A N A C T
ESTABLISHING A NORTH PROVIDENCE LAND TRUST
It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:
SECTION 1. The town council of the town of North Providence (hereafter called the town) is hereby authorized to establish the North Providence land trust (hereafter called the trust), a body politic and corporate and a public instrumentality. The trust shall have the authority to acquire, hold, and manage real property and interests therein including development rights and easements situated in the town consisting of open, residential, agricultural, recreational, historical or littoral property, including existing and future well fields and aquifer recharge areas, fresh water marshes, water bodies, and adjoining uplands, wildlife habitats, land or buildings providing access to or views of water bodies, or for bicycling and hiking paths, or for future public recreational use, and land for agricultural use or air space thereof. With the exception of property acquired for public historical preservation, research and/or educational, public access or recreational purposes, the trust shall hold all property or development rights as open space or for agricultural uses or for water protection purposes or for public access or to prevent the accelerated residential or commercial development thereof in perpetuity, as the trustees may determine. However, whereas certain properties may not have continuing value as open space or conservation lands, the trust may dispose of these properties as it sees fit, providing that any restrictions on the property are taken unto account.
SECTION 2. The purpose of the trust shall be to preserve open space, protect wetlands, water bodies, ground and surface water resources, farm lands, historical or cultural place of interest, scenic views, unusual, exceptional or exemplary natural habitats, provide opportunities for research and education on natural resources on land trust held properties and to secure for the town the goals and objectives established in the comprehensive plan.
SECTION 3. The trust shall be administrated by five (5) trustees. Three (3) shall be appointed by the town council (one from each council district) pursuant to chapter 35 of title 18 of the general laws, and two (2) shall be appointed by the Mayor, at least one of which shall be the Director of Planning. The trustees who are first appointed by the council shall be designated to serve for terms of one (1) one year, one (2) two years, one (3) three years, except that all vacancies occurring during a term shall be filled for the unexpired term. The trustees who are first appointed by the Mayor shall be designated to serve the terms of one (4) four years and one (5) five years. There shall also be appointed two alternates. One (1) alternate shall be appointed by the town council and will vote only when a council appointee is absent from a meeting of the trust. One (1) shall be appointed by the Mayor and will vote only in the absence of a Mayoral appointee. Each alternate will be appointed for a term of three (3) years. The Mayor and the Town Council shall appoint resident electors to the land trust on a non-partisan basis. Said members shall serve without compensation and shall hold office until their successors have been named. All trustees shall be subject to the Rhode Island code of ethics, contained in chapter 14 of title 36 of the general laws.
SECTION 4. The trustees shall annually elect a chairman, vice chairman and treasurer from their members and shall appoint a secretary who may either be a member or a non-member. Copies of all meeting minutes shall be submitted to the town council for distribution and shall be filed with the town clerk and become a permanent record of the town. The term of office of the chairperson, vice-chairperson, treasurer and secretary, unless otherwise prescribed by the town council shall be for the calendar year.
SECTION 5. The trustees shall adopt rules and regulations governing the conduct of trust affairs, including the acquisition and management of its holdings, not consistent with the provisions of this act. All rules and regulations of the trust are subject to the approval of the town council. Decisions of the trustees shall be by majority of those present and voting, excepting in decisions of the acquisition of land, easements, rights of way and other uses referred to in section 1 of this trust, which must be by majority vote of all trustees and no business shall be transacted without four (4) trustees present with three (3) voting. The trustees shall prepare an operating budget to be sent to the Mayor to be incorporated into the Mayor's budget for the town council review and consideration. The funds authorized in this budget will be paid by the town treasurer in accordance with the accepted accounting procedures that are in place in the town at that time. All funds that are released for land acquisition referred to in section 1 of this trust, can only be released after approval by the town council. The trustees shall keep accurate records of their meetings and actions and shall file an annual report which shall be submitted to the Mayor and Council and made available for review by the general public. All meetings of the trust shall be open to the public in accordance with the Rhode Island open meetings act, chapter 46 of title 42 of the general laws.
SECTION 6. The trust shall have the responsibility to recommend to the town council to:
(a) Purchase, receive by gift, or otherwise acquire fee simple or lesser interests in real property, including development rights as defined in section 42-82-2 of the general laws, or any interest in real property consistent with purposes of this act, including other development rights on easements of any kind whatsoever;
(b) Accept gifts, grants or loans of funds or resources or services from any source, public or private, and comply, subject to the provisions of this act, with any terms and conditions thereof within the limits of its available funds;
(c) Accept from state and/or federal agencies, loans or grants or resources for use in carrying out the trust's purposes and enter into agreements with such agencies respecting any such loans or grants within the limits of its available funds;
(d) Employ counsel, auditors, engineers, surveyors, appraisers, private consultants, advisors, secretaries or other personnel needed to perform its duties within the limits of its available funds;
(e) Administer and manage land and interests in land held by it in a manner which allows public use and enjoyment consistent with the natural and scenic resources thereof, including conveyance of any such land or interests in land to, and contracts with, nonprofit organizations, provided such land shall continue to be used in a manner consistent with the purposes of this act and with the terms of any grant or devise by which such land was acquired by the trust;
(f) Dispose of all or any portion of its real property or interest therein held by it, whenever in the opinion of the trustees said lands or properties have become unsuitable or have ceased to be used for the purpose set forth in this act. Such disposition shall be made only by a vote of the trustees in which at least four (4) members vote in favor of such a disposition and further only after having been approval of a majority vote of the town council. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to authorize the sale, lease or conveyance of lands or improvements held by the trust as part of a charitable trust or acquired by gift or devise for the public use, whether or not such gift or devise is subject to a condition subsequent or reverter;
(g) Otherwise do all things necessary for the performance of its duties, the fulfillment of its obligation and the conduct of its business.
SECTION 7. All funds collected by virtue of the town's bonding authority for the purpose of financing the activities of the trust under this act shall be deposited in a reserve fund by the town treasurer. Additional moneys or other liquid assets received as voluntary contributions, grants or loans, funds appropriated to the trust by vote of the town council with concurrence of the mayor or other special appropriation process pursuant to the town charter, or proceeds from disposal of real property or interests shall be deposited into said account. All operating expenses lawfully incurred by the trust in carrying out the provisions of this act shall be evidenced by the proper vouchers and shall be paid by the treasurer of the town only upon submission of invoices approved by the trust and in accordance with normal town procedure. The treasurer of the town shall prudently invest available assets of the funds, and all income thereon shall accrue to the fund.
The decision to dissolve the trust shall only result after a vote of the trustees in which at least four (4) members vote to recommend dissolution of the trust to the town council. The town council shall than hold a public hearing on the recommendation to dissolve. At the conclusion of the public hearing the town council shall vote on the matter within forty five (45) days of said hearing. Dissolution shall require four (4) affirmative votes of the town council.
Upon termination or dissolution of the trust, the title of all funds and other properties owned by the trust which remain after payment or making provision for payment of all bonds, notes and other obligations of the trust shall vest in the town which shall manage the lands of the dissolved trust in the same manner for which such lands were donated or purchased in the best interest of the purposes of the dissolved trust. If in the opinion of the town council said land of the dissolved trust no longer meet the purposes set forth in this act, the town may dispose of said lands upon a two thirds (2/3) affirmative vote of the town council.
SECTION 8. The trust and all its revenues, income and real and personal property used by the trust for furtherance of its public purposes, shall be exempt from taxation and special assessments, and the trust shall not be required to pay any tax, excise or assessment to the state or any of its political subdivisions.
SECTION 9. Nothing in this act shall effect the eligibility of the town to receive funds under chapter 4 of title 32 of the general laws or any other applicable state land acquisition program.
SECTION 10. Severablility. The provisions of this act and any ordinance thereunder are severable, and if any provision thereof shall be held invalid in any circumstances such invalidity shall not affect any other provisions or circumstances. This act and any ordinance thereunder shall be construed in all respects so as to meet all constitutional requirements. In carrying out the purposes and provisions of this act and any ordinance thereunder, all steps shall be taken which are necessary to meet constitutional requirements whether or not such steps are required by statute.
SECTION 11. This act shall take effect upon passage.