Town of Charlestown, RI
Washington County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by Town Council of the Town of Charlestown 1-10-1983. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Conduct of Council meetings — See Charter, Art. VII.
Ordinances — See Charter, Art. IX, and Ch. 34.
Public hearings — See Ch. 51.
[Amended 4-8- 1991 by Ord. No. 180; 8-11-1992 by Ord. No. 186; 8-15-2006 by Ord. No. 296]
The first meeting of a newly elected Council shall be held on the first Monday following certification of the election of its members by the canvassing authority; thereafter, the Town Council shall meet on the second Monday in each month at 7:00 p.m. and also, where it is warranted and necessary, on the fourth Monday in each month. If any regular meeting of the Council shall fall on a legal holiday, the meeting of Council shall be held on the day following at the same time, unless decided beforehand by the Town Council at the previous month's meeting.
At its organizational meeting, the Council shall elect a Council President and a Council Vice President from among its members, and the President shall be recognized as head of the town government for all ceremonial purposes and by the Governor for purposes of military law.
Upon the anniversary date of initial organizational meeting or Council meeting nearest to it, Council members may reorganize the remaining year of office.
All meetings of the Council, including special and emergency meetings and work sessions, shall be open to the public, except those exempt under the provisions of Title 42, Chapter 46, of the Rhode Island General Laws, as the same may be amended from time to time.
[Amended 4-8-1991 by Ord. No. 180]
All matters shall be voted upon by the Council at an open regular meeting or at an open special or emergency meeting.
[Amended 4-8-1991 by Ord. No. 180; 8-15-2006 by Ord. No. 296]
All regular, special and emergency meetings and their agendas must be advertised in a local newspaper, except when an emergency meeting is called, and must be posted in accordance with the provisions of Title 42, Chapter 46, of the Rhode Island General Laws, as the same may be amended from time to time. Nothing contained herein shall prevent the Council from holding an emergency meeting, upon an affirmative vote of the majority of the members of the Council, when the meeting is deemed necessary, where the public welfare so requires. If an emergency meeting is called, a meeting notice and agenda shall be posted as soon as practicable.
Special meetings may be held at anytime upon the call of the Council President or upon the call of any two (2) of the members of the Council; provided, however, that no business shall be transacted at special meetings, except upon the majority consent of the members of the Council present and voting, unless notice thereof shall have been included in the call of the meeting. Notice thereof shall be served or delivered to the legal residence of each member of the Town Council.
A quorum shall consist of three (3) members of the Council; provided, however, that a majority of the members of the Council present and voting, whether or not a quorum shall be present, may vote to adjourn a meeting to any other definite time and compel the attendance of absent members.
The President and, in his absence, the Vice President of the Town Council, both elected at the organizational meeting, shall preside at all meetings of the Council.
In the event of the absence or the disability of the President and Vice President, the Council shall elect one from among its members present to perform such duties during such absence or disability.
The President shall take the chair at the hour designated for the meeting of the Council and shall promptly call the members to order. The President shall enforce, on all occasions, the observance and decorum among the members and people in attendance. The President shall decide all questions of and points of order, subject to an appeal to the Town Council by any one (1) member. No other business shall be in order until the question or appeal on the point of order shall have been decided by a majority of the members present. The President may speak on points of order in preference to other members, and he/she may speak on general questions, but he/she shall take the floor to do so. The President shall distinctly state and put to vote all ordinances, resolutions and questions.
[Amended 4-8-1991 by Ord. No. 180]
The affirmative roll call vote of three (3) Council members shall be necessary for the passage of any ordinance. On all resolutions, questions, orders, reports and communications, the affirmative vote of a majority of Council members present shall decide any issue. The vote upon any matter shall, upon the request of two (2) Council members, be taken by roll call. The votes of the members of the Council shall be taken and entered on the records of said Town Council. After a roll call vote has been ordered, said roll call shall not be interrupted, delayed or stopped by any member of the Council for any reason whatsoever. All roll calls shall be alphabetical, except that the name of the President of the Council shall be called last. In case of a tie vote, the motion is not carried or passed. A member may explain his/her vote.
No member of the Council shall vote on any proposition through which the member, directly or indirectly, could financially benefit.
Editor's Note: For related provisions, see the Charter, § C-186.
After the result of a vote is announced, a motion to reconsider is in order. It must be made by a member who voted with the prevailing side. Any member who voted with the prevailing side may second it. No ordinance, resolution, question or vote can be twice reconsidered.
Any member desiring to speak shall address the President, and, after his/her right to speak has been recognized, he/she shall not be interrupted while speaking, except by a call to order or for the correction of a mistake or to yield to a member. He/she shall confine his/her remarks to the question under debate and shall avoid personalities. No member shall speak more than once on the same question until all members desiring to speak thereon shall have done so, and in no event shall a member speak more than twice on any question. There shall be no conversation among members while a member is speaking, while a roll call is being taken, while a paper is being read or while a question is being stated by the President.
Any person addressing the Town Council shall, while speaking, be subject to the same rules and shall be entitled to the same privileges or order as pertain to a member of the Town Council; provided, however, that a member of the Town Council may interrupt such a speaker for the purpose of asking a question or obtaining information.
The heads of departments or divisions thereof and members of boards and commissions, in matters relating to the functions of their offices, and any other elected officials shall have the right to appear before the Council for the purpose of expressing their views on matters pending before it.
Any citizen or group of citizens shall have the right to petition the Council with regard to any matter within the jurisdiction of the Council, setting forth specifically the purpose of the petition and the relief desired.
The press shall be allowed on the floor of the Town Council chambers.
[Amended 8-14-2007 by Ord. No. 305; 2-9-2009 by Ord. No. 309; 2-9-2015 by Ord. No. 368]
The order of business at each meeting may include the following:
Call To Order, Pledge of Allegiance and Moment of Silence
Roll Call
Council Sitting as Beverage Licensing Board
Consent Agenda
Council Comments
Administrator, Solicitor, Commission/Committee Comments & Reports
Public Comment (for items not on the agenda)
Public Hearings
Ordinances and Resolutions
Communications and Petitions
Licenses and Permits
Persons Wishing to be Heard
Appointments and Resignations
Fiscal Matters
Legal Matters
Unfinished Business
New Business
Adjournment (10:00 p.m. curfew unless voted otherwise)
The Town Council, upon taking office at the first regularly scheduled Town Council meeting, may adopt a "Council Agenda" to include, but not be limited to the "order of business" contained in § 15-14 of the Code. Each new Town Council may adopt the order in which the Council business is conducted and if deemed appropriate, and additional subcategories of Council business as it deems necessary to conduct the business of the Council.
Editor's Note: Former § 15-25, Order of precedence of motions, and former § 15-16, Debate or withdrawal of motion, were repealed 4-8-1991 by Ord. No. 180.
The enacting clause of all ordinances shall be: "The Town Council of the Town of Charlestown hereby ordains ...."
Editor's Note: For related provisions, see the Charter, § C-37.
[Amended 4-8-1991 by Ord. No. 180]
Every ordinance shall bear the written signature of the member of the Council presenting the same. Every ordinance shall be filed with the Town Clerk not later than four (4) business days prior to the meeting at which it is to be introduced.
Every ordinance, except general codifications and revisions of the town ordinances, shall contain not more than one (1) subject, which shall be clearly and adequately expressed in its title.
No ordinance shall be so amended on its passage to change its original purpose.
Every ordinance, other than an emergency ordinance, shall be read a first time by title and explained by its sponsor at the meeting at which it is introduced and then referred to a subsequent regular meeting for action.
In an emergency affecting the public peace, health, safety, comfort and welfare of the inhabitants of the town and for protection of persons and property, the Council, by an affirmative roll can vote of three (3) members, may adopt, on the day of its introduction, an ordinance containing a declaration of emergency, which shall take effect upon its passage. The nature of the emergency shall be specifically stated in the ordinance, and such declaration shall be conclusive as to the existence of such an emergency. Every emergency ordinance shall automatically stand repealed as of the 61st day following the date on which it was adopted, but this shall not prevent reenactment of the ordinance in the manner specified in this section if the emergency still exists.
The Town Clerk shall forthwith post one (1) copy of the proposed ordinance or resolution, together with all amendments thereto, in some place accessible to the public in the Town Hall and shall provide each member of the Council with a copy.
If a petition requesting a public hearing on an ordinance or resolution is presented to the Town Clerk at least ten (10) days before the next regular meeting and signed by at least twenty (20) qualified electors of the town, such a hearing shall be held in the Council chamber at the meeting next following its introduction. No action shall be taken on the ordinance until the conclusion of the hearing.
A public hearing shall be mandatory on any ordinance amending the Zoning Ordinance,[1] granting a franchise or creating or amending a personnel classification system, and no such ordinance shall be passed as an emergency ordinance.
Editor's Note: See Ch. 218, Zoning.
The Council shall not enact any ordinance or resolution which shall in any way affect the Zoning Ordinance;[1] the physical development plan of the town; the existing and proposed location and arrangement of the uses of the land; transportation routes; plans of streets and revisions of such plans; public facilities; public utility systems; deteriorating or blighted neighborhoods planned for redevelopment, rehabilitation or other improvement; natural resources and historic sites to be preserved; disaster survival proposals; and land subdivision plans; acquisition or sale of town real estate, other than real estate acquired at tax sales of the town, without first submitting any such ordinance or resolution to the Town Planning Commission for its recommendation. Nothing, however, shall be construed to restrict or prevent the Council from acting on any ordinance or resolution contrary to or in absence of a recommendation of the Commission.
Editor's Note: See Ch. 218, Zoning.
All ordinances and resolutions involving the purchase or acquisition of land or the sales or leasing of town-owned land or the change of the Zoning Ordinance[1] shall be accompanied by a plat plan showing the location, area and other necessary details of the same, and copies of such plat plan shall be furnished each member of the Council prior to the meeting at which such matters shall be acted upon.
Editor's Note: See Ch. 218, Zoning.
The Town Clerk shall prepare and/or cause to be prepared for the information of the members of the Town Council a docket on which there will be a definite statement or summary of all ordinances, resolutions, orders, reports, communications and other business to be considered at each meeting of the Town Council. The members of the Town Council and heads of departments having ordinances, resolutions, orders, reports, communications and other business to present to the Town Council for consideration shall file with the Town Clerk, in proper form, said resolutions, orders, reports, minutes, communications and other business no later than the Monday prior to the day of the regularly scheduled Council meeting at which it is to be introduced, in order that the same may be presented on the docket. No ordinance, resolution, order, report, communication and other business shall be considered as having been introduced unless notice of said business shall have been filed with the Town Clerk as herein provided and said ordinance, resolution, order, report, communication or other business appears on the prepared docket or unless the Council, by a majority of those present, shall allow the introduction of such from the floor without it appearing on the docket. The Town Clerk shall cause a copy of the docket to be delivered to the legal residence of each member of the Town Council no later than 5:30 p.m. on the business day previous to each regular meeting of the Town Council.
The Council may revise the budget that was submitted to it by the Budget Commission, and it, the Council, shall adopt a recommended budget at a special or regular Council meeting for presentation at the budget hearing.
The Council shall hold a public hearing on the recommended budget at least thirty (30) days preceding the Financial Town Meeting, and the Town Clerk shall publish legal notice of the hearing in a newspaper having a distribution within the Town of Charlestown. Sufficient copies of the budget shall be prepared for public distribution at least seven (7) days prior to the budget hearing.
After the hearing, should any revisions to the budget as presented be made, then within ten (10) days after the hearing such revisions shall be published in a similar manner.
The Council shall submit its printed report comprising the budget and budget message to the Financial Town Meeting, to be held on the first Monday in May at 7:45 p.m., and shall make its recommendations for expenditures and taxes or other revenues which will be necessary to pay such expenses.
If there are any parliamentary practices, procedures, customs and rules not covered within this chapter, Robert's Rules of Order, revised, 75th Anniversary Edition, shall govern where it does not conflict with state or town statutes, except that the President and President Pro Tempore of the Town Council shall be elected by the majority of the members elected.
The foregoing rules shall not be altered, amended, suspended or repealed at any time, except by the vote of the majority of the whole number of members elected to the Town Council.