Town of Johnston, RI
Providence County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
The local official responsible for the administration and enforcement of this chapter is the Zoning Enforcement Officer, who shall have a minimum of five years of zoning ordinance administration and enforcement experience.
The responsibilities of the Zoning Enforcement Officer shall include:
A. 
The issuing of any required permits or certificates;
B. 
Collection of required fees;
C. 
Keeping of records showing the compliance of uses of land;
D. 
Authorizing commencement of uses or development under the provisions of this chapter;
E. 
Inspection of suspected violations;
F. 
Issuance of violation notices with required correction action;
G. 
Collection of fines for violations; and
H. 
Performing such other duties and taking such actions as may be assigned in this chapter.
A. 
Guidance and clarification. In order to provide guidance or clarification, the Zoning Enforcement Officer shall, upon written request, issue a zoning certificate or provide information to the requesting party as to the determination by the official within 15 days of the written request. In the event that no written response is provided within that time, the requesting party shall have the right to appeal to the Zoning Board for the determination.
B. 
Zoning certificate.
(1) 
A zoning certificate shall be required for any of the following:
(a) 
Occupancy and use of a building hereafter erected or enlarged.
(b) 
Change in use of an existing building to a use of different classification.
(c) 
Occupancy and use of vacant land.
(d) 
Change in the use of land to a use of a different classification.
(e) 
Any change in use of a nonconforming use.
(f) 
Erection or installation of a sign.
(2) 
No such occupancy, use or change of use shall take place until a zoning certificate therefor shall have been issued by the Zoning Enforcement Officer.
(3) 
Written application for a zoning certificate for a new building shall be made at the same time as the application for the building permit for such building. Said certificate shall be issued within 15 days after a written request for the same has been made to the Zoning Enforcement Officer after the erection of such building has been completed in conformity with the provisions of this chapter.
(4) 
Pending the issuance of such certificate, a temporary zoning certificate may be issued by the Zoning Enforcement Officer for a period of not more than six months during the completion of the construction of the building or of alterations which are required under the terms of any law or ordinance. Such temporary certificate shall not be construed in any way to alter the respective rights, duties or obligations of the owner or the Town relating to the use of occupancy of the land or building, or any other matter covered in this chapter, and such temporary certificate shall not be issued, except under such restrictions and provisions as will adequately insure the safety of the occupants.
(5) 
Written application for a zoning certificate for the use of vacant land, or for a change in the use of land or of a building, or for a change in a nonconforming use, as herein provided, shall be made to the Zoning Enforcement Officer. Additionally, no permit for erection of any building shall be issued before application has been made for a zoning certificate.
(6) 
If the proposed use is in conformity with the provisions of this chapter, the zoning certificate therefor shall be issued within 15 days after the application for the same has been made. Each zoning certificate shall state that in the opinion of the Zoning Enforcement Officer the use, structure, building or lot either complies with or is legally nonconforming to the provisions of this chapter or is an authorized variance therefrom.
(7) 
A record of all zoning certificates shall be kept on file in the office of the Zoning Enforcement Officer and Tax Assessor, and a copy shall be forwarded, on request, to any person having a proprietary or tenancy interest in the building or land affected.
C. 
Relation to other codes; regulations and ordinances. The issuance of a zoning certificate shall in no way relieve the applicant of the responsibility of obtaining such permits or approvals as may be required under the provisions of other applicable laws, codes, regulations and ordinances relating to, among other things, the use, erection, alteration or modification of a building or structure or to the use or subdivision of land.
D. 
Expiration of a zoning certificate. A zoning certificate shall be valid for the duration of the use which was the subject of the original application and issuance and shall expire upon the termination of that use.
Nothing in this amendment shall prevent the completion of any construction for which a valid building permit has been heretofore issued, except that such construction shall be initiated and completed within the time period provided in § 340-134. Where such a valid building permit exists, no zoning certificate shall be required.
The Johnston Town Clerk shall be the custodian of the Johnston Zoning Ordinance and Zoning Map or maps created thereunder.
A. 
The responsibility for the maintenance and update of the text and Zoning Map comprising this chapter shall be the Town Clerk's, with the assistance of the Town Planner; changes which impact the Zoning Map shall be depicted on the map within 90 days of the authorized change(s); and
B. 
The Planning Board shall be responsible for review of this chapter at reasonable intervals, at a minimum of once every five years; and whenever changes are made to the Johnston Comprehensive Plan, for the identification of any changes necessary and for the forwarding of these changes to the Town Council.
A. 
The Zoning Board of Review of the Town of Johnston is hereby created. The Zoning Board may engage legal, technical, or clerical assistance to aid in the discharge of its duties. The Zoning Board shall establish written rules of procedure, a mailing address to which appeals and correspondence to the Zoning Board shall be sent, and an office where records and decisions shall be filed.
B. 
The Zoning Board 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 shall also include two alternates to be designated as the first and second alternate members. These alternate members shall sit and may actively participate in hearings. The first alternate shall vote if a member of the Zoning Board is unable to serve at a hearing and the second shall vote if two members of the Zoning 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 Zoning Board unless they have attended all hearings concerning that matter.
C. 
Members of the Johnston Zoning Board of Review serving on the effective date of adoption of this chapter shall be exempt from provisions of this section respecting terms of originally appointed members until the expiration of their current terms.
D. 
Upon the expiration of terms of office of the existing members, the Town Council shall appoint one member of the Board to succeed the member whose term has expired and said regular appointee shall thereafter hold office for a term of five years. The alternate members shall be appointed for a term of one year. All members shall serve until their successors are duly appointed and qualified. Members of the Zoning Board shall be legal residents of the Town of Johnston and no member shall be an elected official or a salaried employee of the Town of Johnston. If any vacancy occurs in the membership of the Board, the Town Council shall appoint a new member to fill the vacancy of the remainder of the unexpired term.
E. 
Once each year the Zoning Board shall organize by selecting from its membership a Chairperson, Vice Chairperson, and Secretary.
F. 
Meetings of the Zoning Board shall be held at the call of the Chairperson and at such other times as the Zoning Board may determine. The Chairperson or, in his absence, the Vice Chairperson, may administer oaths and compel the attendance of witnesses and the submission of explanatory data. All hearings of the Zoning Board shall be open to the public.
The Johnston Zoning Board of Review shall:
A. 
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 Enforcement Officer or other administrative officer or agency in the enforcement or interpretation of this chapter, or of any ordinance adopted pursuant hereto;
(2) 
To hear and decide appeals from a party aggrieved by a decision of a historic district commission, pursuant to R.I.G.L. §§ 45-24.1-7.1 and 45-24.1-7.2;
(3) 
To hear and decide appeals where the Zoning Board is appointed as the board of appeals for airport zoning regulations pursuant to R.I.G.L. § 1-3-19;
(4) 
To authorize, upon application, in specific cases of hardship, variances in the application of the terms of this chapter, pursuant to R.I.G.L. § 45-24-41 and § 340-74 of this chapter;
(5) 
To authorize, upon application, in specific cases, special use permits, pursuant to R.I.G.L. § 45-24-42 and § 340-75 of this chapter;
(6) 
To refer matters to the Planning Board, or to other boards or agencies of the Town of Johnston as the Zoning Board may deem appropriate, for findings and recommendations;
(7) 
To provide for issuance of conditional zoning approvals where a proposed application would otherwise be approved except that one or more state or federal agency approvals which are necessary are pending. A conditional zoning approval shall be revoked in the instance where any necessary state or federal agency approvals are not received within a specified time period;
(8) 
To hear and decide other matters, according to the terms of this chapter or other statutes, and upon which the Zoning Board may be authorized to pass under the chapter or other statutes.
B. 
Be required to vote as follows:
(1) 
Five active members shall be necessary to conduct a hearing. As soon as a conflict occurs for a member, that member shall excuse himself or herself, shall not sit as an active member, and take no part in the conduct of the hearing. Only five active members shall be entitled to vote on any issue.
(2) 
The concurring vote of three of the five members of the Zoning Board sitting at a hearing shall be necessary to reverse any order, requirement, decision, or determination of the Zoning Enforcement Officer from whom an appeal was taken.
(3) 
The concurring vote of four of the five members of the Zoning Board sitting at a hearing shall be required to decide in favor of an applicant on any matter within the discretion of the Zoning Board upon which it is required to pass under this chapter, including variances and special use permits.
A. 
The Zoning Board and the Planning Board shall adopt application procedures and application forms for the filing of appeals, requests for variances, special use permits and such other applications as may be specified in this chapter within 60 days of the date of adoption of this chapter.
B. 
Copies of the application procedures and forms shall be filed with the Town Clerk within five days of their adoption by the Zoning Board and the Planning Board.
C. 
Any revisions of applications procedures and forms shall be filed with the Town Clerk within five days of their adoption.
At the request of either the Planning Board or the applicant, a preapplication conference with the Planning Board shall be held to:
A. 
Acquaint the applicant with the Johnston Comprehensive Plan and any specific plans that apply to the parcel, as well as this chapter and other ordinances that affect the proposed development;
B. 
Suggest improvements to the proposed design on the basis of a review of the sketch plan;
C. 
Advise the applicant to consult appropriate authorities on the character and placement of public utility services; and
D. 
Help the applicant to understand the steps to be taken to receive approval.
Fees, in an amount not to exceed actual costs incurred for mailing, legal advertising and professional services, shall be paid by the appellant or applicant for the adequate review and hearing of applications, the issuance of zoning certificates, and for the recording of the decisions thereon. The Zoning Board and the Planning Board shall include a schedule of fees as part of application forms required under § 340-121 above.
[Added 10-19-1995 by Ord. No. 951; amended by Ord. No. 1015; 5-12-2003 by Ord. No. 2003-7; 6-14-2004 by Ord. No. 2004-13]
A. 
Purpose. The purpose of this section is to establish an updated schedule of fees to be paid to the Town of Johnston for submissions and reviews by the Planning Board.
B. 
Fee schedule. The following fee schedule for Planning Board fees is hereby adopted as follows:
[Amended 5-10-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-12]
Description
Fee
Advisory opinion from Planning Board's Administrative Officer
$100
Advisory opinion before Planning Board
$150
Preapplication conference with Administrative Officer
$50/project
Administrative subdivision
Application fee
$80, plus $75/lot1
Review fee
$50/hour (5-hour minimum)2
Concept review stage
Subdivisions
  Application fee
$80, plus $50/lot
  Review fee
$50/hour (five-hour minimum)2
Land development projects
$50 per unit or acre,2 plus $80
  Application fee
$80, plus $50/unit or acre3
  Review fee
$50/hour (five-hour minimum)2
Master plan stage
Subdivisions
  Application fee
$80, plus $75/lot
  Review fee
$50/hour (five-hour minimum)2
Land development projects
  Application fee
$80, plus $75/unit or acre3
  Review fee
$50/hour (five-hour minimum)2
Decision (preparation fee)
$150/decision
Preliminary plan stage
Subdivisions
  Application fee
$80, plus $125/lot
  Review fee
$50/hour (five-hour minimum)2
Land development projects
  Application fee
$80, plus $125/unit or acre3
  Review fee
$50/hour (five-hour minimum)2
Decision (preparation fee)
$150/decision
Informational meeting preparation fees
Subdivisions
$50, plus $2/each required notice to each addressee on notification list
Multifamily and/or residential unit planned development projects
$50, plus $2/each required notice to each addressee on notification list
Land development projects
$50, plus $2/each required notice to each addressee on notification list
Any other project not otherwise listed (requiring an informational meeting)
$50, plus $2/each required notice to each addressee on notification list
Public hearing preparation fees
Subdivisions
$50, plus $5/each required notice to each addressee on notification list
Multifamily and/or residential unit planned development projects
$50, plus $5/each required notice to each addressee on notification list
Land development projects
$50, plus $5/each required notice to each addressee on notification list
Any other project not otherwise listed (requiring a public hearing)
$50, plus $5/each required notice to each addressee on notification list
Final stage
Subdivisions
  Application fee
$80, plus $105/lot
  Review fee
$50/hour (five-hour minimum)2
Land development projects
  Application fee
$80, plus $105/unit or acre3
  Review fee
$50/hour (five-hour minimum)2
Decision (preparation fee)
$150/decision
Review for recording for subdivisions [Note: Town Clerk recording fees are not included.]
$80, plus $75/lot
Review for final filing for land development projects and any other non-subdivision projects not otherwise addressed
$80, plus $75/unit or acre3
Review of buildable lot applications
$300/application
Review of Town Council referred projects
$100/acre3 ($100 minimum)
Review of Zoning Board of Review referred projects
$100/acre3 ($100 minimum)
Review of Comprehensive Plan proposed land use map amendment proposals
$700/acre3 ($700 minimum)
Review of Comprehensive Plan proposed text amendment proposals
$1,000
Review of Town Council Zoning Map amendment petitions
$700/acre3 ($700 minimum)
Review of Town Council zoning text amendment petitions
$1,000
Site plan review
Application for industrial projects
$700/acre3
Application for commercial and business projects
$700/acre3
Application for planned development (PD) projects
$300, plus $50/acre,3 plus $25/unit
Application for nonresidential projects requiring landscaping review (less than one acre)
$250/acre3
Application for nonresidential projects not otherwise addressed
$700/acre3
Application for multifamily development and other residential (non-PD) projects not otherwise addressed
$300, plus $50/acre,3 plus $25/unit
Review fee for all site plan review projects
$50/hour (five-hour minimum)2
Appeal to the Johnston Board of Appeals to a decision of the Planning Board and/or Administrative Officer
$250
Recording fee for all decisions
Actual costs
Mailing costs for required notifications (actual mailing costs plus duplication cost of materials and attachments)
[Note: Applicants will be charged for each meeting where they do not attend the meeting (no-show) or request to be continued after the notice has been published or are repeatedly incomplete with their presentation thereby requiring a continuance.]
For each meeting, $50, plus duplication and preparation costs, plus actual mailing costs
Advertising costs for required notices for public hearings, including newspaper advertisement
Actual costs
Advertising costs for required monthly meeting notices
[Note: Applicants will be charged for each meeting where they do not attend the meeting (no-show) or request to be continued after the notice has been published or are repeatedly incomplete with their presentation thereby requiring a continuance.]
$50/agenda item
NOTES:
1"Number of lots" based on highest number of lots before or after the administrative subdivision.
2Actual hourly review costs at five-hour minimum will be charged and collected at time of application submission; hours spent in excess of five hours will be billed to the applicant at the actual costs ($50/hour minimum); no final decision or recording will be completed until all fees have been paid.
3"Acres" refers to acres to be disturbed (rounded up); fee cost is the greater cost based on the per-unit or per-acre formula cost.
[Added 10-19-1995 by Ord. No. 952; amended 9-8-1997 by Ord. No. 1016; 6-14-2004 by Ord. No. 2004-14; 5-10-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-12]
The following fee schedule for Zoning Board of Review fees is hereby adopted as follows:
Description
Fee
Advisory opinion from Zoning Official/Zoning Enforcement Officer
$100
Variances, excluding sheds and signs
Residential uses and zones
Application fee
$80, plus $250/lot or unit1
Review fee
$50/hour (three-hour minimum)2
Commercial, business, office, industrial, nonresidential uses and zones
Total project site's building GFA less than 5,000 square feet
Application fee of $1,000, plus review fee of $50/hour (three-hour minimum)2
Total project site's building GFA 5,001 to 10,000 square feet
Application fee of $1,500, plus review fee of $50/hour (three-hour minimum)2
Total project site's building GFA 10,001 to 20,000 square feet
Application fee of $2,000, plus review fee of $50/hour (three-hour minimum)2
Total project site's building GFA greater than 20,000 square feet
Application fee of $100/every 1,000 square feet of total project site building GFA (prorated, rounded up to nearest 1,000 square feet of GFA), plus review fee of $50/hour (three-hour minimum)2
Special use permits
Residential uses and zones
Application fee
$80, plus $250/lot or unit1
Review fee
$50/hour (three-hour minimum)2
Commercial, business, office, industrial, nonresidential uses and zones
Total project site's building GFA less than 5,000 square feet
Application fee of $1,000, plus review fee of $50/hour (three-hour minimum)2
Total project site's building GFA 5,000 to 10,000 square feet
Application fee of $1,500, plus review fee of $50/hour (three-hour minimum)2
Total project site's building GFA 10,001 to 20,000 square feet
Application fee of $2,000, plus review fee of $50/hour (three-hour minimum)2
Total project site's building GFA greater than 20,000 square feet
Application fee of $1,000/every 10,000 square feet of total project site/building GFA (prorated, rounded up to nearest 1,000 square feet of GFA), plus review fee of $50/hour (three-hour minimum)2
Variances  — sheds
Application fee
$100/shed
Review fee
$80
Variances — signs
Application fee
First sign in application
$500
Each additional sign in application
$100
Review fee
$80
Appeals
To Johnston Board of Appeals to a decision of the Planning Board and/or Administrative Officer
$250/decision
To Johnston Board of Review to a decision of the Zoning Official/Zoning Enforcement Officer or Building Official
$250/decision
Public hearing preparation fees, all applications
$50, plus $5/each required notice to each addressee on notification list
Review of buildable lot applications
$300/application
Zoning certificates
Single-family residential dwelling unit (no in-law unit)
$250/certificate
Residential property or use, excluding single-family residential dwelling unit (no in-law unit)
$500/certificate, plus $50/hour research cost3 ($50 minimum)
Nonresidential property or use
$1,000/certificate, plus $50/hour research cost3 ($50 minimum)
Recertification of property within two years of issuance of previous zoning certificate/
certification
$50/certificate, plus $50/hour research cost3 ($50 minimum)
Decision (preparation)
$150/decision
Recording fee for all decisions
Actual recording costs
Mailing costs for required notifications (actual mailing costs plus notice preparation cost and duplication cost of materials and attachments)
[Note: Applicants will be charged for each meeting where they do not attend the meeting (no-show) or request to be continued after the notice has been published or are repeatedly incomplete with their presentation thereby requiring a continuance.]
For each meeting, $50, plus duplication and preparation costs, plus actual mailing costs
Advertising costs for required additional notices for public hearings, including newspaper advertisement
Actual costs
Advertising costs for required monthly meeting notices
[Note: Applicants will be charged for each meeting where they do not attend the meeting (no-show) or request to be cancel and continued after the required hearing notice has been published or are repeatedly incomplete with their presentation thereby requiring a continuance.]
$50/agenda item
Notes:
1 “Per unit” measure shall be sued for residential properties involving two or more dwelling units. “Per lot” measure shall be used for residential properties involving one dwelling unit per lot.
2 Actual hourly review costs, $50/hour minimum fee at three-hour minimum, will be charged and collected at time of application submission; hours spent in excess of three hours will be billed to the applicant at the actual costs ($50/hour minimum); no final decision or recording will be completed until all fees have been paid.
3 Actual hourly research costs ($50/hour minimum fee) at one-hour minimum will be charged and collected at time of application submission; hours spent in excess of one hour will be billed to the applicant at the actual costs ($50/hour minimum); no final certificate will be completed until all fees have been paid.
A. 
The penalty for any violation of this chapter, or for a violation of any terms or conditions of any action imposed by the Zoning Board, the Planning Board, the Zoning Enforcement Officer, or of any other agency or officer charged with enforcement of any of its provisions, shall reasonably relate to the seriousness of the offense, and shall not exceed $500 for each violation, and each day of the existence of any violation shall be deemed to be a separate offense. Any fine shall inure to the Town of Johnston.
B. 
The Town of Johnston may also cause suit to be brought in the supreme or superior court, or any municipal court, including a municipal housing court having jurisdiction, in the name of the Town of Johnston, to restrain the violation of, or to compel compliance with, the provisions of this chapter. The Town of Johnston may consolidate an action for injunctive relief and/or fines under this chapter in the superior court of the county in which the subject property is located.
C. 
The remedies provided for herein shall be cumulative and not exclusive, and shall be in addition to any other remedies provided by law.
A. 
Following a public hearing, the Zoning Board shall render a decision within a reasonable period of time. The Zoning Board shall include in its decision all findings of fact and conditions, showing the vote of each member participating thereon, and the absence of a member or his or her failure to vote. Decisions shall be recorded and filed in the office of the Zoning Board within 30 working days from the date when the decision was rendered, and shall be a public record. The Zoning Board 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 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, the Zoning Board shall have the minutes taken either by a competent stenographer or recorded by a sound-recording device.
B. 
Any decision by the Zoning Board, including any special conditions attached thereto, shall be posted in the office of the Town Clerk, mailed to the applicant, to the Zoning Enforcement Officer, and to the Associate Director of the Division of Planning of the Rhode Island Department of Administration. Any decision evidencing the granting of a variance or special use shall also be recorded in the land evidence records of the Town of Johnston.
The supreme court and the superior court, within their respective jurisdictions, or any justice of either of those courts in vacation, shall, upon due proceedings in the name of the Town of Johnston, instituted by its Town Solicitor, have power to issue any extraordinary writ or to proceed according to the course of law or equity, or both:
A. 
To restrain the erection, alteration, or use of any building, structure, sign, or land erected, altered, or used in violation of the provisions of this chapter, and to order its removal or abatement as a nuisance;
B. 
To compel compliance with the provisions of this chapter;
C. 
To order the removal by the property owner of any building, structure, sign, or improvement existing in violation of this chapter and to authorize the Zoning Enforcement Officer of the Town, in the default of the removal by the owner, to remove it at the expense of the owner;
D. 
To order the reimbursement for any work or materials which shall have been done or furnished by or at the cost of the Town of Johnston;
E. 
To order restoration by the owner, where practicable; and/or
F. 
To issue fines and other penalties.