§ 23-18.9-9. Application, approval and fees for licenses.
(a)(1) Any person who desires to construct and/or operate a solid waste management facility or expand an existing facility shall apply to the director for all licenses and/or permits to do so; provided, however, that the application shall state all licenses and/or permits for which application is made. Any person who desires to construct and/or operate a private solid waste disposal facility shall submit to the director simultaneously with the application a certificate of final determination from the municipality in which it is proposed to site the facility that the site conforms with all applicable local land use and control ordinances or on appeal a final judgment of a court that the proposed site for the facility conforms with all applicable land use and control ordinances of the municipality. The applicant shall also submit simultaneously with the application a certificate of approval of the proposed site issued by the state planning council, except for statutorily mandated facilities. The council shall only approve a site after evaluation of alternative sites and assessment of comparative environmental impact at the sites in accordance with law and state planning council rules, and in the absence of these, the council shall promulgate rules for the evaluation and/or assessment, and distribution of location of sites for waste facilities among the regions of this state. The council shall not issue its certificate prior to the publication of public notice and the expiration of the public comment period regarding the proposed site. The director shall review and decide all applications.
(2)(i) Notwithstanding the provisions of § 42-35-14 to the contrary, the director shall immediately review the application and shall give public notice of the intention to issue a draft license or the intention to deny the application.
(ii) The draft license and/or tentative denial, including all supporting documentation, shall be made available for public comment.
(3) Within fifteen (15) days of the date of the public notice to issue the draft license, the director shall hold an informational workshop. The purpose of the informational workshop shall be to discuss the type of facility or activity which is the subject of the draft license; the type and quantity of wastes, which are proposed to be managed, processed and/or disposed; a brief summary for the basis for the draft license; conditions, including references to applicable statutory or regulatory provisions; reasons why any requested variances or alternatives to required standards do or do not appear justified; a description of the procedures for reaching a final decision on the draft license, which shall include the beginning and ending dates for the comment period hereafter, the address where comments will be received, procedures for requesting a hearing and the nature of that hearing, any other procedures by which the public may participate in the final decision; and the name and telephone number of a person to contact for further information.
(4) No earlier than sixty (60) days nor later than seventy-five (75) days following the initial public notice of the issuance of the draft license or tentative denial, a hearing shall be held for public comment. Comments from the applicant and/or any interested persons shall be recorded at the public hearing. Written comments, which shall be considered part of the record, may be submitted for thirty (30) days following the close of the public comment hearing.
(5) Within ninety (90) days of the close of the public comment period, the director shall issue the license or the final denial. The license or the final denial shall be in writing and shall include a response to each substantive public comment. In the event that the director shall fail to issue the license or final denial within the ninety (90) day period, then the applicant may petition the superior court to issue its writ of mandamus ordering the director or some suitable person to immediately issue the license or denial. Any person refusing to obey the writ of mandamus shall be subject to penalties for contempt of court. The writ of mandamus shall be the exclusive remedy for failure of the director to comply under this section.
(6) The applicant and/or any person who provided substantive comment at any time during the public comment period may appeal the decision of the director; provided, however, any person who shall demonstrate good cause for failure to so participate and demonstrate that his or her interests shall be substantially impacted if prohibited from appearance in the appeal, may in the discretion of the hearing officer be permitted to participate in the appeal process.
(7) The appeal shall be limited to those issues raised by the parties; provided, however, that upon good cause shown, the director shall allow additional issues to be raised.
(8) All appeals shall be pursuant to the rules and regulations established by the director and the rules and regulations established by the administrative adjudication division of the department of environmental management; provided, however, that all appeals shall contain precise statements of the issues presented on appeal and the specific part or parts of the decision of the director that are challenged.
(9) All appeals shall be heard before administrative adjudication hearing officers. All hearings shall be evidentiary hearings. All witnesses shall testify under oath and shall be subject to cross-examination.
(10) The hearing officer shall determine and apportion to the applicant the actual costs of the appeal process, exclusive of attorneys' fees. These costs shall not be considered administrative penalties.
(b) The director shall publish a schedule of fees to be paid to file an application for a license. These fees shall be reasonable and shall account for the size and complexity of the proposed project and any other criteria as the director may determine; provided, however, that no application fee shall exceed one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000).
(c) Licenses shall expire three (3) years from the date of issuance unless sooner suspended or revoked. The provisions in this section for issuance of a license shall not apply to the renewal of a license and any facility shall be relicensed if it meets the criteria in effect when the facility was licensed; provided, however, that any renewal application which substantially deviates from the use or purpose of the license shall be subject to the provisions of this chapter and further provided that any facility shall be relicensed if it meets the criteria in effect when the facility was licensed. The director is authorized to promulgate by regulation procedures for license renewals. The director shall publish a schedule of fees to be paid to renew a license. These fees shall be reasonable and shall account for the size and complexity of the project, and costs incurred to monitor the project, and any other criteria that the director may determine; provided, however, that no renewal license fees shall exceed one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000). All licensed solid waste disposal facilities shall be deemed to comply with all local ordinances.
(d) All application fees and license fees shall be directed to the department of environmental management and shall be held in a separate account and appropriated for review of applications, renewals of, and compliance with, licenses.
(e) Notwithstanding the provisions of this section or any other provision of law to the contrary, cities and towns which own and operate landfills shall be exempt from any application fees relative to applications it files to expand its existing landfill.
(P.L. 1974, ch. 176, § 4; G.L. 1956, § 23-46-9; P.L. 1979, ch. 39, § 1; G.L. 1956, § 23-18.9-9; P.L. 1989, ch. 508, § 4; P.L. 1989, ch. 514, § 7; P.L. 1992, ch. 293, § 1; P.L. 1997, ch. 172, § 1; P.L. 2001, ch. 86, § 74.)