3.1       Requirements for approval


Before an application for a subdivision or a land development project is approved, the Planning Board (or the Administrative Officer in the case of administrative subdivisions) must find that all the requirements in section 3.1.1 have been satisfied.


3.1.1    Required findings    


            An application for a subdivision or land development project must provide sufficient information to enable the Planning Board or Administrative Officer to make positive findings on all of the following requirements. If the Planning Board or the Administrative Officer is unable to make positive findings on every applicable requirement, the application cannot be approved.                 


a)   The proposal is consistent with the Comprehensive Community Plan, or, if there are inconsistencies, they have been satisfactorily addressed;

b)   The proposal complies with the zoning ordinance. If the proposal includes a lot not being created for present or future development, a notation must appear on the final plat stating that the lot is not for development. If the proposal includes a lot that will be dedicated for open space, ownership and use of the land must comply with Ch. 18.38 of the zoning ordinance and Art. 4 of these regulations. 

c)   The proposal, including any conditions of approval, will not have any significant negative impact on the environment.

d)   The proposal does not create any lots for development with physical constraints that would make construction on any lot impracticable.

e)   Each lot has adequate permanent physical access to a public street. Lot frontage on a public street without physical access does not satisfy this requirement.

f)   The proposal provides safe circulation of pedestrian and vehicular traffic,  adequate stormwater control, suitable building sites, and preserves natural, historical, or cultural features that contribute to the attractiveness of the community;

g)   The design and location of streets, building lots, utilities, drainage improvements and other improvements minimize flooding and soil erosion.

h)   The amount, location, use, nature and design of the open space satisfies the standards and requirements of these regulations.


3.2       Phasing of major land developments and major subdivisions


3.2.1    When a major land development or subdivisions is submitted for master plan approval the Planning Board shall review the adequacy of existing and projected future public improvements, services and facilities that may be affected by the proposed development in its entirety. If the Planning Board determines that such improvements, services and facilities, including but not limited to water supply, sewerage, streets and associated drainage facilities, schools, recreational facilities, and fire and police protection will not be adequate to serve the occupants of the subdivision or development at the time of recording of the plat, the Planning Board shall have the authority to establish a rate of development for the entire project by requiring it to be built in phases.


3.2.2    The Administrative Officer shall forward a copy of the master plan application to each Town, State, quasi-governmental, or private department or agency that in the judgment of the Administrative Officer should be asked to review the application. Each of the recipients shall be asked to submit written comments to the Administrative Officer. For timely distribution to the Planning Board members, the Administrative Officer must receive the written comments no later than seven days before the public informational meeting or the public hearing, whichever occurs earlier. Supplemental material should be submitted to address:


a)   An estimate of the impact of the development on the facilities or services provided by the department or agency;


b)   Whether existing facilities or services are adequate to serve the occupants of the development;


c)   Whether plans for the necessary improvements to existing facilities or services are included in the Town’s capital improvement program or are otherwise planned; and


d)   An estimate of how long it would take to provide any necessary improvements to existing facilities or services.


3.2.3    Based on the responses received from the various departments and agencies, the Planning Board shall establish, at the time of master plan approval, a rate of development of for the entire subdivision or development that will permit residential construction only when improvements, services and facilities will be adequate to serve the residents of the subdivision or occupants of the development. As part of such a growth rate plan, the Planning Board may require that buildings or improvements be constructed or installed, or lots sold, in two or more phases.


3.2.4    If phasing is required, the Planning Board shall approve the entire master plan first.  Thereafter, the applicant shall be required to submit plans for preliminary and final plan review showing the development of the entire site in two or more phases as required by the Planning Board.  The Board may, in its discretion, impose conditions for determining the physical limits of phases, for allowing progression to additional phases, for allowing two or more phases to proceed in review or construction simultaneously, for interim public improvements or construction conditions, or for changes to master or preliminary plans, and may include other provisions as necessitated by special conditions.


3.2.5    The master plan documents may contain information on the physical limits of the phases, the schedule and sequence of public improvement installation, improvement guarantees, and the work and completion schedules for approvals and construction of the phases.


3.3       Yield plan


3.3.1    To determine the basic maximum number of dwelling units permitted in a subdivision or land development project, the applicant shall prepare a yield plan, which is a site plan showing a conventional subdivision of land on the parcel to be developed that satisfies the requirements of these regulations and the requirements of the zoning ordinance. Land unsuitable for development shall be subtracted from the gross parcel area. The area calculations shall be shown on the plan. 


3.3.2    Land included in all of the following categories shall be considered unsuitable for development:


a)   Fresh water wetlands, except that area of perimeter wetland within fifty (50) feet of the edge of any bog, marsh, swamp or pond; or any applicable 100-foot or 200-foot riverbank wetlands, as defined by R.I. Gen. Laws § 2-1-20, as amended.


b)   Special flood hazard areas A, AE, AH, AO, and A99, as shown on the Richmond Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the flood boundary and floodway maps dated October 19, 2010.


c)   Land within any publicly or privately held easement on which above-ground utilities, including but not limited to electrical transmission lines, are constructed.


d)   Any area of ledge or rock outcrops at or within four feet of the land surface, as identified in the Soil Survey of Rhode Island by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or as identified by on-site investigation.


3.3.3      The yield plan shall show proposed streets, lots, rights-of-way, land unsuitable for development and other features required by the pre-application checklist. Although the yield plan must be drawn to scale, it need not be based on a field survey. However, it must be a realistic layout reflecting a development pattern that could reasonably be implemented, taking into account the presence of land unsuitable for development, existing easements or encumbrances, and the suitability of soils for subsurface sewage disposal.


3.3.4      Each lot in the yield plan shall contain the minimum area and dimensions required in the zoning district by the zoning ordinance for the uses proposed. Land unsuitable for development may be included as part of a lot in a subdivision or land development project, provided that it does not make up part of the minimum lot area required by the zoning ordinance, and provided that the land comprising the minimum lot area is contiguous. 


3.3.5    On sites served by on-site wastewater treatment systems (OWTS), density shall be further determined by evaluating the number of dwellings or other uses that could be supported by OWTS on lots in a conventional subdivision.  OWTS shown on the plan shall not require a variance from Department of Environmental Management regulations. The Planning Board shall determine the suitability of the parcel for development as a conventional subdivision, based on the soils information provided by the applicant, upon observations made during the site visit to the property, and upon other evidence available to the Board at any time during the development review process.


3.4       Environmental study    


3.4.1    The Planning Board has the authority to require an applicant to prepare an environmental study to assess the potential short and long term effects of a major land development project or subdivision. 


3.4.2    Before requiring an environmental study, the Planning Board must find that there is a reasonable expectation that the proposed development will have a significant negative environmental impact on natural systems located on the property, or on nearby properties or natural systems. The Board shall make findings of fact in writing and shall identify the environmental resources it finds to be potentially threatened. The Board’s findings shall be made a part of the record of the application.


3.4.3    If the Planning Board finds that an environmental study should be required, the board shall include a condition in the master plan approval decision requiring the environmental study to be submitted with the preliminary plan application.


3.4.4    The environmental study shall include documentation and assessment of short and long term environmental effects that may include, but need not be limited to, effects on:

a)   freshwater wetlands;


b)   traffic;


c)   natural heritage sites;


d)   soils;


e)   noise and air quality;


f)   vegetation;


g)   solid waste generation;


h)   wildlife;


i)    historic and archaeological areas;


j)    groundwater; and


k)   surface water.


3.4.5    The Board has the authority to impose conditions on the Preliminary Plan approval that are based on the findings in the environmental study and are reasonably necessary to minimize adverse impacts that the development may have on the natural or manmade environment.


3.4.6    All environmental studies shall be referred to the Conservation Commission for review and written comment, provided, however, that the Planning Board shall not delay its review of the application because the Conservation Commission has not submitted comments.


3.5                   Private streets


When the streets in a subdivision or land development will be privately owned and privately maintained, the applicant shall submit the following documents with the final plan submission:


a)   A document establishing the method of ownership and providing for maintenance of the streets and stormwater management facilities.


b)   A covenant by the owner of the parcel, binding on his successors and assigns, that the Town shall not be required to accept or maintain the private streets in the subdivision that do not meet the engineering and construction requirements for town-accepted streets.


The documents shall be approved by the Town Solicitor and recorded in the land evidence records with the final plat.


(Adopted 9/3/03, amended 1/13/09, 8/11/09, 10/27/15)

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