to transfer in-lieu payments promptly upon receipt or within the two (2) year period after receipt to the housing resources commission or Rhode Island housing for the purpose of developing affordable housing within that community.

  (f) Rhode Island housing shall report to the general assembly and the housing resources commission, the amount of fees-in-lieu collected by community, the projects that were provided funding with the fees, the dollar amounts allocated to the projects and the number of units created.

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  § 45-24-46.2   Special provisions – Transfer of development rights – North Kingstown. – (a) In addition to other powers granted to towns and cities by this chapter to establish and administer transfer of development rights programs, the town council of the town of North Kingstown may provide by ordinance for the transfer of development rights, as a voluntary program available to developers and property owners, in the manner set forth in this section.

  (b) The establishment, as provided for by this section, of a system for transfer of development rights within or between zoning districts, or a portion thereof, designated in the zoning ordinance shall be:

  (1) For the purpose of providing developers and property owners the ability to establish, certify, purchase, sell, convey, and/or hold land development rights; and

  (2) For one or more of the following purposes:

  (i) Preserving sensitive resource areas in the community such as groundwater reserves, wildlife habitat, agricultural lands, and public access to surface waters;

  (ii) Directing development away from sensitive resource areas to places better suited to increased levels of development such as established or proposed mixed use, commercial, village, or residential centers;

  (iii) Directing development to areas served by existing infrastructure such as established roadways, public water supply systems, centralized sewer collection systems, public transit and other utilities; or

  (iv) Shaping and balancing urban and rural development; and/or promoting a high level of quality in design in the development of private and public facilities and spaces.

  (c) For purposes of this section the following terms shall have the following meaning:

  (1) "Receiving area district" means a zoning district, which is established and mapped pursuant to a transfer of development rights ordinance and superimposed on one or more zoning use districts or portions thereof that is eligible to receive development rights through a major land development project review. As may be necessary or desirable to achieve the intended uses, density and intensity of use, a receiving area district may allow for additional development capacity and for increased lot building coverage and building envelope that are greater than those of the underlying zoning.

  (2) "Sending area district" means a zoning district, which is established and mapped pursuant to a transfer of development rights ordinance and superimposed on one or more zoning use districts or a portion thereof, that is eligible to establish development rights that may eventually be transferred to a receiving area.

      [Added P.L. 2010, ch. 194, 1; ch. 228, 1.]

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  § 45-24-46.3   Special provisions – Transfer of development rights – Exeter. – (a) In addition to other powers granted to towns and cities by this chapter to establish and administer transfer of development rights programs, the town council of the town of Exeter may provide by ordinance for the transfer of development rights, as a voluntary program available to developers and property owners, in the manner set forth in this section.

  (b) For purposes of this section the following terms shall have the following meaning:

  (1) "Receiving area district" means a zoning district, which is established and mapped pursuant to a transfer of development rights ordinance and superimposed on one or more zoning use districts or portions thereof, that is eligible to receive development rights through a major land development project review. As may be necessary or desirable to achieve the intended uses, density and intensity of use, a receiving area district may allow for additional development capacity and for increased lot building coverage and building envelope that are greater than those of the underlying zoning.

  (2) "Sending area district" means a zoning district, which is established and mapped pursuant to a transfer of development rights ordinance and superimposed on one or more zoning use districts or a portion thereof, that is eligible to establish development rights that may eventually be transferred to a receiving area.

  (c) The establishment, as provided for by this section, of a system for transfer of development rights within or between zoning districts, or a portion thereof, designated in the zoning ordinance shall be:

  (1) For the purpose of providing developers and property owners the ability to establish, certify, purchase, sell, convey, and/or hold land development rights; and

  (2) For one or more of the following purposes:

  (i) Preserving sensitive resource areas in the community such as groundwater reserves, wildlife habitat, agricultural lands, and public access to surface waters;

  (ii) Directing development away from sensitive resource areas to places better suited to increased levels of development such as established or proposed mixed use, commercial, village, or residential centers;

  (iii) Directing development to areas served by existing infrastructure such as established roadways, public water supply systems, centralized sewer collection systems, public transit and other utilities; or

  (iv) Shaping and balancing urban and rural development; and/or promoting a high level of quality in design in the development of private and public facilities and spaces.

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  § 45-24-46.4. Special provisions – Unified development review. – (a) A zoning ordinance may provide that review and approval of dimensional variances, use variances, and/or special-use permits for properties undergoing review by the planning board or commission as land-development or subdivision projects pursuant to 45-23-36, be conducted and decided by the planning board or commission. This process is to be known as unified development review.

(b) If unified development review is desired, such review must be enabled within the zoning ordinance, in accordance with this section, and the local subdivision and land-development regulations must be brought into conformance, pursuant to 45-23-50.1.

(c) A zoning ordinance that provides for unified development review shall:

(1) Specify which types of zoning approval the planning board or commission shall be empowered to grant for which types of projects; and

(2) Provide that any person, group, agency, or corporation that files an application for an included land development or subdivision project may also file requests for relief from the literal requirements of a zoning ordinance on the subject property, pursuant to § 45-24-41, and/or for the issuance of special-use permits for the subject property, pursuant to § 45-24-42, by including such within the application to the administrative officer of the planning board or commission with the other required application materials, pursuant to 45-23-50.1(b).

(d) A zoning ordinance that provides for unified development review may specify design, use, public benefit, or other relevant criteria that must be met in order for an application to qualify for review under the unified development review provisions of the zoning ordinance. Certification as to whether an application meets the established criteria shall be conducted in conjunction with, and following the time lines outlined for, certification of completeness of the application, pursuant to 45-23-38(c), 45-23-40(b), or 45-23-41(b).

(e) All land development and subdivision applications that include requests for variances and/or special-use permits submitted pursuant to this section shall require a public hearing that meets the requirements of 45-23-50.1(b) and 45-23-50.1(c).

(f) In granting requests for dimensional and use variances, the planning board or commission shall be bound to the requirements of 45-24-41(d) and 45-24-41(e) relative to entering evidence into the record in satisfaction of the applicable standards.

(g) In reviewing requests for special-use permits, the planning board or commission shall be bound to the conditions and procedures under which a special-use permit may be issued and the criteria for the issuance of such permits, as found within the zoning ordinance pursuant to 45-24-42(b)(1), 45-24-42(b)(2) and 45-24-42(b)(3), and shall be required to provide for the recording of findings of fact and written decisions as described in the zoning ordinance pursuant to § 45-24-42(b)(5).

(h) An appeal from any decision made pursuant to this section may be taken pursuant to 45-23-66.

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  § 45-24-47  Special provisions – Land development projects. – (a) A zoning ordinance may provide for land development projects which are projects in which one or more lots, tracts, or parcels of land are to be developed or redeveloped as a coordinated site for a complex of uses, units, or structures, including, but not limited to, planned development and/or cluster development for residential, commercial, institutional, industrial, recreational, open space, and/or mixed uses as may be provided for in the zoning ordinance.

  (b) A zoning ordinance adopted pursuant to this chapter which permits or requires the creation of land development projects in one or more zoning districts shall require that any land development project is referred to the city or town planning board or commission for approval, in accordance with the procedures established by chapter 23 of this title, including those for appeal and judicial review, and with any ordinances or regulations adopted pursuant to the procedures, whether or not the land development project constitutes a "subdivision", as defined in Chapter 23 of this title. No land development project shall be initiated until a plan of the project has been submitted to the planning board or commission and approval has been granted by the planning board or commission. In reviewing, hearing, and deciding upon a land development project, the city or town planning board or commission may be empowered to allow zoning incentives within the project; provided, that standards for the adjustments are described in the zoning ordinance, and may be empowered to apply any special conditions and stipulations to the approval that may, in the opinion of the planning board or commission, be required to maintain harmony with neighboring uses and promote the objectives and purposes of the comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance.

  (c) In regulating land development projects, an ordinance adopted pursuant to this chapter may include, but is not limited to, regulations governing the following:

  (1) A minimum area or site size for a land development project;

  (2) Uses to be permitted within the development;

  (3) Ratios of residential to nonresidential uses where applicable;

  (4) Maximum density per lot and maximum density for the entire development, with provisions for adjustment of applicable lot density and dimensional standards where open space is to be permanently set aside for public or common use, and/or where the physical characteristics, location, or size of the site require an adjustment, and/or where the location, size, and type of housing, commercial, industrial, or other use require an adjustment, and/or where housing for low and moderate income families is to be provided, or where other amenities not ordinarily required are provided, as stipulated in the zoning ordinance. Provision may be made for adjustment of applicable lot density and dimensional standards for payment or donation of other land or facilities in lieu of an on-site provision of an amenity that would, if provided on-site, enable an adjustment;

  (5) Roads, driveways, utilities, parking, and other facilities; regulations may distinguish between those facilities intended to remain in private ownership or to be dedicated to the public; and

  (6) Buffer areas, landscaping, screening, and shading.

  (d) A zoning ordinance provides that open land provided by a cluster development or other land development project for public or common use, shall either: (1) be conveyed to the city or town and accepted by it for park, open space, agricultural, or other specified use or uses, or (2) be conveyed to a nonprofit organization, the principal purpose of which is the conservation of open space or resource protection, or (3) be conveyed to a corporation or trust owned or to be owned by the owners of lots or units within the development, or owners of shares within a cooperative development. If such a corporation or trust is used, ownership shall pass with conveyances of the lots or units, or (4) remain in private ownership if the use is limited to agriculture, habitat or forestry, and the city or town has set forth in its community comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance that private ownership is necessary for the preservation and management of the agricultural, habitat or forest resources.

In any case where the land is not conveyed to the city or town: (i) a restriction, in perpetuity, enforceable by the city or town: or by any owner of property in the cluster or other land development project in which the land is located shall be recorded providing that the land is kept in the authorized condition(s) and not built upon or developed for accessory uses such as parking or roadway; and

(ii) the developmental rights and other conservation easements on the land may be held, in perpetuity, by a nonprofit organization, the principal purpose of which is the conservation of open space or resource protection.

All open space land provided by a cluster development or other land development project shall be subject to a community approved management plan that will specify the permitted uses for the open space.

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  § 45-24-48  Special provisions – Preapplication conference. – A zoning ordinance may provide for a preapplication conference for specific types of development proposals. A preapplication conference is intended to allow the designated agency to:

  (1) Acquaint the applicant with the comprehensive plan and any specific plans that apply to the parcel, as well as the zoning and other ordinances that affect the proposed development;

  (2) Suggest improvements to the proposed design on the basis of a review of the sketch plan;

  (3) Advise the applicant to consult appropriate authorities on the character and placement of public utility services; and

  (4) Help the applicant to understand the steps to be taken to receive approval.

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  § 45-24-49  Special provisions – Development plan review. – (a) A zoning ordinance may permit development plan review of applications for uses requiring a special-use permit, a variance, a zoning ordinance amendment, and/or a zoning map change. The review shall be conducted by the planning board or commission and shall be advisory to the permitting authority. [Amended by P.L. 2009, ch. 310, 55.]

  (b) A zoning ordinance may permit development plan review of applications for uses that are permitted by right under the zoning ordinance, but the review shall only be based on specific and objective guidelines which must be stated in the zoning ordinance. The review body shall also be set forth in and be established by the zoning ordinance. A rejection of the application shall be considered an appealable decision pursuant to § 45-24-64. [Amended by P.L. 2009, ch. 310, 55.]

  (c) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to permit waivers of any regulations unless approved by the permitting authority pursuant to the local ordinance and this act.

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  § 45-24-50  Adoption – Power of council to adopt – Consistency with comprehensive plan. – (a) For the purpose of promoting the public health, safety, morals, and general welfare, a city or town council has the power, in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, to adopt, amend, or repeal, and to provide for the administration, interpretation, and enforcement of, a zoning ordinance. The provisions of a zoning ordinance are stated in text and map(s), and may incorporate charts or other material.

  (b) A zoning ordinance, and all amendments to it, must be consistent with the city or town's comprehensive plan, as described in chapter 22.2 of this title, and provide for the implementation of the city or town comprehensive plan.

  (c) A zoning ordinance adopted or amended during the pendency of the approval of a municipality's comprehensive plan must be consistent with that plan, until the zoning ordinance is brought into full compliance with the Comprehensive Planning Act, subdivision 45-22.2-5(a)(4).

  (d) The city or town must bring the zoning ordinance or amendment into conformance with its comprehensive plan as approved by the chief of the division of planning of the department of administration or the Superior Court in accordance with its implementation schedule as set forth in said plan.

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  § 45-24-51  Adoption – Procedure for adoption or amendment. – The city or town shall designate the officer or agency to receive a proposal for adoption, amendment, or repeal of a zoning ordinance or zoning map(s). Immediately upon receipt of the proposal, the officer or agency shall refer the proposal to the city or town council, and to the planning board or commission of the city or town for study and recommendation. The planning board or commission shall, in turn, notify and seek the advice of the city or town planning department, if any, and report to the city or town council within forty-five (45) days after receipt of the proposal, giving its findings and recommendations as prescribed in § 45-24-52. Where a proposal for adoption, amendment, or repeal of a zoning ordinance or zoning map is made by the city or town planning board or commission, the requirements for study by the board may be waived; provided, that the proposal by the planning board includes its findings and recommendations pursuant to § 45-24-52. The city or town council shall hold a public hearing within sixty-five (65) days of receipt of a proposal, giving proper notice as prescribed in § 45-24-53. The city or town council shall render a decision on any proposal within forty-five (45) days after the date of completion of the public hearing. The provisions of this section pertaining to deadlines shall not be construed to apply to any extension consented to by an applicant.

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  § 45-24-52  Adoption – Review by planning board or commission. – Among its findings and recommendations to the city or town council with respect to a proposal for adoption, amendment, or repeal of a zoning ordinance or zoning map, the planning board or commission shall:

  (1) Include a statement on the general consistency of the proposal with the comprehensive plan of the city or town, including the goals and policies statement, the implementation program, and all other applicable elements of the comprehensive plan; and

  (2) Include a demonstration of recognition and consideration of each of the applicable purposes of zoning, as presented in § 45-24-30.

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  § 45-24-53  Adoption – Notice and hearing requirements. – (a) No zoning ordinance shall be adopted, repealed, or amended until after a public hearing has been held upon the question before the city or town council. The city or town council shall first give notice of the public hearing by publication of notice in a newspaper of general circulation within the city or town at least once each week for three (3) successive weeks prior to the date of the hearing, which may include the week in which the hearing is to be held, at which hearing opportunity shall be given to all persons interested to be heard upon the matter of the proposed ordinance. Written notice, which may be a copy of the newspaper notice, shall be mailed to the statewide planning program of the department of administration, and, where applicable, to the parties specified in subsections (b), (c), (d), and (e) of this section, at least two (2) weeks prior to the hearing. The newspaper notice shall be published as a display advertisement, using a type size at least as large as the normal type size used by the newspaper in its news articles, and shall:

  (1) Specify the place of the hearing and the date and time of its commencement;

  (2) Indicate that adoption, amendment, or repeal of a zoning ordinance is under consideration;

  (3) Contain a statement of the proposed amendments to the ordinance that may be printed once in its entirety, or summarize and describe the matter under consideration as long as the intent and effect of the proposed ordinance is expressly written in that notice;

  (4) Advise those interested where and when a copy of the matter under consideration may be obtained or examined and copied; and

  (5) State that the proposals shown on the ordinance may be altered or amended prior to the close of the public hearing without further advertising, as a result of further study or because of the views expressed at the public hearing. Any alteration or amendment must be presented for comment in the course of the hearing.

  (b) Where a proposed general amendment to an existing zoning ordinance includes changes in an existing zoning map, public notice shall be given as required by subsection (a) of this section.

  (c) Where a proposed amendment to an existing ordinance includes a specific change in a zoning district map, but does not affect districts generally, public notice shall be given as required by subsection (a) of this section, with the additional requirements that:

  (1) Notice shall include a map showing the existing and proposed boundaries, zoning district boundaries, existing streets and roads and their names, and city and town boundaries where appropriate; and

  (2) Written notice of the date, time, and place of the public hearing and the nature and purpose of the hearing shall be sent to all owners of real property whose property is located in or within not less than two hundred feet (200') of the perimeter of the area proposed for change, whether within the city or town or within an adjacent city or town. The notice shall be sent by registered, certified, or first-class mail to the last known address of the owners, as shown on the current real estate tax assessment records of the city or town in which the property is located; provided, for any notice sent by first-class mail, the sender of the notice shall utilize and obtain a United States Postal Service certificate of mailing, PS form 3817, or any applicable version thereof, to demonstrate proof of such mailing.

  (d) Notice of a public hearing shall be sent by first-class mail to the city or town council of any city or town to which one or more of the following pertain:

  (1) That is located in or within not less than two hundred feet (200') of the boundary of the area proposed for change; or

  (2) Where there is a public or quasi-public water source, or private water source that is used, or is suitable for use, as a public water source, within two thousand feet (2,000') of any real property that is the subject of a proposed zoning change, regardless of municipal boundaries.

  (e) Notice of a public hearing shall be sent to the governing body of any state or municipal water department or agency, special water district, or private water company that has riparian rights to a surface water resource and/or surface watershed that is used, or is suitable for use, as a public water source and that is within two thousand feet (2,000') of any real property that is the subject of a proposed zoning change; provided, that the governing body of any state or municipal water department or agency, special water district, or private water company has filed with the building inspector in the city or town a map survey, that shall be kept as a public record, showing areas of surface water resources and/or watersheds and parcels of land within two thousand feet (2,000') thereof.

  (f) Notwithstanding any of the requirements set forth in subsections (a) through (e) above, each municipality shall establish and maintain a public notice registry allowing any person or entity to register for electronic notice of any changes to the zoning ordinance. The city or town shall provide public notice annually of the existence of the electronic registry by publication of notice in a newspaper of general circulation within the city or town. In addition, each municipality is hereby encouraged to provide public notice of the existence of the public notice registry in all of its current and future communications with the public, including, but not limited to, governmental websites, electronic newsletters, public bulletins, press releases and all other means the municipality may use to impart information to the local community.

  (1) Provided, however, notice pursuant to a public notice registry as per this section does not alone qualify a person or entity on the public notice registry as an "aggrieved party" under § 45-24-31(4).

  (g) No defect in the form of any notice under this section shall render any ordinance or amendment invalid, unless the defect is found to be intentional or misleading.

  (h) Costs of any notice required under this section shall be borne by the applicant.

  (i) In granting a zoning ordinance amendment, notwithstanding the provisions of § 45-24-37, the town or city council may limit the change to one of the permitted uses in the zone to that the subject land is rezoned and impose limitations, conditions, and restrictions, including, without limitation: (1) Requiring the petitioner to obtain a permit or approval from any and all state or local governmental agencies or instrumentalities having jurisdiction over the land and use that are the subject of the zoning change; (2) Those relating to the effectiveness or continued effectiveness of the zoning change; and/or (3) Those relating to the use of the land as it deems necessary. The responsible town or city official shall cause the limitations and conditions so imposed to be clearly noted on the zoning map and recorded in the land evidence records; provided, that in the case of a conditional zone change, the limitations, restrictions, and conditions shall not be noted on the zoning map until the zone change has become effective. If the permitted use for which the land has been rezoned is abandoned or if the land is not used for the requested purpose for a period of two (2) years or more after the zone change becomes effective, the town or city council may, after a public hearing, change the land to its original zoning use before the petition was filed. If any limitation, condition, or restriction in an ordinance is held to be invalid by a court in any action, that holding shall not cause the remainder of the ordinance to be invalid.

  (j) The above requirements are to be construed as minimum requirements.

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  § 45-24-54  Administration – Administration and enforcement of zoning ordinance. – A zoning ordinance adopted pursuant to this chapter must provide for the administration and enforcement of its provisions pursuant to this chapter. The zoning ordinance must designate the local official or agency and specify minimum qualifications for the person or persons charged with its administration and enforcement, including: (1) the issuing of any required permits or certificates; (2) collection of required fees; (3) keeping of records showing the compliance of uses of land; (4) authorizing commencement of uses or development under the provisions of the zoning ordinance; (5) inspection of suspected violations; (6) issuance of violation notices with required correction action; (7) collection of fines for violations; and (8) performing any other duties and taking any actions that may be assigned in the ordinance. In order to provide guidance or clarification, the zoning enforcement officer or agency shall, upon written request, issue a zoning certificate or provide information to the requesting party as to the determination by the official or agency within fifteen (15) days of the written request. In the event that no written response is provided within that time, the requesting party has the right to appeal to the zoning board of review for the determination.

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  § 45-24-55  Administration – Maintenance of zoning ordinance. – The city or town clerk is the custodian of the zoning ordinance and zoning map or maps created under the ordinance. A zoning ordinance designates:

  (1) The officer(s) or agency(ies) responsible for the maintenance and update of the text and zoning map comprising the zoning ordinance. Changes which impact the zoning map shall be depicted on the map within ninety (90) days of the authorized change(s); and

  (2) The office or agency responsible for the review of the zoning ordinance at reasonable intervals; and, whenever changes are made to the comprehensive plan of the city or town, for the identification of any changes necessary and for the forwarding of these changes to the city or town council.

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  § 45-24-56  Administration – Zoning board of review. – Establishment and procedures. – (a) A zoning ordinance adopted pursuant to this chapter shall provide for the creation of a zoning board of review and for the appointment of members, including alternate members, and for the organization of the board, as specified in the zoning ordinance, or, in cities and towns with home rule or legislative charters, as provided in the charter. A zoning ordinance may provide for remuneration to the zoning board of review members and for reimbursement for expenses incurred in the performance of official duties. A zoning board of review may engage legal, technical, or clerical assistance to aid in the discharge of its duties. The board shall establish written rules of procedure, a mailing address to which appeals and correspondence to the zoning board of review are sent, and an office where records and decisions are filed.

  (b) The zoning board of review consists of five (5) members, each to hold office for the term of five (5) years; provided, that the original appointments are made for terms of one, two (2), three (3), four (4), and five (5) years, respectively. The zoning board of review also includes two (2) alternates to be designated as the first and second alternate members, their terms to be set by the ordinance, but not to exceed five (5) years. These alternate members shall sit and may actively participate in hearings. The first alternate shall vote if a member of the board is unable to serve at a hearing and the second shall vote if two (2) members of the board are unable to serve at a hearing. In the absence of the first alternate member, the second alternate member shall serve in the position of the first alternate. No member or alternate may vote on any matter before the board unless they have attended all hearings concerning that matter. Where not provided for in the city or town charter, the zoning ordinance shall specify procedures for filling vacancies in unexpired terms of zoning board members, and for removal of members for due cause.

  (c) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (b), the zoning board of review of the town of Jamestown consists of five (5) members, each to hold office for the term of five (5) years; provided, that the original appointments are made for terms of one, two (2), three (3), four (4) and five (5) years respectively. The zoning board of review of the town of Jamestown also includes three (3) alternates to be designated as the first, second, and third alternate members, their terms to be set by the ordinance, but not to exceed five (5) years. These alternate members shall sit and may actively participate in hearings. The first alternate shall vote if a member of the board is unable to serve at a hearing; the second shall vote if two (2) members of the board are unable to serve at a hearing; and the third shall vote if three (3) members of the board are unable to serve at a hearing. In the absence of the first alternate member, the second alternate member shall serve in the position of the first alternate. No member or alternate may vote on any matter before the board unless they have attended all hearings concerning that matter. Where not provided for in the town charter, the zoning ordinance shall specify procedures for filling vacancies in unexpired terms of zoning board members, and for removal of members for due cause.

  (d) Members of zoning boards of review serving on the effective date of adoption of a zoning ordinance under this chapter are exempt from the provisions of this chapter respecting terms of originally appointed members until the expiration of their current terms.

  (e) The chairperson, or in his or her absence, the acting chairperson, may administer oaths and compel the attendance of witnesses by the issuance of subpoenas.

  (f) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (b) of this section, the zoning board of review for the town of Little Compton shall consist of five (5) members, each to hold office for the term of five (5) years. The zoning board of review for the town of Little Compton shall also include three (3) alternates to be designated as the first [1st], second [2nd] and third [3rd] alternate members, their terms to be set by the ordinance, but not to exceed five (5) years. These alternate members shall sit and may actively participate in the hearings. The first alternate shall vote if a member of the board is unable to serve at a hearing; the second shall vote if two (2) members of the board are unable to serve at a hearing; and the third shall vote if three (3) members of the board are unable to serve at a hearing. In the absence of the first alternate member, the second alternate member shall serve in the position of the first alternate. No member or alternate may vote on any matter before the board unless they have attended all hearings concerning that matter. Where not provided for in the town charter, the zoning ordinance shall specify procedures for filling vacancies in unexpired terms of zoning board members, and for removal of members for due cause.

  (g) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (b) of this section, the zoning board of review for the town of Charlestown shall consist of five (5) members, each to hold office for the term of five (5) years. The zoning board of review for the town of Charlestown shall also include three (3) alternates to be designated as the first [1st], second [2nd] and third [3rd] alternate members, their terms to be set by the ordinance, but not to exceed five (5) years. These alternate members shall sit and may actively participate in the hearings. The first alternate shall vote if a member of the board is unable to serve at a hearing; the second shall vote if two (2) members of the board are unable to serve at a hearing; and the third shall vote if three (3) members of the board are unable to serve at a hearing. In the absence of the first alternate member, the second alternate member shall serve in the position of the first alternate. No member or alternate may vote on any matter before the board unless they have attended all hearings concerning that matter. Where not provided for in the town charter, the zoning ordinance shall specify procedures for filling vacancies in unexpired terms of zoning board members, and for removal of members for due cause.

  (h) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (b) of this section, the zoning board of review for the town of Scituate shall consist of five (5) members, each to hold office for the term of five (5) years. The zoning board of review for the town of Scituate shall also include three (3) alternates to be designated as the first (1st), second (2nd) and third (3rd) alternate members, their terms to be set by the ordinance, but not to exceed five (5) years. These alternate members shall sit and may actively participate in the hearings. The first alternate shall vote if a member of the board is unable to serve at a hearing; the second shall vote if two (2) members of the board are unable to serve at a hearing; and the third shall vote if three (3) members of the board are unable to serve at a hearing. In the absence of the first alternate member, the second alternate member shall serve in the position of the first alternate. No member or alternate may vote on any matter before the board unless they have attended all hearings concerning that matter. Where not provided for in the town charter, the zoning ordinance shall specify procedures for filling vacancies in unexpired terms of zoning board members, and for removal of members for due cause.

  (i) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (b) of this section, the zoning board of review for the town of Middletown shall consist of five (5) members, each to hold office for a term of five (5) years. The zoning board of review for the town of Middletown shall also include three (3) alternates to be designated as the first, second, and third alternate members, their terms to be set by the ordinance, but not to exceed five (5) years. These alternate members shall sit and may actively participate in the hearings. The first alternate shall vote if a member of the board is unable to serve at a hearing; the second shall vote if two (2) members of the board are unable to serve at a hearing; and the third shall vote if three (3) members of the board are unable to serve at a hearing. In the absence of the first alternate member, the second alternate member shall serve in the position of the first alternate. No member or alternate may vote on any matter before the board unless they have attended all hearings concerning that matter. Where not provided for in the town charter, the zoning ordinance shall specify procedures for filling vacancies in unexpired terms of zoning board members, and for removal of members for due cause.

  (j) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (b) of this section, the zoning board of review of the city of Cranston shall consist of five (5) members, each to hold office for a term of five (5) years. The zoning board of review of the city of Cranston shall also include four (4) alternates to be designated as the first (1st), second (2nd), third (3rd), and fourth (4th), alternate members, to be appointed for a term of one year. These alternate members shall sit and may actively participate in all zoning hearings. The first alternate shall vote if a member of the board is unable to serve at the hearing; the second alternate shall vote if two (2) members of the board are unable to serve at the hearing; the third alternate shall vote if three (3) members of the board are unable to serve at the hearing; and the fourth alternate shall vote if four (4) members of the board are unable to serve at the hearing. In the absence of the first alternate member, the second alternate member shall serve in the position of the first alternate. No member or alternate may vote on any matter before the board unless they have attended all hearings concerning that matter. Where not provided for in the city charter, the zoning ordinance shall specify procedures for filling vacancies during the unexpired terms of zoning board members and for removal of members for due cause.

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  § 45-24-57  Administration – Powers and duties of zoning board of review. – A zoning ordinance adopted pursuant to this chapter shall provide that the zoning board of review shall:

  (1) Have the following powers and duties:

  (i) To hear and decide appeals within sixty-five (65) days of the date of the filing of the appeal where it is alleged there is an error in any order, requirement, decision, or determination made by an administrative officer or agency in the enforcement or interpretation of this chapter, or of any ordinance adopted pursuant hereto;

  (ii) To hear and decide appeals from a party aggrieved by a decision of an historic district commission, pursuant to §§ 45-24.1-7.1 and 45-24.1-7.2;

  (iii) To hear and decide appeals where the zoning board of review is appointed as the board of appeals for airport zoning regulations, pursuant to § 1-3-19;

  (iv) To authorize, upon application, in specific cases of hardship, variances in the application of the terms of the zoning ordinance, pursuant to § 45-24-41;

  (v) To authorize, upon application, in specific cases, special-use permits, pursuant to § 45-24-42, where the zoning board of review is designated as a permit authority for special-use permits;

  (vi) To refer matters to the planning board or commission, or to other boards or agencies of the city or town as the zoning board of review may deem appropriate, for findings and recommendations;

  (vii) To provide for the issuance of conditional zoning approvals where a proposed application would otherwise be approved except that one or more state or federal agency approvals which are necessary are pending. A conditional zoning approval shall be revoked in the instance where any necessary state or federal agency approvals are not received within a specified time period; and

  (viii) To hear and decide other matters, according to the terms of the ordinance or other statutes, and upon which the board may be authorized to pass under the ordinance or other statutes; and

  (2) Be required to vote as follows:

  (i) Five (5) active members are necessary to conduct a hearing. As soon as a conflict occurs for a member, that member shall recuse himself or herself, shall not sit as an active member, and shall take no part in the conduct of the hearing. Only five (5) active members are entitled to vote on any issue;

  (ii) The concurring vote of three (3) of the five (5) members of the zoning board of review sitting at a hearing are necessary to reverse any order, requirement, decision, or determination of any zoning administrative officer from whom an appeal was taken; and

  (iii) The concurring vote of four (4) of the five (5) members of the zoning board of review sitting at a hearing are required to decide in favor of an applicant on any matter within the discretion of the board upon which it is required to pass under the ordinance, including variances and special-use permits.

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  § 45-24-58  Administration – Application procedure. – The zoning ordinance establishes the various application procedures necessary for the filing of appeals, requests for variances, special-use permits, development plan reviews, site plan reviews, and other applications that may be specified in the zoning ordinance, with the zoning board of review, consistent with the provisions of this chapter. The zoning ordinance provides for the creation of appropriate forms, and for the submission and resubmission requirements, for each type of application required. A zoning ordinance may establish that a time period of a certain number of months is required to pass before a successive similar application may be filed.

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  § 45-24-59  Administration – Fees. – A zoning ordinance adopted pursuant to this chapter may provide for reasonable fees, in an amount not to exceed actual costs incurred, to be paid by the appellant or applicant for the adequate review and hearing of applications, the issuance of zoning certificates, and for the recording of the decisions.

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  § 45-24-60  Administration – Violations. – (a) A zoning ordinance adopted pursuant to this chapter provides for a penalty for any violation of the zoning ordinance, or for a violation of any terms or conditions of any action imposed by the zoning board of review or of any other agency or officer charged in the ordinance with enforcement of any of its provisions. The penalty for the violation must reasonably relate to the seriousness of the offense, and not exceed five hundred dollars ($500) for each violation, and each day of the existence of any violation is deemed to be a separate offense. Any fine inures to the city or town.

  (b) The city or town may also cause suit to be brought in the supreme or superior court, or any municipal court, including a municipal housing court having jurisdiction, in the name of the city or town, to restrain the violation of, or to compel compliance with, the provisions of its zoning ordinance. A city or town may consolidate an action for injunctive relief and/or fines under the ordinance in the superior court of the county in which the subject property is located.

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  § 45-24-61  Administration – Decisions and records of zoning board of review. – (a) Following a public hearing, the zoning board of review shall render a decision within fifteen (15) days. The zoning board of review shall include in its decision all findings of fact and conditions, showing the vote of each participating member, and the absence of a member or his or her failure to vote. Decisions shall be recorded and filed in the office of the city or town clerk within thirty (30) working days from the date when the decision was rendered, and is a public record. The zoning board of review shall keep written minutes of its proceedings, showing the vote of each member upon each question, or, if absent or failing to vote, indicating that fact, and shall keep records of its examinations, findings of fact, and other official actions, all of which shall be recorded and filed in the office of the zoning board of review in an expeditious manner upon completion of the proceeding. For any proceeding in which the right of appeal lies to the superior or supreme court, the zoning board of review shall have the minutes taken either by a competent stenographer or recorded by a sound-recording device.

  (b) Any decision by the zoning board of review, including any special conditions attached to the decision, shall be mailed to the applicant and to the zoning enforcement officer of the city or town. Any decision evidencing the granting of a variance, modification, or special use shall also be recorded in the land evidence records of the city or town.

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  § 45-24-61.1  Procedure – Tolling of expiration periods. –   (a) Notwithstanding any other provision set forth in this chapter, all periods pertaining to the expiration of any approval issued pursuant to the local ordinances promulgated under this chapter shall be tolled until June 30, 2017. For the purposes of this section, "tolling" shall mean the suspension or temporary stopping of the running of the applicable permit or approval period.

  (b) Said tolling need not be recorded in the land evidence records to be valid; however, a notice of the tolling must be posted in the municipal planning department, and near the land evidence records.

  (c) The tolling shall apply only to approvals or permits in effect on November 9, 2009, and those issued between November 9, 2009, and June 30, 2017, and shall not revive expired approvals.

  (d) The expiration dates for all permits and approvals issued before the tolling period began will be recalculated as of July 1, 2017, by adding thereto the number of days between November 9, 2009, and the day on which the permit or approval would otherwise have expired. The expiration dates for all permits and approvals issued during the tolling period will be recalculated as of July 1, 2017, by adding thereto the number of days between the day the permit or approval was issued and the day the permit or approval otherwise would have expired.

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  § 45-24-62  Administration – Judicial aid in enforcement. – The supreme court and the superior court, within their respective jurisdictions, or any justice of either of those courts in vacation, shall, upon due proceedings in the name of the city or town, instituted by its city or town solicitor, have power to issue any extraordinary writ or to proceed according to the course of law or equity or both:

  (1) To restrain the erection, alteration, or use of any building, structure, sign, or land erected, altered, or used in violation of the provisions of any zoning ordinance enacted under the authority of this chapter, and to order its removal or abatement as a nuisance;

  (2) To compel compliance with the provisions of any zoning ordinance enacted under the authority of this chapter;

  (3) To order the removal by the property owner of any building, structure, sign, or improvement existing in violation of any zoning ordinance enacted under the provisions of this chapter and to authorize some official of the city or town, in the default of the removal by the owner, to remove it at the expense of the owner;

  (4) To order the reimbursement for any work or materials done or furnished by or at the cost of the city or town;

  (5) To order restoration by the owner, where practicable; and/or

  (6) To issue fines and other penalties.

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  § 45-24-63  Appeals – Right of appeal. – (a) A zoning ordinance adopted pursuant to this chapter shall provide that an appeal from any decision of an administrative officer or agency charged in the ordinance with the enforcement of any of its provisions may be taken to the zoning board of review by an aggrieved party.

  (b) A zoning ordinance adopted pursuant to this chapter shall provide that an appeal from a decision of the zoning board of review may be taken by an aggrieved party to the superior court for the county in which the city or town is situated.

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  § 45-24-64  Appeals – Appeals to zoning board of review. – An appeal to the zoning board of review from a decision of any other zoning enforcement agency or officer may be taken by an aggrieved party. The appeal shall be taken within a reasonable time of the date of the recording of the decision by the zoning enforcement officer or agency by filing with the officer or agency from whom the appeal is taken and with the zoning board of review a notice of appeal specifying the ground of the appeal. The officer or agency from whom the appeal is taken shall immediately transmit to the zoning board of review all the papers constituting the record upon which the action appealed from was taken. Notice of the appeal shall also be transmitted to the planning board or commission.

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  § 45-24-65  Appeals – Stay of proceedings. – An appeal shall stay all proceedings in furtherance of the action appealed from, unless the zoning enforcement officer or agency from whom the appeal is taken certifies to the zoning board of review, after an appeal has been filed, that by reason of facts stated in the certificate a stay would in the officer's or agency's opinion cause imminent peril to life or property. In that case, proceedings shall not be stayed other than by a restraining order, which may be granted by a court of competent jurisdiction on application and upon notice to the officer or agency from whom the appeal is taken on due cause shown.

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  § 45-24-66  Appeals – Public hearing by zoning board of review. – The zoning board of review shall fix a reasonable time for the hearing of the appeal, and shall give public notice, as well as notice to the parties of interest, and at least fourteen (14) days prior to the date of the hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in the city or town. Notice of the hearing, which shall include the street address of the subject property, shall be sent by first class mail, postage prepaid, to the appellant and to those requiring notice under section 45-24-53. The zoning board of review shall decide the matter within a reasonable time. Upon the hearing, any party may appear in person or by agent or by attorney. The cost of any notice required for the hearing shall be borne by the appellant.

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  § 45-24-67  Appeals – Participation in zoning hearing. – Participation in a zoning hearing or other proceeding by a party is not a cause for civil action or liability except for acts not in good faith, intentional misconduct, a knowing violation of law, transactions where there is an improper personal benefit, or malicious, wanton, or willful misconduct.

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  § 45-24-68  Appeals – Decisions and records of zoning board of review. – In exercising its powers the zoning board of review may, in conformity with the provisions of this chapter, reverse or affirm wholly or partly and may modify the order, requirement, decision, or determination appealed from and may make any orders, requirements, decisions, or determinations that ought to be made, and to that end has the powers of the officer from whom the appeal was taken. All decisions and records of the zoning board of review respecting appeals shall conform to the provisions of § 45-24-61.

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  § 45-24-69  Appeals – Appeals to superior court. – (a) An aggrieved party may appeal a decision of the zoning board of review to the superior court for the county in which the city or town is situated by filing a complaint stating the reasons of appeal within twenty (20) days after the decision has been recorded and posted in the office of the city or town clerk. The decision shall be posted in a location visible to the public in the city or town hall for a period of twenty (20) days following the recording of the decision in the office of the city or town clerk. The zoning board of review shall file the original documents acted upon by it and constituting the record of the case appealed from, or certified copies, together with other facts that may be pertinent, with the clerk of the court within thirty (30) days after being served with a copy of the complaint. When the complaint is filed by someone other than the original applicant or appellant, the original applicant or appellant and the members of the zoning board are made parties to the proceedings. The appeal shall not stay proceedings upon the decision appealed from, but the court may, in its discretion, grant a stay on appropriate terms and make any other orders that it deems necessary for an equitable disposition of the appeal.

  (b) If, before the date set for the hearing in the superior court, an application is made to the court for leave to present additional evidence before the zoning board of review and it is shown to the satisfaction of the court that the additional evidence is material and that there were good reasons for the failure to present it at the hearing before the zoning board of review, the court may order that the additional evidence be taken before the zoning board of review upon conditions determined by the court. The zoning board of review may modify its findings and decision by reason of the additional evidence and file that evidence and any new findings or decisions with the superior court.

  (c) The review shall be conducted by the superior court without a jury. The court shall consider the record of the hearing before the zoning board of review and, if it appears to the court that additional evidence is necessary for the proper disposition of the matter, it may allow any party to the appeal to present that evidence in open court, which evidence, along with the report, constitutes the record upon which the determination of the court is made.

  (d) The court shall not substitute its judgment for that of the zoning board of review as to the weight of the evidence on questions of fact. The court may affirm the decision of the zoning board of review or remand the case for further proceedings, or may reverse or modify the decision if substantial rights of the appellant have been prejudiced because of findings, inferences, conclusions, or decisions which are:

  (1) In violation of constitutional, statutory, or ordinance provisions;

  (2) In excess of the authority granted to the zoning board of review by statute or ordinance;

  (3) Made upon unlawful procedure;

  (4) Affected by other error of law;

  (5) Clearly erroneous in view of the reliable, probative, and substantial evidence of the whole record; or

  (6) Arbitrary or capricious or characterized by abuse of discretion or clearly unwarranted exercise of discretion.

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  § 45-24-69.1. Appeals -- Notice of appeals to superior court. – (a) Whenever an aggrieved party appeals a decision of a zoning board of review to the superior court pursuant to the provisions of § 45-24-69, the aggrieved party shall also give notice of the appeal to those persons who were entitled to notice of the hearing set by the zoning board of review. The persons entitled to notice are set forth and described in § 45-24-53.

  (b) Notice of the appeal shall be mailed to those parties described in § 45-24-53 within ten (10) business days of the date that the appeal is filed in superior court not counting Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays. Notice shall be sent by first class mail, postage prepaid, and the cost of such notice shall be borne by the aggrieved party filing the appeal in superior court.

  (c) The notice sent for an appeal to the superior court as described in this section shall include and contain:

  (1) the caption and civil action number of the case;

  (2) The date the case was filed in the superior court;

  (3) The county in which the appeal to superior court was filed;

  (4) The name, address and telephone number of the attorney filing the appeal on behalf of the aggrieved party, or, the name, address, and telephone number of the aggrieved party if the aggrieved party is not represented by counsel;

  (5) Language in bold type notifying the person(s) receiving the notice that an appeal has been filed in the superior court;

  (6) Language indicating that the aggrieved party will serve the named defendants;

  (7) Language indicating that the persons receiving the notice may retain counsel and/or participate in the appeal insofar as the law allows;

  (8) Language indicating that an appeal of a decision of a zoning board to the superior court is governed by § 45-24-69 and this section; and

  (9) The date of the notice shall be contained on the notice.

  (d) Within twenty (20) days after a notice as described in this section is sent, the aggrieved party shall file an affidavit with the court indicating and/or containing:

  (1) A complete list of all the names and addresses of the intended recipients of the notice of the hearing;

  (2) The date the notice was sent;

  (3) An affirmative statement verifying the notice was sent by first class mail, postage prepaid;

  (4) An affirmative statement verifying that each notice was sent in an envelope containing a return address and indicating the return address on the envelope;

  (5) A statement identifying all notices that were returned to the return address or not delivered for whatever reason and/or an affirmative statement indicating that all other notices have not been returned as of the date and time of the affidavit; and

  (6) A copy of the form of the notice shall be attached to the affidavit.

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  § 45-24-70  Appeals – Priority in judicial proceedings. – Upon the entry of any case or proceeding brought under the provisions of this chapter, including pending appeals and appeals subsequently taken to the court, the court shall, at the request of either party, advance the case, so that the matter is afforded precedence on the calendar and shall be heard and determined with as little delay as possible.

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  § 45-24-71  Appeals – Appeal of enactment of or amendment to zoning ordinance. – (a) An appeal of an enactment of or an amendment to a zoning ordinance may be taken to the superior court for the county in which the municipality is situated by filing a complaint within thirty (30) days after the enactment or amendment has become effective. The appeal may be taken by an aggrieved party or by any legal resident or landowner of the municipality or by any group of residents or landowners whether or not incorporated, of the municipality. The appeal shall not stay the enforcement of the zoning ordinance, as enacted or amended, but the court may, in its discretion, grant a stay on appropriate terms, which may include the filing of a bond, and make other orders that it deems necessary for an equitable disposition of the appeal.

  (b) The complaint shall state with specificity the area or areas in which the enactment or amendment does not conform with the comprehensive plan and/or the manner in which it constitutes a taking of private property without just compensation.

  (c) The review shall be conducted by the court without a jury. The court shall first consider whether the enactment or amendment of the zoning ordinance is in conformance with the comprehensive plan. If the enactment or amendment is not in conformance with the comprehensive plan, then the court shall invalidate the enactment or the amendment, or those parts of the enactment or amendment which are not in conformance with the comprehensive plan. The court shall not revise the ordinance to conform with the comprehensive plan, but may suggest appropriate language as part of the court decision.

  (d) In the case of an aggrieved party, where the court has found that the enactment or amendment of the zoning ordinance is in conformance with the comprehensive plan, then the court shall next determine whether the enactment or amendment works as a taking of property from the aggrieved party. If the court determines that there has been a taking, the court shall remand the case to the legislative body of the municipality, with its findings that a taking has occurred, and order the municipality to either provide just compensation or rescind the enactment or amendment within thirty (30) days.

  (e) The superior court retains jurisdiction, in the event that the aggrieved party and the municipality do not agree on the amount of compensation, in which case the superior court shall hold further hearings to determine and to award compensation. The superior court retains jurisdiction to determine the amount of an award of compensation for any temporary taking, if that taking exists.

  (f) The court may, in its discretion, upon the motion of the parties or on its own motion, award reasonable attorney's fees to any party to an appeal, including a municipality.

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  § 45-24-72  Severability. – If any provision of this chapter or any rule, regulation, or determination made under this chapter, or the application to any person, agency, or circumstance, is held invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, the remainder of the chapter, rule, regulation, or determination and the application of the provisions to other persons, agencies, or circumstances shall not be affected thereby. The invalidity of any section or sections of this chapter shall not affect the validity of the remainder of the chapter.