2001-H 6484A
Enacted 07/13/2001

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Introduced By:  Representatives Ginaitt, Naughton and Kennedy Date Introduced:   June 5, 2001

It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:

SECTION 1. Section 44-27-2 of the General Laws in Chapter 44-27 entitled "Taxation of Farm, Forest, and Open Space Land" is hereby amended to read as follows:

44-27-2. Definitions. -- When used in this chapter:

(1) The term "farmland" means:

(i) Any tract or tracts of land, including woodland and wasteland constituting a farm unit;

(ii) Land which is actively devoted to agricultural or horticultural use including, but not limited to: forages and sod crops; grains and feed crops; fruits and vegetables; poultry, dairy, and other livestock and their products; nursery, floral, and greenhouse products; other food or fibre products useful to people;

(iii) When meeting the requirements and qualifications for payments pursuant to a soil conservation program under an agreement with the federal government, the director of environmental management is authorized to promulgate and adopt rules and regulations defining particular categories and minimum acreages of land eligible for designation as farmland under this chapter.

(2) The term "forest land" means any tract or contiguous tracts of land, ten (10) acres or larger bearing a dense growth of trees, including any underbrush, and having either the quality of self perpetuation, or being dependent upon its development by the planting and replanting of trees in stands of closely growing timber, actively managed under a forest management stewardship plan approved by the director of environmental management.

(3) The term "open space land" means any tract or contiguous tracts of undeveloped land, where said undeveloped land serves to enhance agricultural values, or land in its natural state that conserves forests, enhances wildlife habitat or protects ecosystem health, and that are: including farmland and forest land that are:

(i) Ten (10) total acres or larger and, exclusive of house site, where "house site" means the zoned lot size or one acre, whichever is smaller, and land surrounding dwellings or devoted to developed facilities, such as tennis courts, pool, etc., related to the use of the residence; or

(A) Are prime or unique agricultural land as defined by the soil conservation service, United States department of agriculture and which does not fall within the definition of subdivision (a); or

(B) Have more than one percent (1%) of the surface area made up of exposed bedrock or soils too thin over bedrock for use; or

(C) Have soils which inhibit the natural vertical movement of water or that have a seasonal high water table less than four feet (4') below the surface in areas without sewer service; or

(D) Are an important habitat for wild life, including, but not limited to, habitat for rare or endangered species; or

(E) Land that enhances the value to the public of abutting or nearby parks, recreation areas, forest wildlife preservation, nature reserves, sanctuaries, or historic places;

(ii) Tracts of land of any size that are designated as open space land in the comprehensive community plan; or

(A) That have an average slope exceeding eight percent (8%) and which is subject to erosion or mass movement and not part of an existing or planned development; or

(B) That have a one percent (1%) or greater chance of flooding in any given year; or

(C) That meet the criteria of fresh water wetlands as defined in chapter 1 of title 2; or

(D) That meet the criteria of salt marshes and coastal wetlands as defined in chapter 46.1 of title 11 and chapter 1 of title 2; or

(E) That are necessary as buffer strips to protect surface water bodies from erosion or pollution from runoff or leachate; or

(F) That are ground water aquifer recharge areas as described on the ground water maps of the U.S. geological survey and the Rhode Island water resources board, providing that these areas have been designated on the basis of hydrogeological data; or

(G) That have unstable geologic features; or

(H) That are barrier beaches, dunes, cliffs, ledges, or bluffs, subject to rapid deterioration through the action of wind or wave; or

(I) That are designated as open space land on the comprehensive community plan; or

(J) That other significant or unique natural areas such as rare or valuable ecosystems, biological features or geological features, or areas designated or regulated as such by the state, federal, or local government or nonprofit organizations of recognized competence.

(iii) Tracts of land of any size that have conservation restrictions or easements in full force and applied for as open space, which shall be taxed on an equitable basis.

SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon passage.

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