An appeal from any decision of an administrative officer (including the Zoning Enforcement Officer) or any agency charged hereunder with the enforcement of any of the provisions of this chapter may be taken to the Zoning Board by an aggrieved party.
An appeal from a decision of the Zoning Board may be taken by an aggrieved party to the superior court for the county in which the Town of Johnston is situated.
An appeal may be taken by an aggrieved party to the Zoning Board from a decision of any other zoning enforcement agency or officer. The appeal shall be taken within 30 days of the date of the recording of the decision by the officer or agency by filing with the officer or agency from whom the appeal is taken, and with the Zoning Board, a notice of appeal specifying the ground thereof. The officer or agency from whom the appeal is taken shall forthwith transmit to the Zoning Board all the papers constituting the record upon which the action appealed from was taken. Notice of the appeal shall also be transmitted to the Planning Board.
An appeal shall stay all proceedings in furtherance of the action appealed from, unless the agency or Zoning Enforcement Officer from whom the appeal is taken certifies to the Zoning Board, after an appeal shall have been duly filed, that by reason of facts stated in the certificate a stay would in the officer's or agency's opinion cause imminent peril to life or property. In that case, proceedings shall not be stayed other than by a restraining order, which may be granted by a court of competent jurisdiction on application thereof and upon notice to the officer or agency from whom the appeal is taken on due cause shown.
The Zoning Board shall fix a reasonable time for the hearing of the appeal within 45 days after the filing of an application for appeal, give public notice thereof, as well as due notice to the parties of interest, and decide the matter within a reasonable time. Upon the hearing, any party may appear in person or by agent or by attorney. The cost of any notice required for the hearing shall be borne by the appellant.
Participation in a zoning hearing or other proceeding by a party shall not be a cause for civil action or liability except for acts not in good faith, intentional misconduct, a knowing violation or law, transactions where there is an improper personal benefit, or malicious, wanton, or willful misconduct.
In exercising its powers the Zoning Board may, in conformity with the provisions of R.I.G.L. § 45-24-27 et seq., reverse or affirm wholly or partly and may modify the order, requirement, decision, or determination appealed from and may make such orders, requirements, decisions, or determinations as ought to be made, and to that end shall have the powers of the officer from whom the appeal was taken. All decisions and records of the Zoning Board respecting appeals shall conform to the provisions of R.I.G.L. § 45-24-61 and § 340-127 of this chapter.
An aggrieved party may appeal a decision of the Johnston Zoning Board to the superior court for the county in which the Town of Johnston is situated by filing a complaint setting forth the reasons of appeal within 20 days after the decision has been recorded and posted in the office of the Johnston Town Clerk. The decision shall be posted in a location visible to the public in the Johnston Town Hall for a period of 20 days following the recording of the decision. The Zoning Board shall file the original documents acted upon by it and constituting the record of the case appealed from, or certified copies thereof, together with such other facts as may be pertinent, with the clerk of the court within 30 days after being served with a copy of the complaint. When the complaint is filed by someone other than the original applicant or appellant, the original applicant or appellant and the members of the Zoning Board shall be made parties to the proceedings. The appeal shall not stay proceedings upon the decision appealed from, but the court may, in its discretion, grant a stay on appropriate terms and make such other orders as it deems necessary for an equitable disposition of the appeal.
If, before the date set for hearing in the superior court, an application is made to the court for leave to present additional evidence before the Zoning Board and it is shown to the satisfaction of the court that the additional evidence is material and that there were good reasons for the failure to present it at the hearing before the Zoning Board, the court may order that the additional evidence be taken before the Zoning Board upon conditions determined by the court. The Zoning Board may modify its findings and decision by reason of the additional evidence and shall file that evidence and any new findings or decisions with the superior court.
The review shall be conducted by the superior court without a jury. The court shall consider the record of the hearing before the Zoning Board and, if it shall appear to the court that additional evidence is necessary for the proper disposition of the matter, it may allow any party to the appeal to present the evidence in open court, which evidence, along with the report, shall constitute the record upon which the determination of the court shall be made.
The court shall not substitute its judgment for that of the Zoning Board as to the weight of the evidence on questions of fact. The court may affirm the decision of the Zoning Board or remand the case for further proceedings, or may reverse or modify the decision if substantial rights of the appellant have been prejudiced because of findings, inferences, conclusions or decisions which are:
In violation of constitutional, statutory, or ordinance provisions;
In excess of the authority granted to the Zoning Board by statute or ordinance;
Made upon unlawful precedents;
Affected by other error of law;
Clearly erroneous in view of the reliable, probative, and substantial evidence of the whole record; or
Arbitrary or capricious or characterized by abuse of discretion or clearly unwarranted exercise of discretion.
Upon the entry of any case or proceeding brought under the provisions of R.I.G.L. § 45-24-27 et seq., including pending appeals and appeals hereafter taken to the court, at the request of either party, the court shall, in accordance with R.I.G.L. § 45-24-70, advance the case, so that the matter shall be afforded precedence on the calendar and shall thereupon be heard and determined with as little delay as possible.
An appeal of an enactment of or an amendment to this chapter may be taken to the superior court for the county in which the Town is situated by filing a complaint, as set forth herein, within 30 days after the enactment or amendment has become effective. The appeal may be taken by an aggrieved party or by any legal resident or landowner of the municipality or by any association of residents or landowners of the municipality. The appeal shall not stay the enforcement of this chapter, as enacted or amended, but the court may, in its discretion, grant a stay on appropriate terms, which may include the filing of a bond, and make such other orders as it deems necessary for an equitable disposition of the appeal.
The complaint shall set forth with specificity the area or areas in which the enactment or amendment does not conform with the Comprehensive Plan and/or the manner in which it constitutes a taking of private property without just compensation.
The review shall be conducted by the court without a jury. The court shall first consider whether the enactment or amendment of the chapter is in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan. If the enactment or amendment is not in conformation with the Comprehensive Plan, then the court shall invalidate the enactment or the amendment, or those parts of the enactment or amendment which are not in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan. The court shall not revise the ordinance to conform with the Comprehensive Plan, but may suggest appropriate language as part of the court decision.
In the case of an aggrieved party, where the court has found that the enactment or amendment of the chapter is in conformance with the Johnston Comprehensive Plan, then the court shall next determine whether the enactment or amendment works as a taking of property from the aggrieved party. If the court determines that there has been a taking, the court shall remand the case to the legislative body of the municipality, with its findings that a taking has occurred, and order the Town to either provide just compensation or rescind the enactment or amendment within 30 days.
The superior court shall retain jurisdiction, in the event that the aggrieved party and the Town do not agree on the amount of compensation, in which case the superior court shall hold further hearings to determine and to award compensation. Furthermore, the superior court shall retain jurisdiction to determine the amount of an award of compensation for any temporary taking, if that taking shall exist.
The court may, in its discretion, upon motion of the parties or on its own motion, award reasonable attorneys' fees to any party to an appeal, as set forth herein, including the Town.