The Town Council of the Town of Tiverton, County and State aforesaid held a Special Joint Workshop with the Planning Board on Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. 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 - absent

Councilor Clarke

Councilor Cook

Councilor Driggs

Councilor Edwards - absent

Councilor Perry - absent




Town Administrator Chris Cotta, Solicitor Marcello, Planner Jennifer Siciliano and Deputy Clerk Veegh and were also present.


Planning Board members present: Chair Susan Gill, Vice-Chair Stuart Hardy, Rosemary Eva and David Perry.




A. Discussion and Review of Status on Comprehensive Community Plan Updates and Strategize Next

     a. Development Pressures and Potential Solutions – Presented by Town Planner


Councilor Hilton opened noting the importance of thoughtful planning to ensure residential growth is balanced and consistent with the Comprehensive Community Plan. 


Town Planner Jennifer Siciliano then provided to the Town Council and Planning Board a slide show presentation of growth projections and tools other communities have used to manage increased pressure for development. She stated Tiverton has seen an increase in housing development noting a recent proposed concept plan for a 180 unit apartment complex on Main Road, an approved master plan for 275 units off Souza Road, a 52 unit condo complex on Main Road and a potential 30 unit expansion of Brookdale/Sakonnet Bay in addition to minor and major subdivisions throughout the town.


She furthered that according to state projections, Tiverton is expected to have greater development and population growth than all Newport County communities over the next couple of decades due to the thousands of acres of undeveloped land in town. Other impact factors include the commuter rail to Boston from Fall River, as well as more people working from home because of COVID-19, and the possibility that work-from-home could continue post-COVID. Ms. Siciliano highlighted how increased development may stress town services such as schools, water/wastewater, public works, police and fire, as well as create potential to change the town’s character.


Increasing the building lot size, rezoning environmentally-sensitive areas, and limiting building permit issuance were options outlined to control growth to prevent overwhelming the town’s infrastructure and services. Amending the town’s impact fee ordinance was mentioned as a means to ease the impact. Conservation easements and purchase of development rights were noted as programs some communities have employed to preserve undeveloped land.


     b. Questions & Answers


Councilors Cook and Driggs questioned the cause for concern noting state projections showed a population increase of just under 1,000 people by 2040. Councilor Cook expressed concerns of the potential of development management programs to affect property rights as well as taxes and home affordability.


Planning Board member Dave Perry theorized that development may slow due to increased numbers working from home. He reminded that the current development projects were initiated back in 2000 whereas the state gave a 20 year extension, likely triggering the increase in development requests.


Councilor Clarke reiterated that the potential for greater numbers working from home, may result in increased desirability for Tiverton homeownership.  


Planning Board member Rosemary Eva addressed the question of impact fees, originally adopted for school bonds, and suggested possible modification to include other affected town services. Planning Board Vice Chair Stuart Hardy responded asserting that a lengthy and complicated ‘needs assessment’ would be required to quantify the burden a new subdivision would have on town services.


Councilor Hilton expressed density concerns relative to potable water, noting over 5,000 acres of undeveloped land in town with only 6% of households connected to sewer and 40% on well water.


Planning Board Chair Susan Gill suggested possible rezoning or use changes as a viable approach. Chair Hardy concurred, noting that many of the zoning districts have not been analyzed for over a decade. He added that additional stand-alone ordinances related to specific water table issues could be considered.

     c. Solar Ordinance – Review of Draft Ordinance and Discussion


Councilor Hilton noted that while the item will soon be turned over to a new Council, she questioned if Planning had opinions on the controversial issue of large farm properties being converted into solar farms.

Chair Gill offered that the impetus included enabling property owners alternative uses if they were no longer farming as well as the benefit of ‘tying up’ the land for residential development for 20-25 years.


Councilor Driggs asked how solar projects are dismantled at the end of their lifespan, to which Chair Gill affirmed decommission bonds are required.


Councilor Clarke questioned the process when infrastructure is filled to capacity with output from solar farms and the resulting effect on the town to have its own grid. Chair Gill replied that National Grid has control capacity and hookups and the town approves design only.


Administrator Cotta opined the town should investigate the viability of developing a grid to offset municipality facility costs.


Building Official Bill Moore suggested possible use of school and town hall roofs for solar installations. He added that the adoption of the solar ordinance as well as fee schedules are of great importance as developers are awaiting decisions.       




The meeting adjourned 8:25 p.m.




A True Copy.


ATTEST:   _______________________________

                          Nancy L. Mello, Town Clerk



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