ARTICLE 5 - PROCEDURE FOR APPROVAL OF SUBDIVISIONS AND LAND DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

 

5.1          General requirements

 

These procedures apply to review and approval of all subdivisions and land development projects unless otherwise specifically provided.

 

5.1.1       To initiate review and approval of a subdivision or land development project, an applicant shall contact the Administrative Officer to schedule a pre-submission meeting.  After the pre-submission meeting has taken place, the applicant shall submit to the Planning Department all of the materials required by the appropriate checklist in Article 15, accompanied by a letter of transmittal.   

 

5.1.2       An application made by a party other than the owner of the property must be accompanied by an Owner Authorization form signed by the owner. Each application must be accompanied by an Applicant Notification List. 

 

5.1.3       Each application shall include a copy of the appropriate checklist with notations showing the items that are being submitted and those that are not applicable.

 

5.1.4       An applicant may agree that the Administrative Officer or the Planning Board may have additional time to review or approve an application beyond the period specified in these regulations. Any such agreement shall be in writing and shall specify the number of additional days for review or approval.

 

5.1.5       No application shall be placed on a Planning Board agenda until it has been certified as complete at least ten (10) business days before the meeting at which it will be considered. If an applicant submits additional application material during a Planning Board meeting, the Planning Board has the authority to continue action on the application to a later date.

 

5.1.6       When a land development project requires subdivision of land, review and approval of the subdivision shall take place simultaneously with review and approval of the land development project.

 

5.1.7       Documents or material submitted for Planning Board decision or review, including but not limited to supplemental or updated plans or reports, responses to documents or reports, or correspondence requesting extensions or waivers, shall be submitted to the Planning Department at least ten (10) business days before the Planning Board meeting at which the matter will be considered.

 

5.2          Certification that an application is complete

 

5.2.1       The Administrative Officer must certify as complete, in writing, an application for an administrative subdivision, an application for a pre-application conference, or an application for any review or approval stage of a minor subdivision, a major subdivision, a minor land development project or a major land development project before the application will be reviewed. The period within which the Administrative Officer or the Planning Board must take action on an application begins when a certificate of completeness is issued.

 

5.2.2                If an application is incomplete, the administrative officer shall provide to the applicant a written certificate of incompleteness describing in detail the items that are missing from the application. Issuance of a certificate of incompleteness stops the running of the time period within which an application must be certified as complete. The running of the time period resumes when the applicant provides the corrected information to the administrative officer, provided, however, that the administrative officer shall have at least ten (10) days from the day of submission of a corrected master plan or preliminary plan application for a major subdivision or land development project to review the corrected application, and fourteen (14) days from the day of submission to review any corrected application other than a master plan or preliminary plan.

 

5.2.3       If a written certificate of completeness is not issued within the time required by these regulations, the application is considered complete for the purpose of beginning the review period; provided, however, that during review of the application, the administrative officer or the Planning Board may require an applicant to correct any information found to be in error or to submit any material required by these regulations but not included in the application.

 

5.3          Administrative subdivision

 

An administrative subdivision is a re-subdivision of an existing lot, including but not limited to merger of existing lots or an adjustment of existing boundaries, that does not create any additional lot for development. A new lot that will be restricted to non-development uses such as open space may be created by administrative subdivision.

 

5.3.1       The administrative officer shall certify an application for an administrative subdivision as complete or incomplete within fifteen (15) days from the day it is submitted.

 

5.3.2       Within fifteen (15) days of the date the application is certified complete, the administrative officer shall approve the application, deny the application, or refer the application to the Planning Board with recommendations. If the administrative officer denies the application, the applicant does not have a right to appeal the decision, but may submit the application to the Planning Board as a minor subdivision.

 

5.3.3       If the Administrative Officer does not take any action on the application within fifteen (15) days, the application shall be placed on the agenda of the next regularly-scheduled Planning Board meeting.

 

 5.3.4      If the application is referred to the Planning Board, the Planning Board shall approve, approve with conditions, or deny the application within sixty-five (65) days of the date it was certified as complete. If the Planning Board does not act on the application within sixty-five (65) days of the date it was certified as complete, the application shall be considered approved, and the applicant may request and receive from the administrative officer a written certification that the Planning Board failed to act with the required time and a written approval of the administrative subdivision.

  

5.3.5                An approval by the administrative officer or the Planning Board shall be in writing. A copy shall be posted in the town clerk's office, and a copy shall be mailed to the applicant by any method that provides confirmation of receipt.

 

5.3.6                Within ninety (90) days of the date the Administrative Officer approves the plan and endorses the plat, the applicant must record the endorsed plat in the land evidence records.

 

5.4          Pre-application review

 

Pre-application review is an informal process intended to give the applicant and the Planning Board an opportunity to discuss the project’s concept, the physical characteristics of the land and any constraints to development, what form of land development may be appropriate, and the procedure for approval. At the pre-application review stage, the Planning Board does not vote to approve or disapprove an application. Pre-application review is primarily for the guidance of the applicant and does not constitute approval of a project or any of its elements.

 

5.4.1       Pre-application review by the Planning Board is required for all major and all minor subdivisions and land development projects. An applicant for major subdivision or land development project approval may request pre-application review by the Town Planner or the Technical Review Committee in addition to the pre-application review conducted by the Planning Board. 

 

5.4.2         To initiate pre-application review, the applicant must submit the materials required by the checklist.

 

5.4.3       The Planning Board may continue a pre-application review to more than one meeting agenda if the Planning Board requests additional information or if the Planning Board or the applicant wishes to discuss additional matters.  

 

5.4.4       Notwithstanding the requirement that a major subdivision or land development project undergo pre-application review, if the applicant had submitted the material required by the pre-application checklist and pre-application review has not taken place within sixty (60) days for a reason other than the unavailability of the applicant, the applicant may file an application for master plan review.   

 

5.5          Minor subdivisions and land development projects

 

A minor subdivision is a subdivision plan consisting of five or fewer lots that does not require any waivers from these regulations. Minor subdivisions that propose creation or extension of a street require a public hearing. A minor land development project is a residential development project consisting of between two (2) and five (5) dwelling units in one or more structures on one or more lots. 

 

5.5.1       Review and approval of a minor subdivisions or land development projects takes place in three stages: pre-application review, preliminary plan review and approval, and final plan approval.

 

5.5.2       An application for preliminary approval of a minor subdivision or land development project that does not propose creation or extension of a street shall be certified as complete within fifteen (15) days of the day it is submitted. An application for preliminary approval of a minor subdivision or land development project that proposes creation or extension of a street shall be certified as complete within twenty five (25) days of the day it is submitted.

 

5.5.2.1    If an application does not propose creation or extension of a street, the Planning Board must approve, approve with conditions, or deny the preliminary plan within sixty-five (65) days of the day the application was certified as complete. If the application proposes creation or extension of a street, the Planning Board must conduct a public hearing on the preliminary plan application and approve, approve with conditions, or deny the preliminary plan within ninety-five (95) days of the day the application was certified as complete.  If the Planning Board is unable to make the findings required by Sec. 3.1 of these regulations, the Planning Board may re-assign the application to review as a major subdivision or land development project.  

 

5.5.2.2    If the Planning Board does not act on the application within the required time period, the application shall be considered approved, and the applicant may request and receive from the Administrative Officer a written certification that the Planning Board failed to act with the required time, and a written approval of the preliminary plan.

 

5.5.2.3    Preliminary approval of a minor subdivision or land development project expires ninety (90) days from the date the written decision is signed and posted.

 

5.5.2.4    An applicant may ask the Planning Board to extend the ninety-day period. The request must be in writing and must be submitted before the approval expires. The Planning Board has the authority to require the applicant to appear before it to explain the reason the extension is requested. The Planning Board may approve one or more extensions for good cause. Approval of an extension shall be in writing.

 

5.5.3                Final approval takes place when the Administrative Officer certifies the final plan application as complete. Final approval authorizes the applicant to begin construction of the required improvements or post an improvement guarantee to insure their completion, or both, but the plat cannot be recorded until improvements are completed and approved or an improvement guarantee is submitted.

 

5.5.3.1    To obtain Final Plan approval, the applicant shall submit to the Administrative Officer all the material required by the final plat checklist, all items required by the Planning Board at preliminary approval as a condition of final approval, and the inspection fees required by Section 11.3.3 of these regulations.

 

5.5.3.2    Within ninety days after the date the final plan application is certified as complete, the applicant must construct the streets and other improvements required by the final approval, or must provide an improvement guarantee in compliance with Art. 7 of these regulations.

 

5.5.3.3    The applicant may ask the Planning Board to extend the ninety-day final approval period. The request must be in writing and must be submitted before the approval expires. The Planning Board has the authority to require the applicant to appear before it to explain the reason the extension is requested. The Planning Board may approve one or more extensions for good cause. Approval of an extension shall be in writing and shall be recorded in the land evidence records.

 

5.5.4      A final plat is recorded in the land evidence records when all required improvements have been completed and the Public Works Director has certified that the improvements were constructed in conformity with these regulations and with the approved plans, or when the applicant has provided an improvement guarantee in conformity with Article 7 of these regulations. The final plat is recorded in conformity with Article 6 of these regulations.

 

5.6          Major subdivisions and land development projects

 

A major subdivision is a subdivision plan consisting of more than five lots. A major land development project is a residential development project consisting of more than five dwelling units on one or more lots, or any development project proposing a non-residential use.

 

5.6.1       Review and approval of major subdivisions and land development projects takes place in four stages: pre-application review, master plan review and approval, preliminary plan review and approval, and final plan review and approval. The Planning Board may combine approval stages if it finds that all the requirements of the combined stages have been met.

 

5.6.2       Master plan.

              

               A master plan is a site plan for a major subdivision or land development project that shows general development intentions rather than specific engineering or other details. It is intended to describe the basic parameters of the project.

 

5.6.2.1    During master plan review, the applicant shall provide information concerning proposed public improvements and dedications, tentative construction phasing, and the potential impact of the development on the surrounding area.

 

5.6.2.2    The following procedure shall apply to master plan review of a major subdivision or land development project:

 

a)   The application shall be certified as complete within twenty-five (25) days of the day it is submitted.

 

b)   The Planning Board may refer the application to the technical review committee, or to one or more of the town's consulting professionals, for review and recommendation.

 

c)   The applicant shall present the proposed development at an informational public meeting at which members of the public are permitted to ask questions and to submit oral and written comments to the Planning Board.

 

d)   The Planning Board shall approve, approve with conditions, or deny the master plan within ninety (90) days of the day the application was certified as complete.

 

5.6.2.3    If the Planning Board does not act on the application within the required time period, the application shall be considered approved, and the applicant may request and receive from the Administrative Officer a written certification that the Planning Board failed to act with the required time, and a written approval of the master plan.

 

5.6.2.4             Master plan approval expires two (2) years from the date the written decision was recorded.

 

5.6.2.5    An applicant has the right to receive two one-year extensions of master plan approval, and may ask the Planning Board for additional extensions for good cause. An extension must be requested in writing at least thirty (30) days before the expiration date. The applicant must appear before the Planning Board to request the extension and explain the status of the project. A decision to extend the approval period shall be in writing.

 

5.6.3       Preliminary plan.

 

               A preliminary plan is a proposed development plan that includes detailed engineering drawings. Before a preliminary plan application is submitted, the applicant must obtain every State and Federal permit that would be required to begin construction, including but not limited to freshwater wetland alteration permits, Coastal Resources Management Council assents, preliminary suitability determinations for on-site wastewater treatment systems, permits required for public water systems, and physical alteration permits for connections to State roads.

                                   

5.6.3.1    The application shall be certified as complete within twenty-five (25) days of the day it is submitted.

 

5.6.3.2    The Planning Board may refer the application to the technical review committee for review and recommendation.

 

5.6.3.3    The applicant shall present the proposed development at a public hearing.

 

5.6.3.4    The Planning Board shall approve, approve with conditions, or deny the preliminary plan within ninety (90) days of the day the application was certified as complete. The Planning Board’s written decision shall be recorded in the land evidence records.

 

5.6.3.5    If the Planning Board does not act on the application within the required time period, the application shall be considered approved, and the applicant may request and receive from the Administrative Officer a written certification that the Planning Board failed to act with the required time, and a written approval of the preliminary plan.

 

5.6.3.6    Preliminary plan approval expires two (2) years from the date the written decision was recorded in the land evidence records.

 

5.6.3.7    The applicant has the right to receive two one-year extensions of preliminary plan approval, and may ask the Planning Board for additional extensions for good cause. An extension must be requested in writing at least thirty (30) days before the expiration date. The applicant must appear before the Planning Board to request the extension and explain the status of the project. A decision to extend the approval period shall be in writing and shall be recorded in the land evidence records.

 

5.6.4        Final plan.

 

                Final plan approval takes place when the Administrative Officer certifies the final plan application as complete. Final approval authorizes the applicant to begin construction of the required improvements or post an improvement guarantee to insure their completion, or both, but the plat cannot be recorded until improvements are completed and approved or an improvement guarantee is submitted.

 

5.6.4.1    To obtain final plan approval, the applicant submits to the Administrative Officer all the material required by the final plat checklist, all items required by the Planning Board at preliminary approval as a condition of final approval, and the inspection fees required by Section 11.3.3 of these regulations.

 

5.6.4.2    The application shall be certified as complete within twenty-five (25) days of the day it is submitted. If the Administrative Officer issues a certificate of incompleteness, the time period shall stop running until the applicant submits a corrected application. The Administrative Officer shall have at least fourteen (14) days to certify the corrected application as complete. When the final plan includes changes to the preliminary plan approval, including new elements, the Administrative Officer may have an additional twenty (20) days to certify the application as complete, provided that the Administrative Officer notifies the applicant in writing that the additional time will be required.

 

5.6.4.3    If the Administrative Officer determines that an application for final approval does not meet the requirements of these regulations or the conditions imposed by the Planning Board, the Administrative Officer shall refer the final plan to the Planning Board for review. The Planning Board must approve or deny the final plan within forty five (45) days of the day the Administrative Officer issued a certificate of incompleteness. If the Planning Board does not act on the application within the required time period, the application shall be considered approved, and the applicant may request and receive from the Administrative Officer a written certification that the Planning Board failed to act with the required time, and a written approval of the final plan.

 

5.6.4.4    Within one year after the date the final plan application was certified as complete, the applicant must construct the streets and other improvements required by the final approval, or must provide an improvement guarantee in compliance with Article 7 of these regulations.

 

5.6.4.5    The applicant has the right to receive a one-year extension of the final approval, and may ask the Planning Board for additional extensions for good cause. An extension must be requested in writing at least thirty (30) days before the expiration date. The applicant must appear before the Planning Board to request the extension and to explain the status of the project. A decision to extend the approval period shall be in writing and shall be recorded in the land evidence records.

 

5.6.5       Recording.

 

               A final plat is recorded in the land evidence records when all required improvements have been completed and the Public Works Director has certified that the improvements were constructed in conformity with these regulations and with the approved plans, or when the applicant has provided an improvement guarantee acceptable to the Finance Director in conformity with Article 7 of these regulations. The final plat is recorded in conformity with Article 6 of these regulations.

 

5.7          Site walk

Before master plan approval of a major subdivision or land development project, the Planning Board shall visit the site of the proposed development to see the existing conditions and special features of the property, to identify potential site design issues, and to discuss site design concepts. The Planning Board also may visit the proposed development site of a minor subdivision or land development project before preliminary approval. The following requirements shall apply to site walks:

 

5.7.1       The Planning Board shall arrange the site walk with the applicant or the applicant's representative during the pre-application conference. Planning Board members, town staff, and at least one representative of the applicant should attend.

 

5.7.2       The site walk shall be considered a public meeting even though no formal discussion or action will take place. Notice of the meeting shall be posted in accordance with R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-6, and written minutes shall be kept in accordance with R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-7.

 

5.7.3       Comments made during the site walk by Planning Board members, staff, or consultants are not official statements. No formal recommendation or decision shall be made during a site walk.

 

5.7.4       Failure of the Planning Board to request or arrange a site walk, or lack of a Planning Board quorum during the site walk, shall not invalidate Planning Board approval of the application. 

 

5.8          Decisions by the Planning Board and Administrative Officer

 

All decisions on applications for administrative subdivision approval, preliminary and final approval of minor subdivisions and land development projects, and master plan, preliminary, and final approval of major subdivisions and land development projects shall satisfy the following requirements:

 

5.8.1       The decision shall be in writing. 

 

5.8.2       The decision shall include the findings required by Section 3.1.1. of these regulations. The findings must be supported by legally competent evidence in the record. The decision must describe the evidence on which the findings are based.

 

5.8.3       The decision shall address each of the following general purposes for which these regulations were adopted.

 

a)   Providing for the orderly, thorough and expeditious review and approval of land developments and subdivisions.

 

b)   Promoting high quality and appropriate design and construction of land developments and subdivisions.

 

c)   Promoting the protection of the existing natural and built environment and the mitigation of all significant negative impacts of any proposed development on the existing environment.

 

d)   Promoting design of land developments and subdivisions that are well-integrated with the surrounding neighborhoods with regard to natural and built features, and that concentrate development in areas that can best support intensive use by reason of natural characteristics and existing infrastructure.

 

e)   Encouraging local design and improvement standards to reflect the intent of the Richmond comprehensive plans with regard to the physical character of the various neighborhoods and districts of the municipality.

 

f)   Promoting thorough technical review of all proposed land developments and subdivisions by appropriate local officials.

 

g)   Encouraging local requirements for dedications of public land, impact mitigation, and payment-in-lieu thereof, to be based on clear documentation of needs and to be fairly applied and administered.

 

5.8.4       For any subdivision or land development application to be approved, a majority of the current Planning Board membership must vote in favor of the approval.

 

5.8.5       Written decisions by the Planning Board shall be recorded in the land evidence records and posted in the Town Clerk’s office within twenty (20) days of the meeting at which the vote was taken.  

 

5.8.6       Written decisions approving administrative subdivisions and final plans shall be recorded at the time the plat or plan is recorded.

 

5.8.7       A copy of the recorded decision shall be mailed within one business day of recording, by any method that provides confirmation of receipt, to the applicant and to any objector who has filed a written request for notice with the Administrative Officer.

 

5.9        Notice requirements

 

5.9.1      The Planning Board shall conduct a public hearing before preliminary approval of all major subdivisions, all major land development projects, and all minor subdivisions that propose the creation or extension of a street. The following requirements apply to public hearings.

 

a)   The Planning Department shall advertise the public hearing at least fourteen (14) days in advance in a newspaper of general circulation in Richmond. The advertisement shall be printed in type at least as large as the type used for news stories. The applicant shall pay for the advertisement.

 

b)   The applicant shall mail written notice of the public hearing to the owners of property within five hundred (500) feet of the perimeter of the property proposed for development, and to any individual or entity holding a recorded conservation or preservation restriction on the property proposed for development. The notice shall be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, at least ten (10) days in advance. The Planning Department shall provide the form of notice. The applicant shall give the Planning Department copies of all of the return receipts before the public hearing. The applicant shall pay for the postage.

 

c)   Both the advertisement and the notice shall state the date, time and location of public hearing; the assessor's plat and lot number of the property; the street address of the property, including the street number or the distance and direction from the nearest intersection in tenths of a mile; and that a copy of the plans may be examined at the Planning Department, Richmond Town Hall, 5 Richmond Townhouse Rd., Wyoming, on weekdays except holidays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

 

d)   The Administrative Officer shall send a copy of the notice by first class mail to the planning board of an adjacent town if there is a public or quasi-public water source, or a private water source suitable for use as a public source, within two thousand  (2,000) feet of the municipal boundary; to the governing body of any state or municipal water department or agency, water district, or private water company that has riparian rights to a surface water resource or watershed used for, or suitable for, a public water source located within Richmond or within two thousand (2,000) feet of the municipal boundary, provided that a map survey has been filed with the building official as specified in R.I. Gen. Laws § 45-24-53(e); and to the administrative officer of an adjacent town if the proposed development is within five hundred (500) feet its boundary or if the Administrative Officer determines that the development poses a potential for significant negative impact on the adjacent town.

 

5.9.2      The Planning Board shall conduct a public informational meeting before master plan approval of all major subdivisions and major land development projects. The following requirements apply to public informational meetings.

 

a)   The Planning Department shall advertise the public informational meeting at least seven (7) days in advance in a newspaper of general circulation in Richmond.  The advertisement shall be printed in type at least as large as the type used for news stories. The applicant shall pay for the advertisement.

 

b)   The applicant shall mail postcard notice by first class mail to the owners of property within five hundred (500) feet of the perimeter of the property proposed for development. The postcards shall be mailed at least ten (10) days in advance. The Planning Department shall provide the text of the notice. The applicant shall pay for the postage.

 

c)   Both the advertisement and the postcard notice shall state the date, time and location of public informational meeting; the assessor's plat and lot number of the property; the street address of the property, including the street number or the distance and direction from the nearest intersection in tenths of a mile; and that a copy of the plans may be examined at the Planning Department, Richmond Town Hall, 5 Richmond Townhouse Rd., Wyoming, on weekdays except holidays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

 

5.9.3      The applicant shall post a sign at the site of the proposed development notifying the public of a scheduled public informational meeting or public hearing. See zoning ordinance §18.24.040 Signs for residential subdivisions.

 

a)   The sign shall be at least 20 inches by 30 inches, made of weather-resistant materials, and mounted to be visible from the nearest street. The sign shall remain on the site until the meeting or hearing is closed. The applicant shall bear the cost of the sign.

 

b)    The sign shall contain a basic description of the proposed development and the date, time and location of public hearing or public informational meeting. The Administrative Officer shall approve the construction and content.

 

c)     The sign shall be for informational purposes only and shall not be required notice of a public meeting or hearing.

 

5.10         Planning Board approval with additional municipal approval

 

5.10.1       When a development proposal requires a special use permit or a dimensional variance from the Zoning Board of Review as well as approval by the Planning Board, the following procedure shall apply.

 

a)   The applicant shall obtain conditional Planning Board approval for the first review stage of the development, and a recommendation from the Planning Board to the Zoning Board of Review. 

 

b)   The applicant shall obtain conditional relief from the Zoning Board of Review.

 

c)    The applicant shall obtain any additional Planning Board approval required.

 

5.10.2       When a development proposal requires an amendment to the zoning ordinance by the Town Council as well as approval by the Planning Board, the following procedure shall apply.

 

a)   The applicant shall obtain conditional Planning Board approval for the first review stage of the development, and a recommendation from the Planning Board to the Town Council. 

 

b)   The applicant shall obtain a conditional zoning ordinance amendment from the Town Council.

 

c)   The applicant shall obtain any additional Planning Board approval required.

 

5.11         Reinstatement of applications

 

5.11.1       If an applicant fails to initiate development, recording, or the next stage of review within the approval period established by the Administrative Officer, by the Planning Board or by these regulations, and does not make a written request for an extension of the approval period, the approval shall expire and shall thereafter be invalid unless the Planning Board reinstates it.

 

5.11.2       The Planning Board has the authority to reinstate preliminary plan approval and final plan approval of minor subdivisions and land development projects and master plan approval, preliminary plan approval and final approval of major subdivisions and land development projects within five (5) years after the approval, including any extension, has expired if the Planning Board finds that all of the following conditions are satisfied:

 

a)   The approval is consistent with the Comprehensive Community Plan.

 

b)   The zoning ordinance provisions applicable to the property are substantially the same as they were at the time of approval.

     

c)   The physical conditions on the property are substantially the same as they were at the time of approval.

 

d)  State and Federal approvals required for the development are still valid.

 

5.11.3       The land development and subdivision regulations currently in effect shall apply to any subsequent review stages of a reinstated approval.

 

5.11.4       An application for reinstatement of an expired approval shall be made in writing and shall be accompanied by any supporting material required by the Administrative Officer. The Planning Board's decision on the application shall be in writing and shall include findings of fact. A decision to reinstate an expired approval shall be recorded in the land evidence records.

 

(Adopted 9/9/03, amended 8/11/09, 10/27/15, 10/24/17)

 

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