A N A C T
ESTABLISHING A JOHNSTON LAND TRUST
It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:
SECTION 1. The town of Johnston (hereafter called the town) is hereby authorized to establish and amend by ordinance the Johnston 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.
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 nine (9) trustees to be appointed by the town council with one trustee to be from each ward in the town. The trustees who are first appointed by the council shall be designated to serve for terms of one (1) one year, two (2) two years, one (3) three year, one (1) four year and two (2) five year. Thereafter, trustee shall be appointed as aforesaid for a term of office for five (5) years, except that all vacancies occurring during a term shall be filled for the unexpired term. The town council shall appoint persons to serve on the land trust, who are resident electors, on non-partisan basis. Said members shall serve without compensation. The planning director or his or her designee and the parks and recreation director or his or her designee shall serve as ex-officio nonvoting trustees.
SECTION 4. The trustees shall annually elect a chairman, vice chairman 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 Mayor and 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 ordinance. 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, except 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. The trustees shall prepare an operating budget to be sent to the Mayor to be incorporated into the annual town budget for review and consideration as provided in the town charter. The operating budget shall include administrative expenses such as appraisals and environmental assessments as well as capital expenditures such as land purchasers. 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 expended for land acquisition referred to in section 1 of this ordinance, can only be after approval by resolution of the town council and the approval of the Mayor.
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 ordinance, 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;
(d) Employ counsel, auditors, engineers, surveyors, appraisers, private consultants, advisors, secretaries or other personnel needed to perform its duties provided, however, that expenditures authorized in the land trust budget which are less than two thousand and five hundred dollars ($2,500) may be made in conformity with municipal and state purchasing laws with the advice and consent of the planning director.
(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 ordinance. 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. 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 shall be authorized by the town council through the town's bonding or through appropriation to the land trust from the annual town budget 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, or proceeds from disposal of real property or interests shall also be available for the purpose of financing the activities of the trust. 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 municipal and state purchasing laws. The treasurer of the town shall prudently invest available assets of the funds, and all income thereon shall accrue to the fund.
Private non-profit land trusts in the town, which were in existence at the time that this ordinance was enacted, shall also be eligible to receive town funds, whether by appropriation or from town bonds.
Dissolution of the Trust shall require a public hearing by the Town Council. At the conclusion of the Public Hearing the Town Council shall vote on the matter. Dissolution shall be by enactment of an Ordinance, shall require the two-thirds vote of the Town Council in the affirmative for passage and shall be subject to the veto provisions of the Town Charter.
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.
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. The provisions of this enabling 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 10. This act shall take effect upon passage.