The Town Council of the Town of Tiverton, County and State aforesaid held a Regular Council Meeting on

Monday, June 8, 2020 at 7:00 via a Virtual Meeting viewable at Tiverton Videos on YouTube.






Council President Hilton called the meeting to order with the pledge of allegiance to the flag.




Council President Hilton

Vice-President deMedeiros

Council Edwards

Councilor Clarke

Councilor Perry

Councilor Cook

Councilor Driggs

Town Administrator Cotta

Deputy Clerk Veegh

Solicitor Marcello






A.  Approval of Town Council Minutes

1.   May 26, 2020 – Regular Meeting


B.  Acknowledge Receipt of Minutes from Boards/Commissions/Committees

1.   Board of Canvassers (2)

2.   Recreation and Beach Commission (1) 


C.  Acknowledge Receipt of Reports

1.   Planning Board – Report of Activities of the Planning Dept. and Planning Board – May 2020


D.  Acknowledge Receipt of Correspondence

1.   City of Woonsocket Resolution Recognizing Month of June as Woonsocket Pride Month


E.   Approval of Tax Assessor Abatements


Councilor Edwards motioned to approve Consent Agenda items. Councilor Driggs seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously on a roll call vote.




The Public was encouraged to send written comments via email to or by regular mail to the Town Clerk at 343 Highland Road, Tiverton, RI 02878 or placing in the grey drop box located outside Town Hall by 12:00 noon on Monday, June 8th.


Council President Hilton advised that several comments had been received. She read aloud a question from resident Lisa Libutti relating to covid-19 beach restrictions. Administrator Cotta affirmed there will be capacity limitations based on State guidelines, but attendance would be on a first come first serve basis without restrictions on out of state visitors.


A second comment was read from resident Cesar Relvas who complained about Fogland beach access restrictions interfering with the launching of his small boat.  Administrator Cotta acknowledged a number of similar complaints about the restricted access at the north end of Fogland area, but explained there was insufficient staff to monitor according to state guidelines. He furthered that there was a boat ramp available and boaters could walk their dinghies over to the other side. 


The balance of the comments/emails received were in opposition to the oyster farm test site that CRMC was permitting on Nanaquaket pond. She advised that after recent discussions, the Harbor Commission had voted to not recommend the test site to CRMC. Administrator Cotta furthered that a full CRMC hearing was to convene in either late August or early September and recommended those interested to check the CRMC website for updated information.   




       A. Approval of proposed amendment to the Resolution for Fines and Fees relating to compost bins


Hilton explained that the Town purchases bins from Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation, and costs have recently increased from $40 to $45, noting that the charge was a pass thru only (no profit). DPW Director Rogers explained the request to amend the Resolution should allow the DPW to charge the same as RIRRC charges, so as to cover any future increases.  


President Hilton asked if any members of the public wished to speak; there were none.


Councilor deMedeiros motioned to approve the relative amendment to the Resolution for Fines and Fees to allow the DPW cost to reflect the cost charged by RIRRC. Councilor Edwards seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously on a roll call vote.




       A. Planning Board - Resignation of Planning Board Member Paul Amaral effective July 15, 2020


Councilor deMedeiros motioned to approve the resignation of Planning Board Member Paul Amaral, thanking him for his many years of service. Councilor Edwards seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously on a roll call vote.


       B. Recreation Commission - (7) Member Board (3) Year Terms (1) Vacancy

            1. Edward J. Sevigny, 168 Merritt Avenue - Requests re-appointment to expire 4/15/2023


Councilor Edwards motioned to waive policy and move to vote on the board re-appointments today. Councilor
deMedeiros seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously on a roll call vote.


Councilor Perry motioned to approve the relative appointments of Edward J. Sevigny to the Recreation Commission. Councilor Edwards seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously on a roll call vote.




       A. Groundswell Bakery & Café, LLC – 3883 Main Road– Request approval for BVL liquor license – subject
            to meeting all legal requirements


Clerk Mello had received a request for continuance until the next Council meeting to allow applicant to work on some issues.


Councilor Driggs motioned to continue the relative request until the June 22, 2020 meeting. Councilor Edwards seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously on a roll call vote.




      A. Councilors Cook and Driggs – Resolution establishing The Municipal Facilities Maintenance Committee
           discussion and possible vote.

Councilor Cook reiterated the necessity of the volunteer committee as a means to assess structural status and track maintenance of municipal buildings, referring to her drafted resolution that detailed specifics such as goals, means of reporting, membership etc. She welcomed input for additions and/or amendments to her resolution.  


Councilor Edwards expressed concern that some aging facilities may be more suited for replacement than repair. Councilor deMedeiros noted that a professional study had been conducted a few years prior for the same purpose, though no action occurred due to lack of funds. She recommended revisiting this study, expressing concern about a committee comprised of lay persons. Councilor Edwards agreed adding that membership should encompass persons with various and related expertise. Councilor Clarke liked the idea of the committee, believing members need not be experts as long as they coordinated the efforts of experts. Councilor Hilton felt that between the Town Administrator, the Building official, various department heads and maintenance staff, an additional group of persons was unnecessary. She furthered that if a specific assessments were necessary, they should come from a professional party. Councilor Edwards suggested a maintenance page be added to the Town website for the purpose of keeping residents informed of building maintenance plans and progress.       


Councilor Driggs motioned to approve the Resolution establishing The Municipal Facilities Maintenance Committee. Councilor Cook seconded the motion. The motion failed 5-2, with Councilors Edwards, deMedeiros, Perry, Clarke, and Hilton opposed.   

       B. DPW Director Rogers – Request Approval of Budget Transfers
           1. Acct 5540-6451(Snow Removal) to 5540-7325 (Highway Signs) for $1710
           2. Acct 5540-6451 (Snow Removal) to 5530-7590 (IT/Computer Services) $1020
           3. Acct 5540-5104 (Overtime) to 5530-5104 (Landfill Overtime) $1500


Councilor Edwards motioned to approve the relative budget transfers. Councilor deMedeiros seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

       C. Police Chief Jones – Request Approval of Budget Transfers
            1. Acct 33306-6150 (Employee Assistance) to 3330-7199 (Medical testing) for $2,300
            2. Acct 3330-6928 (Education/Seminar) to 3330-7199 (Medical Testing) for $2,000


Councilor Edwards motioned to approve the relative budget transfers. Councilor deMedeiros seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

       D. Town Administrator – Review, discussion, and possible vote for extension of the Amnesty Trash
            Program allowing each residence to put out one non-town bag of trash for collection each week and
            encouraging people to continue to put out recycling with their trash – Continued from May 11th            

Councilor deMedeiros motioned to extend the Amnesty Trash Program through July 1, 2020. Councilor Perry seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

       E. Town Planner Jennifer SicillanoRequest authority to move forward with necessary steps for
            reviewing, rewriting, and codifying certain parts of the Zoning Ordinance as outlined in memorandum

President Hilton supported the request, yet cautioned that conceptual presentations might be prudent before drafting specific ordinances to ensure support of the Planning Board and the Council. Councilor Edwards expressed concerned about the expenditure of funds this fiscal year, possibly postponing until FY21. Clerk Mello added that she had raised the urgency of codifying the form - based code each year since it was approved, noting it will be a monumental task requiring legal expertise. Planner Sicillano recommended using the $20,000 set aside to hire via the Master Price Agreement, a consultant to assist, reminding that the funds set aside for legal services and recodification will go away July 1, 2020. It was affirmed by Solicitor Marcello that the financial authority had already been granted to the Planner, therefore a formal vote to authorize was unnecessary.    

        F. Town Clerk – Authorization to release funds held in restricted Vicious Dog Account 266-0000-1990-00
             to the unrestricted general fund

Clerk Mello explained the account containing $49,436 had been built up from dog license funding and originally intended for restitution of farm animals harmed by vicious dog packs. As there had been no expenses paid since 1977 and vicious dog ordinances were in place, she recommended the funds be released to the unrestricted portion of the general fund. Solicitor Marcello believed the Council had the authority to transfer the funds but agreed to research further.

Councilor Edwards motioned to approve to release funds held in restricted Vicious Dog Account 266-0000-1990-00 to the unrestricted general fund, pending review by the Solicitor. Councilor Driggs seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.  

       G. Council President Hilton – Approval of Bay Street Moratorium Extension to December 31, 2020 -
            Two remaining properties awaiting DEM documentation

Councilor Edwards motioned to approve the Bay Street Moratorium extension to December 31, 2020. Councilor Cook seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. 

       H. Councilor Cook – Discussion on Aquaculture as it relates to taxation

Assessor Robert addressed questions Councilor Cook posed relative to aquaculture and taxation. He had consulted with assessors of other RI communities with aquaculture farms that confirmed no negative property market value impact. He also referenced a URI study conducted on a farm in VA that conversely reported a slight increase in value (likely due to appreciation) of submerged farms, whereas above water line oyster farms showed negligible negative impact. With regard to taxation, locations in state waters as well as being a “farm”, renders them non-taxable. Councilor Driggs posed the question that water v. land access might have value impacts, whereas Roberts conceded that an adjacent access point with heavy commercial truck activity has potential for a negative market value impact. Councilor Edwards noted that as the state owns everything below mean high tide level, other than voicing displeasure or support, the Council lacks authority. Hilton added that as Tiverton has 15 miles of coastline with limited public access to the water, when there is impediment to access, it behooves the Town to be mindful.  

        I. Councilor Perry/David Paull/Dog Park Committee – Request authorization to use Town owned land by
            Tiverton Fire Station (Roosevelt Road) for Dog Park consisting of 2.179 acres identified as Plot

122 abutting Tiverton Library

Councilor Perry briefed Council on the request, noting that there had been discussion of creating an option B entrance off of Roosevelt Avenue, south of the Library entrance. DPW Director noted that either access option would be doable, either accessing from the grass of the library or off of the Roosevelt Drive sidewalk area with parking at Bulgarmarsh and/or parking added to the existing library parking. He added that the Tree Warden had also been consulted with regard to appropriate tree clearing. Councilor Hilton recommended that the Library Board of Trustees be consulted with regard to the access decisions. Councilor Cook expressed concern that future maintenance of the park by volunteers be in writing.   


Councilor Edwards motioned to authorization the use of Town owned land by Tiverton Fire Station (Roosevelt Road) for Dog Park consisting of 2.179 acres identified as Plot 122 abutting Tiverton Library, pending review by the Planner, potential administrative subdivision of the land, and discussion with the Library Board of Trustees related to entrance options. Councilor deMedeiros seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. 

        J. Town Administrator/Treasurer Saurette – Discussion on status of setting the FY 21 budget, cash on
            hand, General Assembly legislation, Town cash flow, liquidity and alternatives to address quarterly tax
            revenue including possibility of short term borrowing

Administrator Cotta noted that although the Budget committee sets budget during FTR process, he recommended Council review and prioritize a list that he may share with the Budget Committee as they deliberate the FY2021 budget. He was optimistic of having a balanced budget by June 30, despite receipt of unanticipated bills. He furthered that the tax levy issue worked on the Solicitor and the League had been submitted and expected the General Assembly to acting on it next week. The intent is to roll the levy over for 1st quarter until the FTR takes place, to prevent cash flow issues. He added that if for some reason potential legislation stalls, we may need consider short term borrowing.

Treasurer Denise Saurette added that in the absence of legislative approval, cash flow will be ok thru mid-July. Her concern was not being able to issue tax bills, noting that $12-13 million is typically collected in the first two weeks of July. She noted that it isn’t unusual for a municipality to borrow in advance of tax receipts. She has been researching appropriate options in the event this became necessary.

Tax Collector Toni Lyn McGowan confirmed that if the legislation passes on the 16th, it would take approximately two weeks to get tax bills out, but the grace period would need to be extended.

Administrator Cotta added that another option to consider would be the utilization of funds from the landfill account. President Hilton mentioned that in a worst case scenario, short term borrowing from the 3% uncommitted reserve would be an option. She added that it was not fiscally prudent to have only 3% of the operating budget in savings. Solicitor Marcello noted that there may be a program from the Federal Reserve that would allow cities to borrow directly at low rates, although he stated there was consensus that the legislation was expected to pass.  

President Hilton suggested a joint meeting with the School and Budget Committees as a means of assessing what is known in terms of FY21 revenue.




       A. Town Solicitor

             1. Daniel S. Harrop v. RI Division of Lotteries – C.A. No. PC-2019-5273

Solicitor Marcello updated Council on the relative suit whereas Tiverton was a named defendant. The Plaintiff, Mr. Harrop, claimed expansion of sports betting was not approved by the voters therefore illegal under RI law. Marcello advised that Superior Court has ruled that casino gambling does encompass sports betting therefore was legally approved by the voters. However, notice had been received that Mr. Harrop intends to file an appeal.   

Decision on Katz v. Tiverton Board of Canvassers (Finding of no APRA violation by A/G Office)


Solicitor Marcello advised Council that the Attorney General’s office found no OMA violation (listed as APRA incorrectly on agenda) by the Tiverton Board of Canvassers. He added that the Town currently has no open pending OMA or APRA violations.

       B. Town Administrator Christopher Cotta

            1. Resignation of Fire Chief Joseph Mollo


Administrator Cotta noted that after a long deliberative process, he had accepted the resignation of Fire Chief Joseph Mollo. In the interim, Bruce Reimels has been reassigned as acting Chief until a recommendation is made to hire a new chief. Solicitor Marcello confirmed the resignation was properly accepted and a hearing had not been requested. Councilor Driggs stated for the record she would not have accepted the resignation.


       C. Town Clerk
Process for candidate declarations


Clerk Mello advised that for anyone running for office in the November election must turn in their Declaration of Candidacy papers to the Clerk’s office between June 22 and June 24 by 4pm. She added that the forms are available on the Town website or at the Clerk’s office. She furthered that campaign finance packets will be distributed and nomination papers prepared.


            2. Deadline for local ballot questions


Clerk Mello advised that any 2020 local questions to be on the November ballot must first be submitted to Council and reviewed by the Solicitor before being certified by the Board of Elections and then sent to the Secretary of State’s office by Wednesday, Aug 5.  






Councilor Edwards motioned to adjourn the meeting. Councilor Perry seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. The meeting adjourned at 9:45 p.m.



A True Copy.



                 Nancy L. Mello, Town Clerk


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