18.49.010        Definition.

18.49.020        Purpose.

18.49.030        Objectives.

18.49.040        Standards and requirements for development.

18.49.050        Application procedure.

18.49.060        District design criteria.

18.49.070        Severability.


18.49.010  Definition.  Flex Tech (FT) development is a development characterized by a unified site design for clustered buildings, common open space, and a mixture of building types and land uses.  Flex Tech development is intended for general business and office development, as well as for light industrial related uses, including warehousing, manufacturing and distribution centers.  Flex Tech development allows for flexibility in accommodating business and light-industrial uses through a unified and more desirable and attractive development based on a comprehensive site plan.  Flex Tech development differs from conventional lot-by-lot development by allowing a mix of building types and uses, combining usable yard space on individual lots into larger common spaces, offering greater opportunities to reduce building costs, and offering the possibility of maintaining the permitted density of an area while keeping desired amenities.This Chapter shall not apply to any parcel in the FT zoning district used for use code 465.

(Ord. dated 11-16-02 (part); Ord. dated 9-5-23)


18.49.020   Purpose.  The purpose of Flex Tech zoning is to encourage and provide a means for desirable office, commercial and light-industrial developments that will feature variations in siting and mixes of land uses based upon an approved master plan for the development.  Flex Tech development provides a more efficient economic development technique and encourages land use development that is responsive to the town’s unique environmental resources and human needs.  A master plan must be approved by the planning board before any development takes place.

(Ord. dated 11-16-02 (part))


18.49.030   Objectives.  The objectives of the Flex Tech development are to:

A.  Maximize opportunities for flexibility in the design of large developments by providing a more desirable use and arrangement than would be possible through conventional application of ordinance requirements;


B.  Encourage developers to conserve the natural features of a site, and protect natural and historic resources by providing for more creative approaches to the development of land;


C.  Encourage a more efficient, aesthetic and desirable use of land for recreation, conservation and open space uses;


D.  Encourage and promote a variety in the physical development of land use in the town;


E.  Allow for efficient provisions and effective use of physical improvements and municipal services relative to land use development;


F.  Limit the number of road entrances into existing town and state roads to avoid adverse public health and safety and visual impacts; and


G.  Provide an open space plan for the development that incorporates pathways, walkways and bike trails throughout the development that links to a larger open space greenway plan for the community and the county, and in doing so to incorporate the protection of environmentally important resources. 

(Ord. dated 11-16-02 (part))


18.49.040   Standards and requirements for development.

A.  Minimum acreage for a Flex Tech development:




General Business




Light Industrial/Manufacturing



B.  Site design details, including but not limited to landscaping and open space networking, shall be approved by the planning board.  Public improvements shall be constructed in conformance with the requirements of the land development and subdivision regulations and any other applicable municipal ordinance.


C.  The total density and building bulk of any proposed Flex Tech development may not exceed density and building requirements set forth in the ordinance codified in this chapter.  However, the planning board may modify lot dimensions, building setbacks and lot areas if it finds that such modification would result in a more functional and desirable use of the property.


D.  The planning board shall approve the shape, site, location and use of open space.  An open space, conservation, and pathway or walkway plan shall be a component of the master plan.  The master plan shall provide for any necessary restoration and maintenance of the buffer between the Flex Tech zoning district and abutting zoning districts, and shall provide for the development of a trail system in the open space buffer.  The planning board shall establish a performance bond for restoration of the buffer area, if restoration necessary.  Conservation or preservation easements for open space shall be conveyed to the town of Richmond pursuant to Title 34, Chapter 39 of the Rhode Island General Laws.


E.  The planning board shall require that a maintenance guarantee be provided by the subdivider for all improvements that are being dedicated to the town for public acceptance and maintenance, and for all landscaping as shown on the approved landscape plan.  The amount of the maintenance guarantee shall be ten percent of the original estimate of construction cost.  The initial period for such maintenance guarantee shall be one year.  At the end of the one-year maintenance period, the director of public works shall inspect all improvements subject to the guarantee and shall certify in writing to the administrative officer as to their condition.  If found to be unacceptable, the administrative officer shall recommend an extension of the guarantee period to the town clerk, and the original funds shall not be returned to the subdivider.  If public improvements are in good condition and have not been damaged due to the fault of the subdivider, or through faulty workmanship or design, the maintenance guarantee shall be returned to the subdivider.  In cases where the planning board finds there are extenuating circumstances, the initial maintenance period may be established for a period longer than one year.  The reasons for establishing a longer maintenance period and the nature of the extenuating circumstances shall be made a part of the record.

(Ord. dated 11-16-02 (part))


18.49.050   Application procedure. 

A.  A master plan for the entire Flex Tech zoning district must be approved by the planning board prior to the subdivision and development of any portion of the zoning district.


B.  After a master plan has been approved, the zoning district may be subdivided and developed.


C.  Approval of a master plan and subsequent subdivision of the zoning district into individual lots for development shall be according to the procedure provided for approval of major subdivisions and land development projects under Article V of the town of Richmond land development and subdivision regulations.  The planning board may require information in addition to that required by the land development and subdivision regulations, provided that the reason for requiring such information is accompanied by findings of fact and reduced to writing.

At the master plan application stage, the applicant shall submit to the planning board evidence that the proposed design is consistent with the intent of this chapter by providing a working environment that satisfies the purposes of this chapter.  At the preapplication stage of review, the applicant shall submit the following information in addition to that required by the pre-application checklist for major land developments or major subdivisions:

1.   Location map showing the proposed project within the context of a one-quarter mile area, with existing streets and community facilities, approved projects and existing land uses;

2.   Proposed land uses, population densities and building intensities;

3.   Proposed circulation pattern, indicating all pub-lic and private streets;

4.   Proposed parks, playgrounds, school sites and open spaces;

5.   Land use marketability study of proposed commercial uses;

6.   Identification of the developments construction phasing;

7.   Relation to future land uses in the surrounding area and comprehensive plan; and

8.   Anticipated impact of the proposed development on the existing environment and municipal services.


D.  Such documentation shall include, but is not limited to, elevations of the proposed buildings and detailed site plans.  The planning board may require a traffic impact analysis, an environmental assessment, or an environmental impact statement, in accordance with Article III, Section E of the land development and subdivision regulations. 

(Ord. dated 11-16-02(part))


18.49.060        District design criteria.  

A.  Landscaping.

1.   For Flex Tech uses that abut residential properties or the planned unit development Village Center zoning district, a minimum one hundred fifty-foot open space setback is required.  Landscaping in this open space setback shall include planting elements to ensure an effective visual and audio screen and buffer between residential and non-residential uses, including maintaining existing topographic features and vegetation as a "no cut" buffer, or restoration with native vegetation and earthen berms, where appropriate, to achieve a natural forested buffer zone.

2.   As a condition of approval of the change from R-2 to Flex Tech, the area of the proposed Flex Tech Zone that is within a Rhode Island Heritage site, a minimum of a two hundred-foot natural or restored buffer shall be required between the natural edge and any site development.

3.   For any permitted use, a minimum of thirty-five percent of the lot shall be undisturbed or maintained as landscaped, or planted open space.

4.   No more than twenty-five percent of the landscaped, undisturbed or planted area shall consist of land unsuitable for development as that term is defined in Article III, Section C of the land development and subdivision regulations.

5.   Loading areas and areas for outdoor storage shall be screened with native vegetation, and/or earthen berms, and located in the side or rear yards.

6.   Tree and shrub plantings shall be selected as suitable for their use in the interest of creating an aesthetically pleasing environment and shown on a landscaping plan by a licensed landscape architect.  The plantings selected shall be from those suggested in the publication titled “Sustainable Trees and Shrubs for Southern New England” by the faculty at the University of Rhode Island and Massachusetts-Cooperative Extension dated 9/19/93, as may, from time to time, be revised, or other recognized treatises.


B.  Architectural Standards.

1.   The architectural design of buildings, structures, and site layout shall be visually compatible with a historic New England village in scale and character, including building materials, massing, density, and roof lines.

2.   A diversity of roof heights, gable orientations and volumes in new buildings shall be considered.  Buildings shall be designed with traditional roof forms that are compatible with the character of the town, including but not limited to gambrel, gable and hipped roofs com-monly found in the town and other small New England towns.

3.   Architectural elements such as dormers shall be in proportion to the overall building and surrounding buildings.  Exaggerated or excessively large architectural elements shall be avoided.  Traditional and contemporary architectural detailing that creates variety, interest and texture on new buildings and additions and that is compatible with the character of the town is encouraged.

4.   Traditional building materials such as shingles, wood clapboards, brick and stone shall be used for the exterior of new construction and additions.  For buildings visible from existing town streets outside the Flex Tech zoning district, the architectural design and exterior materials used shall be compatible with a traditional New England village character.

5.   Large scale development shall take the form of village-like groupings of small scale buildings, rather than a large individual structure or box-like buildings set back on a large expanse of paved parking.

6.   Service areas and mechanical equipment shall be placed to the rear or side of buildings in visually unobtrusive locations.  Service areas shall be screened through landscaping or structural elements at a minimum of five feet in height, to prevent direct views from adjacent properties or from public or private streets used by the general public.  Mechanical equipment shall be screened through walled units or integrated into architectural features of the buildings.

7.   The planning board shall require schematic architectural drawings of the exteriors of all proposed new buildings to be submitted at the preliminary plan stage of review.  The board shall review these drawings for conformity with the design guidelines set forth herein.


C.  Open Space.

1.   Design and layout in the Flex Tech district should incorporate elements such as "town greens" and public spaces.  Such public spaces serve as a buffer between the Flex Tech area and the arterial roadway, and highlight the building design when viewed from outside the zone.

2.   To promote pedestrian connections and activity, a walkway or trail/path system shall be incorporated between the Flex Tech zone, the Village Center and residential areas.  The path system shall be an active and enjoyable outdoor space that provides linkages throughout the Flex Tech zone and the Village Center.  The path system shall be designed to provide a safe connection for pedestrians and bicyclists, and also serve as a unifying element between the different development areas in the Flex Tech zoning district.

3.   Design of the pathway system shall also give consideration to creating linkages to adjacent neighborhoods, and to town and statewide trails, bikeways and pedestrian facilities.  This pathway system shall be delineated in the open space greenway plan for the development.


D.  Utilities.

1.   On-site utilities shall be located underground unless the planning board waives or modifies this requirement pursuant to Article VIII of the land development and subdivision regulations.

2.   Utility and drainage areas shall be landscaped and incorporated into the natural features of the land and open space network.


E.  Driveways and Access Roads.

1.   Driveways and access roads shall be located according to the following schedule (current (1994) AASHTO STANDARDS, as amended):

Highway Design Speed

Sight Distance

Minimum Spacing

30 mph or less

200 feet

125 feet

35 mph

225 feet

150 feet

40 mph

275 feet

185 feet

2.   Driveway placement and design shall:

a.   Be in harmony with the internal circulation and parking layout;

b.   Accommodate the types and volume of vehicles that are expected to enter during the peak design period;

c.   Be sufficient to minimize vehicular traffic; and

d.   Facilitate shared access driveways.

(Ord. dated 11-16-02 (part))


18.49.070        Severability.  If any provision of this section or of any rule, regulation or determination made there-under, or the application thereof to any person, agency or circumstance, is held invalid by a court of com-petent jurisdiction, the remainder of the section, 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 part or parts of this section shall not affect the validity of the remainder. 

(Ord. dated 11-16-02 (part))


REFERENCES   R.I. Gen. Laws § 45-24-33(10).


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