The Town is hereby divided into zoning districts for the following purposes: to achieve compatibility of uses within each zone, to implement the Comprehensive Plan, and to serve the other purposes of this chapter. Zoning districts shall be depicted by type and location on the Zoning Map.
The following rules shall be used to determine the precise location of any zone boundary line shown on the Zoning Map:
Municipal boundary. Zone boundary lines shown as approximately following the Town’s municipal boundary line shall be construed to follow such municipal line.
Streets. Zone boundary lines shown as approximately following streets shall be construed to follow the center lines of such streets.
Property lines. Zone boundary lines shown as approximately following property lines as shown on the Westerly Tax Maps shall be construed to follow such Tax Map property lines. In the event that there is a conflict between the boundary lines shown on the Westerly Tax Maps and the recorded legal description of the property, the recorded legal description of the property shall govern.
[Amended 5-13-2019 by Ch. No. 1956]
Railroad lines. Zone boundary lines shown as approximately following railroad lines shall be construed to lie midway between the main tracks of such railroad lines.
Shorelines of tidal water bodies. Zone boundary lines shown as approximately following the shorelines of tidal water bodies shall be construed to follow the mean high waterlines of such water bodies and, in the event of change in the mean high waterline, shall be construed to move with the actual mean high waterline.
Streams, rivers, other watercourses. Zone boundary lines shown as approximately following streams, rivers, or other continuously flowing watercourses shall be construed to follow the channel center line of such watercourses taken at mean low water, and, in the event of a natural change in the location of such streams, rivers, or other watercourses, the zone boundary line shall be construed to move with the channel center line.
Ponds. Zone boundary lines shown as approximately following the shorelines of ponds shall be construed to follow the annual high waterline of such pond.
Planned development districts. The following planned development district are hereby established:
Overlay districts. The following overlay districts are hereby established:
[Amended 1-22-2018 by Ch. No. 1910]
Following are the general descriptions of the standard zoning districts. These are intended to be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan. Any modification of this chapter shall be consistent with the considerations set forth below and pertinent sections of the Comprehensive Plan.
Rural Residential 60. Rural Residential 60 Zoning District is intended for residential areas characterized by very low density development and comprised mostly of land that is currently used for agriculture and contains wetlands, other severe soil constraints, or other sensitive environmental characteristics. The rural residential districts are designed to protect many of the Town’s most valuable natural resources. (Note that within the watershed of the salt pond, a maximum density of one dwelling unit per two acres is required by the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Special Area Management Plan.) Rural Residential 60 is designed for those areas which do not have access to municipal sewers or municipal water.
Low-Density Residential 43. The Low-Density Residential 43 Zoning District is intended for residential areas, such as Watch Hill, which are comprised predominantly of large single-family homes on large lots and which are served by municipal water but not by municipal sewers systems. The minimum one-acre lot size is designed to preserve the existing character of such neighborhood.
Low-Density Residential 40. The Low-Density Residential 40 Zoning District is intended to protect and preserve areas of prime agricultural soils for continued agricultural and agriculturally orientated uses. The standards and densities prescribed for this district are intended to preserve the open character of the area and thereby to protect the business of agriculture. Residential use in this district is restricted to a minimum lot size of 40,000 square feet.
Medium-Density Residential 30 and 20. The Medium-Density Residential 30 and 20 Zoning Districts are generally intended for single-family neighborhoods adjacent to high-density areas. These zoning districts are designed to conform to existing development patterns rather than encourage major expansions beyond defined neighborhoods. Most areas within this district are connected to municipal water but not to municipal sewers. Specific provision is provided for alternative residential development of certain property of substantial size in the R-30 Zoning District.
High-Density Residential 15, 10 and 6. High-Density Residential 15, 10 and 6 Zoning Districts are intended primarily for areas of existing residential development. These zoning districts are designed for areas where existing densities are high, close to saturation, which include a variety of housing types. These areas are served by municipal water. Also except Misquamicut, they are served by municipal sewers.
Professional/Office. The Professional/Office Zoning District is intended to establish areas within which the Town encourages a concentration of professional office and related uses. Property in this district often provides a transitional area between more intense districts and residential districts.
Downtown Center 1 and 2. Downtown Center Zoning Districts are intended for areas comprising the downtown business core and immediately surrounding areas characterized by mixed uses, high-density residential uses and retail shops. The Downtown Center Zones are intended to preserve the distinct character of the downtown, which has special needs related to its historic mill town origins, in particular the preservation of historic buildings and facades.
General Commercial. The General Commercial Zoning District is intended for areas of historic commercial activity.
Highway Commercial. The Highway Commercial Zoning District is intended for areas which are primarily vehicle-oriented because of their location along major roads. An objective of this commercial zoning category is to address existing traffic safety problems associated with excessive curb cuts and to prevent further traffic problems from occurring with future development.
Neighborhood Business. The Neighborhood Business Zoning District is intended for areas characterized by small retail and personal service operations but surrounded by residential areas.
Marine Commercial. The Marine Commercial Zoning District is intended to establish an area dedicated to marine (water-dependent) and marine-related uses. Uses proposed for the portion of the river designated as Class 3, High-Intensity Boating in the Rhode Island CRMC Program, are consistent with that program.
Shore Commercial WH and G. Shore Commercial WH and G Zoning Districts are intended to promote the use of waterfront locations for servicing local and tourist seasonal businesses and water-related activities. The Shore Commercial Districts also provide for both direct and indirect access to the water by the general public. Shore Commercial G is located generally in Misquamicut and Shore Commercial WH is located in Watch Hill. Each zone is intended to allow uses in a manner which limits their impact on abutting residential areas.
General Industrial. The General Industrial Zoning District is intended for manufacturing uses. This zone is intended for industrial uses which must be segregated because of their incapability with other land uses; it is designed to provide for the infrastructure and operational requirements of industrial uses.
Light Industrial. The Light Industrial Zoning District is designed for areas which have historically housed industrial development in proximity to business and residence, and which would be incompatible with more extensive industrial use
Office Research Assembly and Technology. This district is designed to provide for office research assembly and technology uses that do not require extensive infrastructure, sewer, water, site development, or present a threat to sensitive environmental resource.
Other standard zoning districts.
Open Space and Recreation. The Open Space and Recreation Zoning District is intended for areas in use as open space and recreation. This district covers a variety of uses including the Town’s well fields, major parks and recreation areas, portions of the barrier beaches and cemeteries.
Commercial Recreational. The Commercial Recreational Zoning District is intended for areas that have historically housed commercial/recreational facilities although adjacent to residential areas in order to allow their continued existence subject to reasonable regulations and limitations on future expansion.
Planned development districts become mapped for a particular area of land by a zone change granted in conjunction with approval of a master plan of development for that particular area of land which includes requirements and regulations specific to that land.
Planned Resort Facilities Development. The Planned Resort Facilities Area concept is intended to recognize the Town as a tourist resort area and permit the growth of the industry, provided that such facilities are located in at least 80 acres as identified in the Town Comprehensive Plan and are designed to limit their impact on neighboring property.
[Amended 1-22-2018 by Ch. No. 1910; 5-13-2019 by Ch. No. 1956]
Overlay zoning districts are intended to provide additional regulations for particular areas of the Town. Overlay zoning district maps, to the extent the district exists or is created, shall be generated and incorporated into the "Official Zoning Map, Town of Westerly, Rhode Island, July 1, 2019," as amended, in accord with § 260-16.
Airport Area Overlay District.
Aquifer Protection Overlay District.
Salt Pond Overlay District (Reserved).
Historic Overlay District (Reserved).
River Corridor Overlay District (Reserved).
Post Road Overlay District (Reserved).
Bed-and-Breakfast/Guesthouse Overlay District.
Granite Street Overlay District.
Wells Street Overlay District.
Historic Mill District.
[Amended 1-22-2018 by Ch. No. 1910; 5-13-2019 by Ch. No. 1956]
The location and boundaries of zoning districts, including overlay zoning districts as identified in § 260-15, shall be prepared and administered in a digital format, such as within a geographic information system, and shall be entitled "Official Zoning Map, Town of Westerly, Rhode Island, July 1, 2019," as amended ("zoning map"). The zoning map shall be available for viewing and on file in the Town Clerk's Office in digital and hard-copy, such as paper, format. In addition, the zoning map shall also be available for viewing on the official Town of Westerly website.
In the event of a conflict between the digital and hard-copy formats of the zoning map, the digital zoning map shall govern. Whenever a change effecting the zoning map is adopted and the ordinance is filed with the Town Clerk, the digital zoning map shall be amended to reflect the change as an amended zoning map. A copy of any ordinance effecting a change to the zoning map shall also immediately be distributed to the Town of Westerly Zoning Official and the Town of Westerly Information Technology Department. The Town of Westerly Information Technology Department shall update the digital format of the zoning map within 90 days of receipt of an amending ordinance. Any costs incurred by the Town of Westerly in updating the digital format zoning map shall be borne by the applicant, unless that applicant is the Town of Westerly.