[Added 10-11-2011 by Ord. No. 2011-3]
The purposes of this article are to:
Conserve open land by setting aside from development those areas containing unique and sensitive natural features, including woodlands, steep slopes, streams, floodplains, wetlands, reservoirs and their drainage areas, and agricultural lands.
Preserve historical, agricultural and archaeological resources.
Provide greater design flexibility and efficiency in the siting of services and infrastructure, including the opportunity to reduce street length, utility runs and paving areas required for residential development.
Provide diverse lot sizes and layouts.
Provide housing choices for various age and income groups and residential preferences to maintain population diversity in the community.
Implement municipal policies to conserve various irreplaceable and environmentally important resources as set forth in the Comprehensive Plan.
Provide reasonable incentives to create greenways within the Town as set forth in the Comprehensive Plan.
Implement land use, housing, environmental and open space policies as set forth in the Comprehensive Plan.
Protect areas with productive agricultural soils for continued or future agricultural use by conserving blocks of land large enough to allow for efficient farm operations.
Create neighborhoods with direct visual and/or physical access to open land, amenities in the form of neighborhood open space, and strong neighborhood identities.
Provide for the maintenance of open land set aside for active or passive recreational use, stormwater drainage and/or conservation.
Conserve and create scenic views and preserve the semirural, small-town character of the Town.
Provide buffers between new developments and existing neighborhoods, delicate natural features and habitats.
Encourage low-impact development (LID) techniques to control and reduce stormwater impacts.
The Planning Board may allow a proposed land development project or subdivision to be developed in the form of a conservation development only in R-40, R-20 and R-15 Zoning Districts.
The option of developing land in the form of a conservation development shall be that of the applicant. The Planning Board may not require any subdivision or land development project to be developed as a conservation development without the written consent of the applicant.
No dimensional or use variances may be granted for conservation developments. If dimensional variances are required, the project may not proceed as a conservation development and must be developed as a conventional subdivision.
Authority to disallow conservation development.
If an applicant requests approval of a conservation development, the Planning Board shall have the authority to disallow a conservation development and require a conventional form of development. In such an instance, the Board shall require the applicant to submit alternative plan(s) of a conventional development for the property proposed for development as a comparison, following the requirements and procedures for conventional developments provided in the Land Development and Subdivision Regulations. If the Board finds that the conventional subdivision alternative better meets the general purposes of the Subdivision Regulations and is not consistent with the purposes of conservation developments as set forth in § 340-140 herein, the Board may require the application to be reviewed as a conventional development.
Editor's Note: The most current regulations are on file in the Town offices.
For major subdivisions or land development projects, the Board may make this determination at the preapplication meeting, but no later than the Master Plan stage of review. For minor subdivisions or land development projects, the Board shall make this determination at the initial concept review meeting.
Administrative subdivisions and subdivisions that create lots which are not intended for future development (e.g., open space lots) shall not be required to be developed as a conservation development.
In R-15 Zoning Districts, all conservation developments shall be provided with public water and public sewer services. Privately owned individual or community wells, sewage treatment systems, or on-site wastewater treatment systems (OWTS) shall not be allowed for individual lots in a conservation development in these zoning districts.
In R-20 zoning districts, all conservation developments shall be provided with either public water or public sewer service, or both.
Permitted residential uses in a conservation development are as follows:
Two-family duplex dwelling in R-15 Zoning Districts only;
Accessory family dwelling units are permitted in a conservation development by special use permit only. These units do not count toward the maximum number of dwellings allowed in a conservation development; and
Open space uses. The open space in a conservation development shall be devoted only to conservation purposes, for park and recreation uses, or for the preservation and management of agricultural, habitat or forestry resources. The following provisions shall apply:
Any use listed in the Table of Use Regulations in Subsection 1, Agricultural uses. Uses marked with a "P" are permitted by right; uses marked with an "S" are permitted by special use permit; uses marked with an "N" are prohibited in a conservation development.
Editor's Note: Said table is included at the end of this chapter.
In all conservation developments, the uses listed below shall be permitted by right within the open space areas:
In all zoning districts where conservation developments are permitted, stormwater drainage areas may also be allowed in open space areas subject to the approval of the Planning Board in accordance with the applicable provisions of the Subdivision Regulations and the Rhode Island Stormwater Design and Installation Manual.
Buildings, structures, parking areas, or other impervious improvements which are accessory to and subordinate to a permitted open space use may be located on any open space lot, provided that, in all cases, they occupy no more than 2,000 square feet or 2% of the total open space area of the conservation development, according to whichever is less.
The maximum number of dwelling units permitted in a conservation development shall not exceed the number of single-family lots (or dwellings) which reasonably could be expected to be developed on the conservation development site under a conventional yield plan as defined in § 340-4 herein, and as further described in Section III.J.8 (Basic Maximum Number of Dwelling Units) of the Subdivision Regulations. All provisions of these Subdivision Regulations, Section III, Article A.2, regarding lands with slopes and lands with wetlands shall apply.
Editor's Note: The most current Subdivision Regulations are on file in the Town offices.
Land unsuitable for development means land which has environmental constraints or physical constraints to development. The following regulations shall apply to proposed future residential lots and open space in a conservation development only. Land unsuitable for development includes the following areas:
Land under water bodies or surface water area, as defined by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management;
Freshwater wetlands, including that area of perimeter wetland within 50 feet of the edge of any bog, marsh, swamp, or pond (also referred to as the wetland buffer), but excluding any applicable one-hundred-foot or two-hundred-foot riverbank wetlands, as defined by § 2-1-20 of the General Laws of Rhode Island (1987), as amended;
Existing or proposed streets or rights-of-way, public or private;
Land within any publicly or privately held easement in which aboveground electric transmission lines greater than 69 KV, gas lines, or Town drainage easements are existing or proposed;
Areas of steep slope in excess of 8%;
Lands located within an area of special flood hazard as defined by the most current Flood Insurance Rate Maps and Flood Hazard Boundary Maps prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the Town, except where the Planning Board determines that an engineering design for the proposed development will overcome or mitigate the constraint without adverse environmental impact.
Land unsuitable for development defined in Subsection A(1) to (6) above may be included as part of any lot in a conservation development but may not be included in the calculation of minimum lot area as provided in Table 1—Lot Dimensional Requirements in a Conservation Development incorporated herein. In addition, land unsuitable for development may be included as part of any open space area, but may not be included in the calculation of minimum required open space as provided in Table 2 below.
The dimensional regulations provided in Table 1 shall apply to each lot in a conservation development. No variance shall be granted for dimensions to a conservation development. If variances are required, the project shall be completed as a conventional subdivision.
Every conservation development shall provide protected open space in accordance with the following requirements and standards:
The open space shall be established as a lot or lots separate and distinct from the lots intended for residential and accessory uses and from land dedicated as street rights-of-way.
The minimum amount of required open space area shall be based on a percentage of the land suitable for development in the entire conservation development as provided in Table 2 below. None of the minimum required open space area shall be devoted to land unsuitable for development as defined in § 340-149.
Ownership of open space.
Ownership of open space provided by a conservation development for public or common use shall be subject to approval by the Planning Board and Legal Department review and approval and either:
Be conveyed to and accepted by a corporation or trust owned or to be owned by the owners of lots or units within the development or owners of shares within a cooperative development. If such a corporation or trust is used, ownership shall pass with conveyances of the lots or units;
Remain in private (noncommon) ownership if the use is limited to agriculture, habitat or forestry. In accordance with the Comprehensive Plan and this chapter, it is determined that private ownership may be necessary for the preservation and management of the agriculture, habitat or forest resources. In such cases, the Planning Board, as part of its review of a conservation development, shall make positive findings as part of the record, setting forth the basis for such ownership;
Be conveyed to and accepted by a nonprofit organization, the principal purpose of which is the conservation of open space or resource protection; or
Be conveyed to and accepted by the Town for park, open space, agricultural, or other permitted use or uses; Town Council approval shall be required for any conveyance to the Town, upon recommendation of the Planning Board.
The open space land in a conservation development may be owned by the Town of Johnston Municipal Land Trust or the Providence Water Supply Board (PWSB), upon approval of the Planning Board. Town Council approval shall be required for any conveyance to the Municipal Land Trust.
The Planning Board may limit or restrict the amount of open space that may remain in private ownership where necessary to contribute to a connecting greenway system or to provide public access to open space, as provided in the Comprehensive Plan.
In any case where the land is not conveyed to the Town, a conservation restriction, in perpetuity, enforceable by the Town and by any owner of property in the land development project in which the land is located, shall be recorded, providing that the land be kept in the authorized condition(s) and not be built upon or developed.
All open space land provided by a conservation development or other land development project shall be subject to a management plan approved by the Planning Board that specifies the permitted uses for the open space.
The perpetual maintenance of all open space shall be guaranteed by appropriate deed restrictions and by the grant of a conservation or preservation restriction to the Town pursuant to Title 34, Chapter 39, of the Rhode Island General Laws, as amended. The Planning Board or Administrative Officer shall approve the form and content of all deed restrictions at the time of final approval of the subdivision. Every deed restriction providing a maintenance guarantee shall contain the following provision:
In addition to the conservation restriction granted to the Town in Subsection G above, the development rights and other conservation easements on the open space land shall be held in perpetuity by at least one entity other than the Town, which entity shall be a nonprofit organization, the principal purpose of which is the conservation of open space or resource protection.
The ownership of open space land and the granting of all conservation and preservation restrictions on such land shall be approved by the Planning Board. Prior to their decision, the Planning Board shall request an advisory opinion from the Town Solicitor and the Technical Review Committee, if constituted.
Open space land shall be prohibited from further subdivision or redevelopment/reuse. If Town-owned, land shall not be developed for a municipal purpose other than open space and/or passive recreation (excluding any and all forms of hunting).