Town of Westerly, RI
Washington County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
A. 
Appointment. The Town Manager shall appoint a Zoning Official whose duties shall be to enforce the provisions of this chapter and to serve as chief administrative officer for the Zoning Board of Review, and who shall be administratively responsible to the Town Manager.
B. 
Qualifications. In order to qualify for the position of Zoning Official or Alternate Zoning Official, a person must demonstrate the ability:
(1) 
To comprehend in detail this Zoning Ordinance;
(2) 
To understand maps and plans and be able to relate them to structures and land uses on the ground;
(3) 
To identify violations of this chapter;
(4) 
To communicate orally and in writing the matters pertinent to his duties; and
(5) 
To carry out all of his duties under this chapter.
C. 
Alternate Zoning Official. The Town Manager may appoint an Alternate Zoning Official for a definite period not to exceed one year, to act on behalf of the Zoning Official during any period of disability caused by, but not limited to, illness, absence or conflict of interest.
D. 
Powers and duties. The Zoning Official shall be charged with the administration and enforcement of this chapter, and shall have the following powers and duties:
(1) 
Receiving and reviewing and making recommendations regarding all applications to the Zoning Board of Review and keeping all records of the Zoning Board of Review;
(2) 
Issuing zoning certificates;
(3) 
Reviewing and making disposition of requests for modification;
(4) 
Collecting required application fees;
(5) 
Keeping records documenting compliance of uses of land;
(6) 
Authorizing commencement of uses or development under the provisions of the Zoning Ordinance;
(7) 
Inspecting suspected violations;
(8) 
Issuing violation notices with required corrective action;
(9) 
Collecting fines for violations; and
(10) 
Exercising such powers and performing such other duties as may be set forth in this chapter.
A. 
Appointment. The Town Planner is appointed in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 34, Article IV, of the Code of the Town of Westerly.
B. 
Powers and duties. The Town Planner, in regard to the administration of this chapter, shall have the following powers and duties:
(1) 
Monitoring amendments to the Enabling Act and other state legislation affecting this Zoning Ordinance and making recommendations to the Planning Board regarding required amendments to this Zoning Ordinance.
(2) 
Making recommendations to the Planning Board regarding amendments to this Zoning Ordinance deemed appropriate in response to the Town’s emerging planning needs.
(3) 
Receiving, reviewing and making recommendations regarding applications to the Planning Board for development plan review.
A. 
Constitution of the Planning Board. The Planning Board shall be constituted and organized and its membership maintained in accordance with Chapter 5, Article V, Planning Board, of the Code of the Town of Westerly.
B. 
Powers and Duties. The Planning Board, in regard to the administration of this chapter, shall have the following powers and duties:
(1) 
Review of and disposition of applications for subdivisions of land in accordance with Chapter A261, Land Development and Subdivision Regulations.
(2) 
Review and disposition of applications for cluster development.
(3) 
Review and disposition of applications for development plan review.
(4) 
Advisory review of proposed amendments to this Zoning Ordinance (including the Zoning Map).
(5) 
Make studies and prepare plans and reports on the needs and resources of the community with reference to its physical, economic and social growth and development as affecting the health, safety, morals, and general welfare of the people. The studies, plans and reports shall concern but shall not necessarily be limited to the following:
(a) 
Land use and land use regulations.
(b) 
Transportation facilities.
(c) 
Public facilities including recreation areas, utilities.
(d) 
Schools, fire stations.
(e) 
Police station and others.
(f) 
Lighted areas including the designation of general areas for redevelopment, renewal, rehabilitation, or conservation.
(g) 
Problems of housing and the development of housing programs.
(h) 
Environmental protection.
(i) 
Natural resource conservation.
(j) 
Protection from disaster.
(k) 
Economic and social characteristics of the population.
(l) 
Preservation of historic sites and buildings.
(m) 
Economic development.
(6) 
When directed by the Town Council, prepare an annual capital budget and a comprehensive long-range capital improvement program.
(7) 
Submit an advisory opinion and recommendation on all zoning matters referred to it under the provisions of this chapter and report on any other matter referred to it by the Town Council.
(8) 
Perform such other duties as may be assigned to the Board from time to time by any act of the General Assembly or by ordinance, code, regulation, order or resolution of the Town Council.
A. 
Constitution of Zoning Board of Review. The Zoning Board of Review shall be constituted in accordance with the following:
(1) 
Establishment. There is hereby created a Zoning Board of Review.
(2) 
Membership and terms.
[Amended 3-10-2014 by Ch. No. 1813; 10-20-2014 by Ch. No. 1831]
(a) 
The Zoning Board of Review shall be appointed by the Town Council and shall consist of five members, each to hold office for the term of five years; provided, however, that the original appointments shall be made for terms of one, two, three, four, and five years, respectively. The Zoning Board of Review shall also include two alternates, to be designated as the first and second alternate members, their terms to be for five years. These alternate members shall sit and may actively participate in hearings. The first alternate shall vote if one member of the Board is unable to serve at a hearing and the second shall vote if two members of the Board are unable to serve at a hearing. In the absence of the first alternate member, the second alternate member shall serve in the position of the first alternate. No member or alternate may vote on any matter before the Board unless he or she has attended all hearings concerning that matter. Members of the Zoning Board of Review, at the time of their appointment and for the duration of their term, shall be residents and qualified to vote in the Town of Westerly.
(b) 
No member of the Zoning Board of Review shall serve more than two consecutive terms, to be followed by a one-year hiatus, after which the member may be appointed to this Board or another appointed Board.
(3) 
Removal. The Town Council is hereby empowered to remove persons from the Zoning Board of Review if, by virtue of their absence at meetings of the Board or otherwise, they have failed to reasonably fulfill their duties, such action by the Council to be taken only upon written notice by the Council to the persons involved and the right to appear and speak at the Council’s deliberations. The Council shall also fill vacancies for the remainder of any unexpired terms which may occur on the Zoning Board of Review.
(4) 
Original terms. Members of the Zoning Board of Review serving on the effective date of adoption of this Zoning Ordinance shall be exempt from provisions of this chapter respecting terms of originally appointed members until the expiration of their current terms.
(5) 
Chairperson. The Zoning Board of Review shall annually elect by majority vote a Chairperson, who shall preside over meetings of the Board. At hearings of the Board, the Chairperson or, in his or her absence, the Acting Chairperson may administer oaths and compel the attendance of witnesses by the issuance of subpoenas.
(6) 
Meetings/hearings. Meetings of the Board shall be held at the call of the Chairperson or at the request of three members of the Board, and at such other times as the Board may determine. All hearings of the Board shall be open to the public.
B. 
Powers and duties. The Zoning Board of Review, in regard to the administration of this chapter, shall have the following powers and duties:
(1) 
To hear and decide appeals in a timely fashion where it is alleged there is error in any order, requirement, decision, or determination made by the Zoning Official, the Town Planner or Planning Board.
(2) 
To hear and decide appeals from a decision of the Planning Board pursuant to Article IX of Chapter A261, Land Development and Subdivision Regulations, adopted November 30, 1995, as amended.
(3) 
To hear and decide requests for variance.
(4) 
To hear and decide applications for special use permit.
(5) 
To provide for issuance of conditional approval of any special permit or variance application under this chapter which would otherwise be approved except that one or more state or federal agency approvals are required and are pending. A conditional zoning approval shall expire within one year of issuance if the necessary state and federal approvals have not been issued; provided, however, that the Board may extend a conditional zoning approval for successive periods of one year if the applicant demonstrates that he is actively pursuing the necessary approvals and that a final decision has not been rendered.
(6) 
To refer matters to the Planning Board or to other municipal or state boards or agencies as the Zoning Board of Review may deem appropriate, for review, findings and recommendations.
(7) 
To hear and decide such other matters as authorized by and in accordance with the terms of this chapter or state statutes.
C. 
Voting. The Zoning Board of Review shall be required to vote as follows:
(1) 
Five active members shall be necessary to conduct a hearing. As soon as a conflict of interest occurs for a member, that member shall recuse himself or herself. A recused member shall take no part in the hearing as a Board member, but may participate in the hearing as a citizen. Only five active members shall be entitled to vote on any issue; all active members not recused shall vote on any matter before the Board;
(2) 
The concurring vote of three of the five members of the Zoning Board of Review sitting at a hearing shall be necessary to reverse any order, requirement, decision, or determination of the official or agency from whom an appeal was taken; and
(3) 
The concurring vote of four of the five members of the Zoning Board of Review sitting at a hearing shall be required to approve any application before the Board.
D. 
Minutes of proceedings. The Zoning Board of Review shall keep written minutes of its proceedings, showing the vote of each member upon each question, or if absent or failing to vote, indicating such fact, and shall keep records of its examinations, findings of fact, and other official actions, all of which shall be recorded and filed in the office of the Zoning Board of Review in an expeditious manner upon completion of the proceeding. For any proceeding in which the right of appeal lies to the Superior or Supreme Court of the state, the Zoning Board of Review shall have the proceeding recorded either by a competent stenographer or by a sound-recording device.
The Town Council, in regard to this chapter, shall have the following powers and duties:
A. 
To appoint Zoning Board members and alternate Zoning Board members.
B. 
To receive and review recommendations of the Planning Board regarding amendments to either the text of this Zoning Ordinance and/or to the Zoning Map.
C. 
To present for public hearing and enact amendments to this chapter and the Zoning Map.
D. 
To establish application fees in accordance with § 260-6.
A. 
Violations. It shall be unlawful for any person to construct, erect, or alter any building or structure, or develop, change, or improve land except in accordance with the provisions of this chapter and of plans approved in accordance with the procedures of this chapter.
B. 
Enforcement. Upon finding a violation, the Zoning Official shall serve notice by personal service or by certified mail on the person committing or permitting the violation and on the owner of the property as shown on the Town’s current real estate tax assessment records, which notice shall specify the nature of the violation and order the action necessary to correct it. Such notice shall give a compliance date which the Zoning Official shall establish based upon the time reasonably required to comply. Upon notification of any violation of this chapter which has not been corrected by the compliance date, the Town Solicitor is hereby authorized to initiate legal proceedings to prevent, enjoin, abate, or remove such violation.
C. 
Violations and penalties. A penalty may be assessed for any violation of the terms of this chapter or of any conditions or restrictions imposed pursuant to it. The penalty for violation shall be reasonably proportionate to the seriousness of the offense, and shall not exceed $500 per violation, each day such violation continues to be deemed a separate offense. Fines for violation shall inure to the Town.
A. 
Custody. The Town Clerk shall be the custodian of this Zoning Ordinance and of the Zoning Map.
B. 
Maintenance. The Town Clerk shall be responsible for the maintenance and update of the ordinance text and the Zoning Map comprising the Zoning Ordinance. Changes which affect the Zoning Map shall be depicted on the Zoning Map by the Town Engineer within 90 days of the authorized change(s) and filed with the Town Clerk.
C. 
Periodic review. The Town Planner shall be responsible for reviewing this Zoning Ordinance at reasonable intervals; whenever changes are made to the Comprehensive Plan, the Town Planner shall be responsible for identifying any amendments to this Zoning Ordinance required by such changes to the Comprehensive Plan and for forwarding such proposed ordinance amendments, with recommendations of the Planning Board, to the Town Council.
D. 
Availability to public. Printed copies of this Zoning Ordinance (including the Zoning Map), revised to include all amendments, shall be available to the general public. A reasonable charge may be made for copies to reflect printing and distribution costs.
E. 
Copy to state agencies. Upon publication of this Zoning Ordinance and the Zoning Map, and any amendments thereto, the Town Clerk shall send a copy, without charge, to the Associate Director of the Division of Planning of the Department of Administration of the State of Rhode Island and to the State Law Library.