Town of Coventry, RI
Kent County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of Coventry 5-23-2005 by Ord. No. 6-05-0246. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Building regulations — See Ch. 106.
Subdivision of land — See Ch. 213.
Zoning — See Ch. 255.

§ 139-1 Purpose.

It is the purpose of this chapter to provide affordable, accessible, safe and sanitary housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income housing for individuals consistent with the strategies set forth in the Town's Affordable Housing Plan.

§ 139-2 Authority of Planning Commission.

Pursuant to the provisions of R.I.G.L. § 45-53-1 et seq., the Low and Moderate Income Housing Act, so called, the Planning Commission shall have the authority to issue comprehensive permits for residential low- and/or moderate-income housing projects.

§ 139-3 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
AFFORDABLE HOUSING PLAN
The Affordable Housing Plan approved by the State Director of Administration meeting the guidelines for a Comprehensive Plan as promulgated by the State Planning Council; provided, however, that the state review and approval of said plans shall not be contingent upon the Town having completed, adopted or amended its Comprehensive Plan as provided in R.I.G.L. § 45-22.2-8, 9 and 12.
COMPLETED APPLICATION
A single application, as hereinafter more fully explained, submitted to the Planning Department consisting of all necessary completed forms, accompanying documents and required fees, including all requests for relief from provisions of local ordinances and regulations.
COMPREHENSIVE PERMIT
A single application to construct or rehabilitate low- and moderate-income housing in lieu of separate applications to applicable Town boards.
A. 
The Town's Zoning or Land Use Ordinances, requirements and regulations are consistent with local needs if they are reasonable in view of the recognized need for low- and moderate-income housing in relation with the number of low-income persons in the Town; the need to protect the residents of the proposed housing as well as the community; promote better site and building design in relation to the property surrounding the proposed development; preserve open space; and are applied as equally as possible to subsidized and unsubsidized housing.
B. 
The Town's Zoning and/or Land Use Ordinances, requirements and regulations are reasonable so long as it has year-round low- or moderate-income housing stock in excess of 10% or it has adopted an approved Affordable Housing Plan which has a reasonable expectation of achieving the mandates of the Low and Moderate Income Housing Act, so called.
DENIAL
The verbal or written refusal of the Town Planner, Assistant Town Planner or Planning Commission to grant an application for a comprehensive permit.
LETTER OF ELIGIBILITY
A letter issued by the Rhode Island Housing and Mortgage Finance Corporation or other entity as set forth in R.I.G.L. § 45-53-4(a)(1)(i).
LOCAL BOARD
Any Town official, zoning board of review, planning commission, board of appeal or zoning enforcement officer, local conservation commission, historic district commission, or other municipal board having supervision of the construction of buildings or the power of enforcing land use regulations, such as subdivision, or zoning laws.
LOW- OR MODERATE-INCOME HOUSING
Any housing subsidized by the federal, state or municipal government under any program to assist the construction or rehabilitation of housing as low- or moderate-income housing, as defined in the applicable federal or state statute, or local ordinance, whether built or operated by any public agency or any nonprofit organization, or by any limited equity housing cooperative or any private developer, that will remain affordable for 99 years or such other period that is either agreed to by the applicant and Town but shall not be for a period of less than 30 years from initial occupancy through a land lease and/or deed restriction or prescribed by the federal or state subsidy program.
MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT SUBSIDY
Assistance that is made available through a program sufficient to make housing affordable, as "affordable housing" is defined in R.I.G.L. § 42-128-8.1(d)(1); such assistance may include, but is not limited to, direct financial support, abatement of taxes, waiver of fees and charges, and approval of density bonuses and/or internal subsidies, and any combination or forms of assistance.

§ 139-4 Eligible applicants.

An applicant proposing to build low- or moderate-income housing may submit to the Planning Commission a single application for a comprehensive permit to build said housing in lieu of separate applications to the applicable boards. This procedure is only available for a proposal in which at least 25% of the housing is low- or moderate-income housing.

§ 139-5 Preapplication conference.

A. 
When an applicant for a comprehensive permit proposes a major land development, land development project or major subdivision, the applicant shall request a preapplication conference with the Planning Commission and/or the Director of Planning and Zoning or his designee. The purpose of the preapplication conference is for the review of a conceptual plan of the proposed development.
B. 
To request a preapplication conference, the applicant shall submit in writing a description of the project to include the number of units, the type of housing and a location or site map.
C. 
Upon receipt of a request for a preapplication conference, the Town shall have 30 days to schedule and conduct such a conference.
D. 
If 30 days have elapsed from the filing of the preapplication submission and no preapplication conference has taken place, nothing shall be deemed to preclude an applicant from thereafter filing and proceeding with an application for a comprehensive permit. Nothing contained herein shall preclude the applicant and the Town from mutually agreeing upon extending the terms for meeting and/or completion of the preapplication conference.
E. 
An applicant for a comprehensive permit that does not propose a major land development, land development project or major subdivision may also request a preapplication conference.

§ 139-6 Submission requirements.

Applications for comprehensive permits shall include, as a minimum, 15 copies of the following documentation:
A. 
A completed application form as provided by the Planning Department.
B. 
A letter of eligibility issued by the Rhode Island Housing Mortgage Finance Corporation, or, in the case of projects primarily funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or other state and federal agencies, an award letter indicating the subsidy, and a timetable for expected availability of subsidy funding.
C. 
A proposed timetable for commencement of construction and completion of the project, including the percentage of low- and moderate-income housing which will be constructed during each phase.
D. 
A sample land lease or deed restrictions setting forth affordability liens which will restrict use of the low- and moderate-income units as such for a period of not less than 30 years.
E. 
Identification of an approved entity that will monitor the long-term affordability of the low- and moderate-income units.
F. 
A financial pro-forma for the proposed development, including but not limited to evidence of the acquisition price, expenses and other economic factors that comprise the total cost for the construction and administration of the project and the resulting rental or sales prices to be exacted for all units constructed or rehabilitated.
G. 
An application fee as set forth in Chapter 122, Fees, shall be submitted at the time of filing of the application for a comprehensive permit by the applicant to the Planning Department. Additional fees for legal advertising and third-party engineering may also be assessed pursuant to Section 3.3(d) and (e) of the Town's Land Development and Subdivision Regulations.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II).
H. 
A written statement describing how the proposed project is consistent with local needs, including but not limited to needs identified in the Town's Comprehensive Plan, and with any local Zoning and Land Use Ordinance requirements and regulations which promote the health and safety of the community, promote better site design and promote the state's need for low- and moderate-income housing.
I. 
A written statement identifying particular sections/provisions of the Zoning Ordinance, Subdivision and Land Development Regulations or other regulations from which relief is sought, listing all exceptions, variances and waivers. If relief of a density requirement is sought, a statement of permitted density allowed under current zoning and proposed density of project shall be provided. If dimensional relief is sought, a statement of requested relief in feet from property lines or height shall be provided. If there is a change of use or zone change, an explanation shall be provided.
J. 
Written evidence of site control and ownership.
K. 
Written evidence of incorporation and/or nonprofit status of the applicant of the project as well as written approval or authority for the project.
L. 
Site development plans are required for a Master Plan submission for a major land development or major subdivision plan under provisions of the Coventry Land Development and Subdivision Regulations, showing the following information at a scale of not less than one inch equals 40 feet, signed and certified by the project engineer and/or surveyor:
(1) 
Name of proposed project.
(2) 
Name and address of property owner and applicant.
(3) 
Name, address and telephone number of engineer and/or surveyor.
(4) 
Date of plan preparation with revision date(s).
(5) 
Graphic scale and true North arrow.
(6) 
Plat and lot number(s) of the land being developed.
(7) 
Zoning district(s) of the land being developed. If more than one district, zoning boundary lines must be shown.
(8) 
Location and dimensions of existing and proposed lot boundary lines and total area of parcel(s) to be developed.
(9) 
Location, width and names of existing and proposed streets, easements and rights-of-way within and immediately adjacent to the parcel(s).
(10) 
Names of abutting property owners and property owners immediately across any adjacent streets or right-of-way.
(11) 
Location of open space and wooded areas, and notation of existing ground cover.
(12) 
Delineation of FEMA-designated flood hazard zones, coastal features, and freshwater wetlands and watercourses present on or within 200 feet of the property.
(13) 
Existing topography with minimum contour intervals of two feet.
(14) 
Provisions for collecting and discharging stormwater.
(15) 
Dimensions and construction details for streets, driveways, parking areas and walkways; traffic control signage; proposed landscaping improvements and open areas within the site.
(16) 
Locations and outlines of all proposed buildings, indicating structures intended for low- or moderate-income households, versus those intended for market-rate occupancy.
(17) 
Utilities plan showing proposed locations and types of water supply (including hydrants), sewage disposal and exterior lighting.
M. 
Scaled architectural drawings including floor plans of typical units, typical elevations and sections, identifying construction type and exterior finish materials, signed and certified in accordance with the Rhode Island State Building Code.
N. 
Erosion and sediment control plan at the same scale as the site development plan or subdivision plan.
O. 
Narrative report containing the following elements:
(1) 
Description of current zoning and land use.
(2) 
Existing site conditions and nature of existing buildings.
(3) 
Character of open areas including wetlands and floodplains within the project area, with at least a radius of 200 feet from the borders of the project lot area.
(4) 
USDA soils map of the site, including soil classifications and acreage in each soil classification.
(5) 
Tabulation of proposed buildings by type and size (numbers of buildings, residential units, bedrooms, floor area), and percentage of impervious surface covered by buildings, parking and other paved areas.
(6) 
Estimate of the approximate population of the proposed development, including the number of school-aged children to be housed in the development.
(7) 
Description of proposed sewage disposal and water service.
(8) 
Traffic impact assessment, including methodology.
(9) 
List of all non-local approvals and permits that are required from RIDEM, RIDOT, CRMC and other approvals as deemed appropriate by the Planning Department.
(10) 
Proposed timetable for commencement of construction and completion of the project, including timing of construction of low- and moderate-income housing units.
P. 
Local fire district's written assessment of water flow requirements.
Q. 
Proposed condominium association bylaws, if applicable.
R. 
Evidence of RIDEM approval for individual sewage disposal systems (ISDS) for any development other than single-family. For detached single-family developments, submission of a preliminary ISDS suitability report for all proposed building lots.
S. 
Applicable approvals from the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission, including any archeological investigations.
T. 
Any Phase I or Phase II environmental surveys, if applicable.

§ 139-7 Certificate of completeness.

A. 
The Director of Planning and Zoning or his/her designee shall certify in writing an application for a comprehensive permit as complete or incomplete in accordance with the provisions of R.I.G.L. § 45-23-36 from the date it is received in the Planning Department; provided, however, that for a major land development or major subdivision, the certificate of completeness for a master plan must be granted within 30 days and for a preliminary plan must be granted within 45 days.
B. 
The running of the time periods set forth herein shall stop upon the issuance of a certificate of incompleteness of the application by the Director of Planning or his/her designee.

§ 139-8 Notification of local boards.

Upon issuance of a certificate of completeness of an application for a comprehensive permit, the Planning Department shall immediately notify the Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Review, Town Council and Building Official of the pendency of the application and shall forward a copy of the same to each entity.

§ 139-9 Review of minor projects.

A. 
A public hearing of a comprehensive permit application involving only a minor land development or minor subdivision or requesting relief from the Zoning Ordinance or regulations not otherwise set forth herein shall be conducted by the Planning Commission as soon as practicable.
B. 
The Planning Commission may seek advisory opinions from the Zoning Board of Review, Building Official, Conservation Commission, Town Council and such other board or other agency as it deems appropriate.
C. 
The Planning Commission shall render a decision on the application for a comprehensive permit application within 95 days of the issuance of the certificate of completeness.

§ 139-10 Review of major projects.

A. 
A public hearing of a comprehensive permit application involving a major land development and/or major subdivision shall be conducted by the Planning Commission as soon as practicable.
B. 
The Planning Commission may seek advisory opinions from the Zoning Board of Review, Building Official, Conservation Commission, Town Council and such other board or agency as it deems appropriate.
C. 
The Planning Commission shall render a decision on the application for a comprehensive permit within 120 days of the issuance of the certificate of completeness.

§ 139-11 Amendments to an application.

A. 
Any change requested by an applicant to an application which has been certified as complete shall be considered an amendment to the application and shall dissolve the certificate of completeness and suspend the running of any and all time periods.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II).
B. 
Within 14 days of such an amendment, the Planning Department shall issue a new certificate of completeness and refer it to all applicable boards or agencies and Town staff to review, or return it to the applicant if incomplete. All time periods shall thenceforth run from the date of the new certificate of completeness.
C. 
If a hearing is not convened or a decision is not rendered within the time period allowed, the application shall be deemed allowed and approved; provided, however, that any time period may be extended by mutual agreement between the Planning Commission and the applicant.

§ 139-12 Conditions to comprehensive permits.

The Planning Commission has the same power to issue permits or approvals that any local board or official who would otherwise act with respect to the application, including but not limited to authority to attach to the comprehensive permit or approval conditions and/or requirements with respect to height, site plan, size, shape, building materials, building density, traffic circulations, preservation of natural, historical or cultural features that contribute to the attractiveness of the community, as well as physical design requirements as set forth in R.I.G.L. § 45-23-44.

§ 139-13 Notice of public hearing.

A. 
Public notice of the hearing on the comprehensive permit application shall be given at least 14 days prior to the date of the hearing in a newspaper of general circulation within the Town pursuant to the Town's customary practices for this kind of advertising.
B. 
Notice shall be sent to the applicant and to each owner within 200 feet of the perimeter of the property for which the comprehensive permit is sought, by certified mail, return receipt requested, of the time and place of hearing not less than 10 days prior to the date of the hearing. The notice shall also include the street address of the subject property.
C. 
Said notice shall include the street address of the property for which the comprehensive permit is sought and a summary of the project.
D. 
Prior to hearing, the applicant shall file with the Planning Commission a notarized affidavit that notice provisions have been satisfied as well as return receipts of the certified mailings.
E. 
The cost of public notice and mailings shall be borne by the applicant. The Town may require the applicant to advance said costs in advance of the hearing and/or filing.

§ 139-14 Decision.

A. 
The Planning Commission shall render a decision within the applicable time period hereinbefore set forth.
B. 
A decision by the Planning Commission acting upon an application for a comprehensive permit shall be by a majority vote of the membership of the Planning Commission.
C. 
The Planning Commission may grant or deny any requests for waivers or relief from ordinances or regulations.
D. 
The Planning Commission may approve the comprehensive permit on the terms and conditions set forth in the application.
E. 
The Planning Commission may approve the comprehensive permit on conditions as more fully set forth in § 139-12 of this chapter.
F. 
The Planning Commission may deny the application for any of the following reasons:
(1) 
The proposal is inconsistent with the Town's Affordable Housing Plan; or
(2) 
The proposal is not consistent with the Town's local needs; or
(3) 
The proposal is not consistent with the Town's Comprehensive Plan and/or the Town's Zoning Ordinances and other regulations as promulgated pursuant to and in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan; or
(4) 
Coventry has met or plans to meet the goal of 10% of the year-round units, or the standard of 15% of the occupied rental housing units as defined in R.I.G.L. § 45-53-1 et seq.; or
(5) 
Concerns for the environment and the health and safety of the current residents of the Town of Coventry have not been adequately addressed in the application for the comprehensive permit.

§ 139-15 Duration of comprehensive permit.

A. 
A comprehensive permit shall expire unless construction commences within 12 months and is completed within 60 months of final plan approval unless a longer and/or phased period for development is agreed to by the Planning Commission and the applicant. Low- and moderate-income housing shall be constructed and occupied prior to or simultaneous with the construction and occupancy of market-rate units.
B. 
The Town's Building Official is authorized to monitor the progress of construction of such low- and moderate-income housing to insure such development.

§ 139-16 Appeals.

A. 
Any person aggrieved by issuance of approval of a comprehensive permit may appeal to the Rhode Island Supreme Court.
B. 
Whenever an applicant is denied a comprehensive permit or a comprehensive permit is granted upon conditions and requirements that the applicant deems make the building or operation of housing infeasible, the applicant may appeal the matter to the State Housing Appeals Board. The appeal must be taken within 20 days after date of the notice of decision by the Planning Commission.