Town of Johnston, RI
Providence County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Amended 7-14-1997 by Ord. No. 999; 4-9-2007 by Ord. No. 2006-6]
For the purpose of this chapter, the Town of Johnston is divided into the following zoning districts:
A. 
Residence R-40 District. This district covers a large portion of the Town into which urban-type development should logically expand as the need arises. This district is characterized by a commingling of open land interspersed with residential uses.
B. 
Residence R-20 District. This district is composed of certain quiet, medium-low-density residential areas of the Town plus certain open areas where similar residential development appears likely to occur.
C. 
Residence R-15 District. This district is composed of certain medium-density residential areas where similar development appears desirable.
D. 
Residence R-10 District. This district is composed of certain medium-high-density residential areas that are served by both public water and public sewers.
E. 
Residence R-7 District. This district is composed of certain high-density areas that are served by both public water and public sewers.
F. 
Neighborhood Business B-l District. This district is composed of certain land and structures used primarily to provide for the retailing of commodities classified by merchants as "convenience goods," such as groceries and drugs, and the furnishing of selected personal services.
G. 
General Business B-2 District. This district is composed of certain land and structures to provide for the retailing of commodities and the furnishing of services which depend upon a great volume of vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
H. 
Interchange Business B-3 District. This district is composed of large-scale, mixed-use development of a regional scale which may contain high-density residential, retail/commercial, office, light manufacturing projects and distribution facilities. The district is located at the highway interchanges within the Town.
[Amended 9-10-2018 by Ord. No. 2018-15]
I. 
Industrial I District. This district is composed of certain land so situated as to be suitable for industrial development. The purpose of this district is to permit the normal operation of a large number of industries, subject only to those regulations needed to control congestion and to protect nearby residential and business districts.
J. 
Industrial I-S District. This district is composed of certain land and uses which due to the peculiar nature of their activities require locations remote from classes of land use or require additional safeguards.
K. 
Industrial I-L District. This district is composed of certain land so situated as to be suitable for light industrial development. The purpose of this district is to permit the operation of a limited number of industrial uses and heavy business uses that will be compatible with nearby residential and business districts.
L. 
Planned District (PD). This district is intended to be established from time to time to fit the general pattern of land use established by this chapter for the development of the Town and to further the purposes set forth in § 340-2. Planned Districts are established to encourage development of harmonious, efficient and convenient neighborhoods and business developments by promoting variety in land use, residential density and site design through clustering of buildings and the preservation of unique natural features of the site.
[Amended 2-17-2011 by Ord. No. 2010-27]
M. 
Planned Mixed-Use Development District (PMUD). This district is a subcategory of a Planned District. As set forth in § 340-93, a PMUD must have access to all major utilities, including municipal water and sewer service, and not be located adjacent to an R-40 or lower-density residential zone. In addition, a PMUD must be located adjacent to an existing business zone.
[Amended 2-17-2011 by Ord. No. 2010-27]
N. 
Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). This district is a subcategory of a Planned District with a mix of retirement care uses that may include assisted, independent and intergenerational living with supportive services that may include skilled nursing and rehabilitative care, home health care, adult day care and personalized assistance designed to respond to the individual needs of those who need help with activities of daily living.
[Added 2-17-2011 by Ord. No. 2010-27]
[Amended 4-9-2007 by Ord. No. 2006-6]
The boundaries of the above zoning districts are hereby established as shown on the map filed in the office of the Town Clerk, entitled "Johnston Zoning Map," which Zoning Map is hereby adopted and made part of this chapter. The map entitled "Plat Index Zoning Map, Town of Johnston, Rhode Island," filed at the office of the Town Clerk, is intended as an index to the boundaries of the zoning districts established by the aforesaid plats but is intended to be used as a reference only and is not made part of this chapter.
[Amended 4-9-2007 by Ord. No. 2006-6]
Where uncertainty exists as to the boundaries of districts as shown on the Zoning Map, the following rules shall apply:
A. 
Boundaries indicated as approximately following the center lines of a highway, street, alley, railroad, watercourse or body of water shall be construed to be center line, or middle thereof, or where such boundaries indicated as approximately following Town limits shall be construed as following such Town limits.
B. 
Boundaries indicated as approximately following platted lot lines shall be construed as following such lot lines.
C. 
Where a district boundary line divides a lot which was in single ownership at the time of passage of this chapter, the Zoning Board may permit, as a special use permit, the extension of the regulations for either portion of the lot not to exceed 30 feet beyond the district line into the remainder of the lot.
D. 
Boundaries indicated as following shorelines shall be construed to follow such shorelines "at the mean high waterline" and in event of change in the shoreline shall be construed as moving with the actual shoreline.
E. 
Boundaries indicated as parallel to or extensions of features indicated in the above subsections shall be so construed. Distances not specifically indicated on the Zoning Map shall be determined by the scale of the map.
F. 
Where physical or cultural features existing on the ground are at variance with those shown on the Zoning Map, or in other circumstances not covered by the above subsections, the Zoning Board shall interpret the district boundaries.
[Amended 4-8-1996 by Ord. No. 968; 6-9-1997 by Ord. No. 1004; 7-14-1998 by Ord. No. 1039; 5-24-1999 by Ord. No. 1082; 4-9-2007 by Ord. No. 2006-6]
The Table of Use Regulations is located at the end of this chapter and is fully incorporated herein by reference. The status of the uses listed in the Table of Use Regulations is indicated by a letter appearing in the appropriate column headings. The interpretation of these letters shall be as follows:
P
=
The use is permitted in the designated zoning district.
S
=
The use is permitted only as a special use in the designated zoning district. Such special use may be granted by the Zoning Board under the standards and procedures outlined in § 340-75 and elsewhere in this chapter.
N
=
The use is not permitted in the designated zoning district.
[Added 6-14-2004 by Ord. No. 2004-9]
The Table of Dimensional Regulations is located at the end of this chapter and is fully incorporated herein by reference.
[Added 11-9-2009 by Ord. No. 2009-17]
A. 
Purpose.
(1) 
The Redevelopment Overlay District (ROD) regulations are established in order to encourage and accommodate planned commercial development when it is compatible with surrounding uses and on land that could be suitably used as regulated by the underlying zone.
(2) 
In order to provide for an area of this type of development, a Redevelopment Overlay District has been created. The purpose of the Redevelopment Overlay District (ROD) is to provide areas for economic development in the Town of Johnston that are well designed and to provide for a variety of uses.
B. 
Intent. The ROD is intended to provide for a diversity of compatible land uses and development densities in suitable locations throughout the Town of Johnston. The district may include a mixture of office, retail, hotel, recreational, open space, and other uses as described below.
C. 
Conformity to Comprehensive Plan. All development within the Redevelopment Overlay District (ROD) shall conform to the goals, policies and guidelines as set forth in the Town of Johnston Comprehensive Community Plan. In order to demonstrate such conformity, the applicant shall be required to submit a description of all proposed development to the Planning Board. This description shall be a statement, in text, maps, illustrations or other media of communication that is designed to provide a basis for rational decision making regarding the long-term physical development of the Redevelopment Overlay District.
D. 
Applicability. Provisions of this section shall apply only to property located in the zoning district entitled "Redevelopment Overlay District," or ROD, as shown on the Official Zoning Map.
E. 
Procedure for approval.
(1) 
For new uses on undeveloped land, development within the ROD shall be reviewed and approved by the Johnston Planning Board as a major land development project. In order to expedite the review and approval of major land development projects within the district, the Johnston Planning Board may combine the stages of review as provided in the Subdivision and Land Development Review Regulations.
(2) 
Existing conforming uses seeking approval for significant expansion shall be reviewed as new uses. Existing nonconforming uses within the district may be continued.
F. 
Permitted uses. All uses listed below in Table 1, Permitted Uses, shall be permitted in the ROD. The Johnston Planning Board shall determine, at the time of review for approval of, or amendment to, a previously approved land development project within the ROD, that the proposed use is consistent with the Comprehensive Community Plan; provided, however, that the Johnston Planning Board may not approve any use unless listed in Table 1. Changes in use of land or buildings or any combination thereof to an approved land development project shall be reviewed by the Administrative Officer as provided in the Subdivision and Land Development Review Regulations.
Table 1 Permitted Uses
Classification
(as per Section D)
Use Description
Subsection 1 Agricultural uses.
7.
Commercial greenhouse or nursery
Subsection 2 Residential uses.
8.
Motel, hotel or tourist court
Subsection 4 Public and semipublic uses.
2.
Clubs, lodges, social and community center buildings
3.
Charitable institution
4.
Municipal and government building
6.
Fire or police station
10.
Individual instruction
11.
Day nursery, nursery school, kindergarten or other agency giving day care to children
14.
School conducted as a private gainful business for teaching subjects as instrumental music, singing, and dancing
15.
Public/semipublic office related use, with drive-through window and/or exterior (outside) automated service center/facility as a principal use
16.
Public/semipublic office related use, with drive-through window and/or exterior (outside) automated service center/facility as an accessory use
Continuing care retirement community (CCRD) (Ordinance No. 2008-13[1])
Subsection 6 Office uses.
2.
Professional office, real estate, insurance agency, etc.
3.
Bank or bank building, credit union or office building
5.
Office for wholesale or manufacturing use
6.
Office building
7.
Office complex for one or more tenants, veterinary clinic, medical uses, financial institutions
8.
Office use, with drive-through window and/or exterior (outside) automated service center/facility as a main use
9.
Office use, with drive-through window and/or exterior (outside) automated service center/facility as an accessory use
Subsection 7 Transportation uses.
3.
Commercial off-street parking facility
4.
Motor or rail freight terminal
5.
Bus or rail passenger terminal
Subsection 8 Restaurant and entertainment.
1a.
Lunchroom or restaurant not including entertainment or liquor
1b.
Lunchroom or restaurant including entertainment or liquor
2.
Tavern or nightclub
3.
Theater or concert hall
4.
Indoor commercial recreation
5.
Drive-in or car-hop restaurant
9.
Food service/restaurant use, with drive-through window and/or exterior (outside) automated service center/facility as a main use
10.
Food service/restaurant use, with drive-through window and/or exterior (outside) automated service center/facility as an accessory use
Subsection 9 Service business.
1.
Personal convenience service, including but not limited to the following: barbershop, beautician, shoe repair, cleanser, laundry pickup
2.
Specialty services, including but not limited to the following: printing and Photostat shop, tailor, photo studio, interior decorating shop, catering services
5.
Veterinary office or animal hospital
6.
Gasoline filling station, including the temporary storage of inoperable vehicles (no major repairs)
7.
General automobile repair, including outdoor storage or repairable vehicles
10.
Vehicle rental agency
11.
Coin-operated car wash
12.
Coin-operated laundromat or dry-cleaning shop
14.
Service business use, with drive-through window and/or exterior (outside) automated service center/facility as a main use
15.
Service business use, with drive-through window and/or exterior (outside) automated service center/facility as an accessory use
Subsection 10 Retail business.
1.
Grocery, bakery, drug, dairy product store, egg and poultry store, delicatessen store, meat, fish and seafood store
2.
Supermarket
3.
Fruit or vegetable stand
4.
Garden supply store, florist shop
5.
Package liquor store
6.
Bookstore, card shop, gifts, novelty or souvenir store, hobby supply store, jewelry store, musical instruments and record store; newsstand, notions store, tobacco store, toy store
7.
General merchandise, department store, furniture and household goods
8.
Apparel and accessories store; dry goods store, luggage store, sporting goods store and hardware store
9.
Automobile accessories store; bicycle store
13.
Used furniture
14.
Antique sales
17.
Retail use, with drive-through window and/or exterior (outside) automated service center/facility as a main use
18.
Retail use, with drive-through window and/or exterior (outside) automated service center/facility as an accessory use
Subsection 11 Wholesale business and storage.
1.
Wholesale business, storage and distribution of nonflammable and nonexplosive materials within a structure
4.
Storage of flammable or explosive material
6.
Retail outlet for a wholesale storage of manufacturing use
7.
Storage of heating fuels
[1]
Editor's Note: Ordinance No. 2008-13 was repealed 2-17-2011 by Ord. No. 2010-24.
G. 
Dimensional and density standards. Developments proposing a subdivision or existing lots of record within the ROD utilized for a singular use shall conform to the following table:
Table 2. Dimensional and Density Standards
Area Minimum
Width Minimum
Front Yard Minimum
(feet)
Side Yard Minimum
(feet)
Rear Yard Maximum
(feet)
Maximum Floors
Maximum Lot Building Coverage
All uses
N/A
N/A
20
10
40
6
100%
(1) 
Supplemental dimensional standards:
(a) 
For structures on the same lot or on commonly owned land, the dimensional standards above shall apply. In addition, the minimum separation between buildings on the same lot or commonly owned land shall be zero feet if attached to an adjacent building.
H. 
(Reserved)
I. 
Circulation standards. The circulation system shall provide functional links and shall be connected to existing and proposed external development. The circulation system shall provide adequate traffic capacity and promote safe and efficient mobility through the ROD.
(1) 
Site access. The intent of the ROD is to limit access onto existing public rights-of-way to strategically placed locations. In addition, the location(s) shall be designed to effectively allow for the efficient and same movement of vehicular traffic in and out of the ROD. The following shall apply to new and existing uses within the ROD:
(a) 
New uses. All new uses constructed after the effective date of this section shall be provided with vehicular access to a common internal street(s) or frontage road(s) that shall intersect with a public right-of-way at a location(s) approved by the Johnston Planning Board.
(b) 
Expanded existing uses. In reviewing applications for expanded existing uses having existing driveway access on an existing public right-of-way, the Johnston Planning Board shall determine if such access to the expanded use would be safe, attractive and otherwise consistent with the intent and purpose of the ROD and shall make its findings in writing. Based on these findings, the Board may permit the expanded use(s) to utilize existing access.
(c) 
Existing uses. All existing uses with direct vehicular access to a public right-of-way shall be permitted to retain such access. Change of existing uses to other permitted uses in the ROD or additions or enlargements which do not involve significant expansion of a structure shall not require new access.
(d) 
Approval. All new uses and expanded existing uses must be approved by the Johnston Fire Marshal.
J. 
Parking requirements, standards, and design.
(1) 
Parking requirements. The base parking requirements per use shall be as follows:
Table 3. Parking Requirements
Use
Minimum Parking Spaces
Hotels
1 per room plus 5% for employees
Office
3 per 1,000 square feet
Retail/commercial
3 per 1,000 square feet
Restaurant
1 per 4 seats plus 20% for employees
All other uses
3 per 1,000 square feet
(2) 
Shared on-site parking. As part of the approval process within the ROD, the applicant may request reductions to minimum requirements or alternative methods for meeting the required parking based on an analysis of peak parking demands for the proposed uses.
(3) 
Off-site parking. Separate from, or in conjunction with, shared-parking provisions, applicants may use off-site parking to satisfy their parking requirements in accordance with the following conditions:
(a) 
Off-site parking shall be within 500 feet of the property for which it is being requested.
(b) 
Off-site parking spaces provided by a separate private property owner shall be subject to a legally binding agreement that will be presented to the Johnston Planning Board as a condition of approval.
(4) 
Service access. When required, loading and other service areas such as trash dumpsters shall be placed to the rear or side of buildings in visually unobtrusive locations. Screening and landscaping shall prevent direct views of the loading areas from adjacent properties or from public rights-of-way. Loading areas shall be allowed in travel lanes or parking areas so as long as the loading/unloading occurs during nonbusiness hours.
(5) 
Fire lanes. The ROD must include fire lanes, which shall be approved by the Johnston Fire Marshal.
K. 
Outdoor lighting. Streets, parking areas, pedestrian areas, and other actively used areas within the ROD shall be provided with adequate lighting while minimizing adverse impacts, such as glare and overhead sky glow, on adjacent properties and public rights-of-way.
(1) 
Parking lot lighting shall be provided to meet the minimum standards developed by the Illumination Engineering Society.
(2) 
Exterior lighting shall be directed downward in order to reduce glare onto adjacent properties. Use of minimum-wattage metal halide, color-corrected sodium light sources, or superior technology is encouraged. Non-color-corrected low-pressure sodium and mercury vapor lights are prohibited, except in light industrial areas where access by the public is restricted.
L. 
Landscaping and screening standards. Overall composition and location of landscaping shall complement the scale of the development and its surroundings. In general, larger, well-placed contiguous planting areas shall be preferred to smaller, disconnected areas.
(1) 
General screening. Where screening is required by this section, it shall be at least three feet in height, unless otherwise specified. Required screening shall be at least fifty-percent opaque throughout the year. Required screening shall be satisfied by one or some combination of:
(a) 
Decorative fence not less than fifty-percent opaque behind a continuous landscaped area.
(b) 
Masonry wall.
(c) 
Hedge.
(2) 
Parking lot landscaping and screening. All parking and loading areas fronting on collector streets or abutting a residential use shall provide:
(a) 
A landscaped area at least five feet wide along the public street or sidewalk or to abutting residential properties.
(b) 
One tree for each 75 linear feet of parking lot frontage along collector street or residential use.
(3) 
Parking area interior landscaping. The corners of parking lots, "islands," and all other areas not used for parking or vehicular circulation shall be landscaped. Vegetation can include turf grass, native grasses or other perennial flowering plants, vines, shrubs or trees. Such spaces may include architectural features such as benches, kiosks or bicycle parking. In large parking lots containing more than 100 spaces, an interior landscaped area of at least 300 square feet shall be provided for each 50 spaces or fraction thereof, containing one canopy tree. The remainder shall be covered with turf grass, native grasses or other perennial flowering plants, vines or shrubs.
(4) 
Screening from adjacent residential uses. In reviewing any new use proposed to be developed within the ROD adjacent to existing residential uses, the Johnston Planning Board may require additional screening, landscaping or buffering, including, but not limited to, the construction of fences, walls or other architectural barriers the purpose of which is to mitigate any adverse impacts upon adjacent residential property.
(5) 
Refuse areas. All outdoor refuse storage, collection and recycling areas shall be enclosed and solidly screened by wood or fence enclosure, with a minimum height of six feet, and shall extend on three sides of such an area, with a gate or door on the fourth side. The Johnston Planning Board may modify this requirement if such area is not visible from abutting property or streets and, in the opinion of the Board, is not necessary in order to screen or buffer abutting property or streets or to otherwise meet the purposes of the Johnston Comprehensive Community Plan or this Zoning Ordinance.
M. 
Signs. The Johnston Planning Board may require the submission of a comprehensive signage plan for all uses, individual buildings or complex of buildings and uses as part of its review. The signage plan may include conceptual drawings and supporting information describing the proposed signage for all major buildings and uses, including entrance signs, directional signs, etc. The Board may approve, revise or reject such plan as required to achieve consistency with the Comprehensive Community Plan and the purposes of this section. Signs shall comply with the following:
(1) 
Entrance sign. The Johnston Planning Board shall limit the number of entrance signs to roads or driveways which provide access to major complexes of uses and buildings within the ROD, and not to individual uses or buildings. No such entrance sign shall be permitted for individual uses or buildings. Such entrance signs shall be not more than 1,000 square feet in sign display area per side and no more than 40 feet in height.
(2) 
Wall-mounted signs (per building side). For retail, commercial, institutional, office and light industrial uses in the ROD there may be one or more wall-mounted sign(s) for each building side, the total of which does not exceed one square foot for each lineal foot of the building frontage on which the sign is located, not to exceed 300 square feet.
(3) 
Freestanding signs. In addition to permitted wall-mounted signs, there shall also be allowed one freestanding sign for each building not to exceed 50 square feet per side. Such freestanding signs shall not exceed 30 feet in height above the ground. No such freestanding sign shall be erected in such a manner as to materially impede vision or obstruct access to or from any public or private street, sidewalk, driveway, off-street parking or loading facility or any other access required by this section.
(4) 
Sign allowance variations. In consideration of the comprehensive sign plan for a building or buildings, the Planning Board may increase the size of the wall-mounted signs by reallocating, in whole or in part, the allowable square footage of the freestanding sign to the wall-mounted sign. Where such consideration is granted by the Johnston Planning Board, no freestanding sign shall be permitted.
(5) 
Sign revisions. Revisions to signs in an approved comprehensive signage plan shall be reviewed by the Administrative Officer as an amendment to an approved plan, as provided in the Subdivision and Land Development Review Regulations.
(6) 
Sign lighting. Signs within the ROD may be illuminated or indirectly illuminated.
N. 
Utilities. All proposed new uses in the ROD shall be serviced by public sewer and water.
O. 
Timing of development. The Master Development Plan documents may contain information on the physical limits of the phases, the schedule and sequence of public improvement installation, improvement guarantees, and the work and completion schedules for approvals and construction of the phases.
[Added 11-9-2009 by Ord. No. 2009-18]
The Johnston Town Council hereby adopts the "Johnston Town Center Redevelopment and Project Plan" dated October 22, 2009, and attached hereto and incorporated herein as "340 Attachment 1"[1] after making the following findings:
A. 
The properties located in Johnston Assessor's Plat 44, lots 83, 84, 85, 86, 88, 294, 295 and 355, compose a substandard, blighted area characterized by dilapidation, deterioration of site improvements, obsolescence, and an inadequacy of utilities;
B. 
Said area is of mixed character which may lead to further deterioration and decline to the point where it may become detrimental to the public health, safety, morals, and welfare of the inhabitants of the Johnston community;
C. 
Conditions of blight tend to foster the spread of these conditions to other areas and may become a significant liability for the Town;
D. 
The project area herein described would not by private enterprise alone, and without governmental subsidy or the exercise of governmental powers, be developed or revitalized in a manner so as to prevent, arrest, or alleviate the spread of blight or decay;
E. 
The plan will afford maximum opportunity to privately financed development or revitalization consistent with the sound needs of the city or Town as a whole;
F. 
The financing of that portion of the project in accordance with the plan is in the public interest;
G. 
The benefits that will result from the remedying of these conditions and redevelopment of these blighted areas, including, but not limited to, expanding the tax base, and generating new businesses and employment opportunities, will accrue to all of the inhabitants and property owners of the Town of Johnston;
H. 
The project will create new jobs, both construction and nonconstruction, and provide wages and benefits and an impact on personal income taxes to the State of Rhode Island as shown in the Tax Increment Financing Bond Projections and Economic Impact Analysis, dated October 16, 2009, and incorporated herein and attached hereto as "340 Attachment 2";[2] and
[2]
Editor's Note: Said analysis is on file in the office of the Town Clerk.
I. 
The Johnston Town Center Redevelopment and Project Plan is feasible, conforms to the Town's Comprehensive Community Plan, and if carried out, would eliminate the blighted area and replace it, through redevelopment, with a well-planned, integrated, stable neighborhood conducive to the public health, safety, morals, and welfare of the community.
[1]
Editor's Note: Said plan is on file in the office of the Town Clerk.