Chapter 050

Chapter 050

2003 -- S 0944

enacted 06/25/03


A N  A C T



     Introduced By: Senator Dennis L. Algiere

     Date Introduced: March 20, 2003



It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:


     SECTION 1. Sections 1, 2, 4, 5 and 9 of chapter 165 of the 2002 Public Laws entitled

"An Act Relating to Establishing the Westerly Municipal Land Trust" are hereby amended to read

as follows:

     Section 1. Establishment of Trust.

     Pursuant to the authority contained in Rhode Island general law section 42-17.1-20

provisions of chapter 42-17.1 of the general laws or any subsequent modifications or amendments

thereto or substitutions, there is established a Westerly Municipal Land Trust (hereinafter called

"trust") for the purpose of acquiring, holding, and managing real property and interests therein,

including development rights situated in the town of Westerly, but not limited to the town of

Westerly, subject to the laws of the state in which the real property is located, consisting of open,

residential, agricultural, recreational, historical, and littoral property, including existing and future

well fields and aquifer recharge areas, freshwater marsh and adjoining uplands, wildlife habitats,

and/or buildings providing access to or views of water bodies, or for bicycling and hiking paths,

or for future public recreation, agricultural, environmental, or educational use, or for

opportunistic acquisitions in order to further health, welfare, and safety of the citizens of

Westerly, now and in the future.

     Section 2. Administration.

     The trust shall be administered by seven (7) trustees who shall be appointed by the town

council of the town of Westerly. The trustees who are first appointed shall be designated to serve

for terms of one (1), two (2), three (3), four (4) and five (5) years the following terms: 1st, one (1)

year; 2nd, two (2) years; 3rd, two (2) years; 4th, three (3) years; 5th, four (4) years; 6th, four (4)

years; and 7th, five (5) years respectively, terms to expire on December 31 annually. Thereafter,

trustees shall be appointed as aforesaid for a term of office of five (5) years, except that all

vacancies occurring during a term shall be filled for the expired term. In addition to the seven (7)

trustees appointed by the town council, the current chairperson, or member designee of the

Westerly planning board, the town planner, and the finance director shall serve as ex-officio

members of the trust. Trustees shall be resident electors or taxpayers of the town of Westerly,

shall serve without compensation and shall hold office until their successors have been appointed.

No trustee may be an elected officer or salaried employee of the town.

     Section 4. Rules and Regulations.

     The trustees shall adopt reasonable rules and regulations governing the conduct of trust

affairs, including the acquisition and management of its holdings not inconsistent with the

provisions of this ordinance. All rules and regulations of the trust are subject to the approval of

the town council. A quorum for holding legitimate business meetings is four (4) members, and

decisions shall be by a majority of those members present and voting, excepting in decisions of

the acquisition or disposition of land, easements, rights-of-way, which must be by a majority vote

of all vote of at least four (4) members. The trustees shall file copies of their minutes with the

town clerk. All meetings of the trust shall be open to the public and held in accordance with any

Rhode Island general laws pertaining to open meetings and posting of meetings.

     Section 5. Powers of the Trust.

     The trust shall have the power to:

     (a) Purchase, receive by gift, acquire, hold, lease, encumber, manage, dispose of and

issue bonds, in accordance with section 7, or otherwise acquire fee simple or lesser interests in

real property, including development rights of any kind or any interest in real property situated in

the town of Westerly, but not limited to Westerly;

     (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 donations of real or personal property from donors whose intentions, as

expressed in deed or gift, is not to preserve or protect the property donated, but to enable the trust

to sell the same to raise funds to finance the conservation activities of the trust. The trust may sell

property so donated upon the vote of the trustees in which at least four (4) members vote in favor

of the disposition;

     (d) Accept from state and/or federal agencies, loans or grants or resources for use in

carrying out the trust's purpose and enter into agreements with such agencies, respecting any such

loans and grants within the limits of its available funds;

     (e) Employ counsel, auditors, engineers, appraisers, private consultants, advisors,

secretaries, or other personnel needed to perform its duties within the limits of its available funds;

     (f) Administer and manage land interest in land held by it in a manner which allows,

where possible, public use and enjoyment consistent with the natural and scenic resources thereof

(including conveyance of any such land or interest 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 ordinance and with the terms of any grant or devise by which such land was

acquired by the trust;

     (g) Incur debt only after authorization in each such instance by vote of Westerly town

council and in accordance with the requirement for the issuance of bonds by referendum pursuant

to town charter. The trust shall be obligated to pay debt service on all such debt to the extent

funds are available and to reimburse any town funds expended to pay such debt service.

Whenever the town shall have been required to pay over any sums of money to the trust, the trust

shall be precluded from acquiring any additional property until the trust shall have repaid the

town in full for all sums paid to the trust hereunder and to reimburse the town for any town funds

expended to pay such debt service;

     (h) 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 purposes set forth in this ordinance. Such dispositions shall be made

only by a vote of the trustees in which at least four (4) members vote in favor of such disposition,

and further only after having been approved by a vote of the Westerly town council; provided,

that town council approval shall not be required for the disposition of property donated with the

intention of the donor that the trust would resell the property for fundraising purposes. 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 of devise for public

use, whether or not such gift or devise is subject to condition subsequent or reverted reverter;

     (i) Otherwise do all things necessary for the performance of its duties, the fulfillment of

its obligations and conduct of its business.

     Section 9. Dissolution of the Trust.

     The decision to dissolve the trust shall only result after a vote of the trustees in which

four (4) members vote to recommend dissolution of the trust to the Westerly town council. The

town council shall then 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 on the dissolution and the question shall then be put to public referendum

within ninety (90) days and upon a majority vote of the electors voting, the trust shall be

terminated. Upon termination or dissolution of the trust, the titles of all funds and other properties

owned by the trust, which remain after payment or making provisions for payment, all bonds,

notes and other obligations of the trust shall vest in the town of Westerly, which shall manage the

lands of the dissolved trust in the open space function for which they were purchased or donated.

If, in the opinion of a majority of the town council said lands no longer function in the purposes

set forth in this ordinance, the town may dispose of those properties provided that a two-thirds

(2/3) vote of an annual or special meeting of the town shall affirm said disposal.

     SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon passage.