Towns and Cities

Subdivision of Land

SECTION 45-23-32

§ 45-23-32. Definitions.

Where words or phrases used in this chapter are defined in the definitions section of either the Rhode Island Comprehensive Planning and Land Use Regulation Act, § 45-22.2-4, or the Rhode Island Zoning Enabling Act of 1991, § 45-24-31, they have the meanings stated in those acts. Additional words and phrases may be defined in local ordinances, regulations and rules under this act. The words and phrases defined in this section, however, shall be controlling in all local ordinances, regulations, and rules created under this chapter. See also § 45-23-34. In addition, the following words and phrases have the following meanings:

(1) Administrative officer. The municipal official designated by the local regulations to administer the land development and subdivision regulations and to coordinate with local boards and commissions, municipal staff and state agencies. The administrative officer may be a member of, or the chair, of the planning board, or an appointed official of the municipality. See § 45-23-55.

(2) Administrative subdivision. Re-subdivision of existing lots which yields no additional lots for development, and involves no creation or extension of streets. The re-subdivision only involves divisions, mergers, mergers and division, or adjustments of boundaries of existing lots.

(3) Board of appeal. The local review authority for appeals of actions of the administrative officer and the planning board on matters of land development or subdivision, which shall be the local zoning board of review constituted as the board of appeal. See § 45-23-57.

(4) Bond. See improvement guarantee.

(5) Buildable lot. A lot where construction for the use(s) permitted on the site under the local zoning ordinance is considered practicable by the planning board, considering the physical constraints to development of the site as well as the requirements of the pertinent federal, state and local regulations. See § 45-23-60(4).

(6) Certificate of completeness. A notice issued by the administrative officer informing an applicant that the application is complete and meets the requirements of the municipality's regulations, and that the applicant may proceed with the approval process.

(7) Concept plan. A drawing with accompanying information showing the basic elements of a proposed land development plan or subdivision as used for pre-application meetings and early discussions, and classification of the project within the approval process.

(8) Consistency with the comprehensive plan. A requirement of all local land use regulations which means that all these regulations and subsequent actions are in accordance with the public policies arrived at through detailed study and analysis and adopted by the municipality as the comprehensive community plan as specified in § 45-22.2-3.

(9) Dedication, fee-in-lieu-of. Payments of cash which are authorized in the local regulations when requirements for mandatory dedication of land are not met because of physical conditions of the site or other reasons. The conditions under which the payments will be allowed and all formulas for calculating the amount shall be specified in advance in the local regulations. See § 45-23-47.

(10) Development regulation. Zoning, subdivision, land development plan, development plan review, historic district, official map, flood plain regulation, soil erosion control or any other governmental regulation of the use and development of land.

(11) Division of land. A subdivision.

(12) Environmental constraints. Natural features, resources, or land characteristics that are sensitive to change and may require conservation measures or the application of special development techniques to prevent degradation of the site, or may require limited development, or in certain instances, may preclude development. See also physical constraints to development.

(13) Final plan. The final stage of land development and subdivision review. See § 45-23-43.

(14) Final plat. The final drawing(s) of all or a portion of a subdivision to be recorded after approval by the planning board and any accompanying material as described in the community's regulations and/or required by the planning board.

(15) Floor area, gross. See R.I. State Building Code.

(16) Governing body. The body of the local government, generally the city or town council, having the power to adopt ordinances, accept public dedications, release public improvement guarantees, and collect fees.

(17) Improvement. Any natural or built item which becomes part of, is placed upon, or is affixed to, real estate.

(18) Improvement guarantee. A security instrument accepted by a municipality to ensure that all improvements, facilities, or work required by the land development and subdivision regulations, or required by the municipality as a condition of approval, will be completed in compliance with the approved plans and specifications of a development. See § 45-23-46.

(19) Local regulations. The land development and subdivision review regulations adopted under the provisions of this act. For purposes of clarification, throughout this act, where reference is made to local regulations, it is be understood as the land development and subdivision review regulations and all related ordinances and rules properly adopted pursuant to this chapter.

(20) Maintenance guarantee. Any security instrument which may be required and accepted by a municipality to ensure that necessary improvements will function as required for a specific period of time. See improvement guarantee.

(21) Major land development plan. Any land development plan not classified as a minor land development plan.

(22) Major subdivision. Any subdivision not classified as either an administrative subdivision or a minor subdivision.

(23) Master plan. An overall plan for a proposed project site outlining general, rather than detailed, development intentions. It describes the basic parameters of a major development proposal, rather than giving full engineering details. Required in major land development or major subdivision review. See § 45-23-40.

(24) Minor land development plan. A development plan for a residential project as defined in local regulations, provided that the development does not require waivers or modifications as specified in this act. All nonresidential land development projects are considered major land development plans.

(25) Minor subdivision. A plan for a subdivision of land consisting of five (5) or fewer units or lots, provided that the subdivision does not require waivers or modifications as specified in this chapter.

(26) Modification of requirements. See § 45-23-62.

(27) Parcel. A lot, or contiguous group of lots in single ownership or under single control, and usually considered a unit for purposes of development. Also referred to as a tract.

(28) Parking area or lot. All that portion of a development that is used by vehicles, the total area used for vehicular access, circulation, parking, loading and unloading.

(29) Permitting authority. The local agency of government specifically empowered by state enabling law and local ordinance to hear and decide on specific matters pertaining to local land use.

(30) Phased development. Development, usually for large-scale projects, where construction of public and/or private improvements proceeds by sections subsequent to approval of a master plan for the entire site. See § 45-23-48.

(31) Physical constraints to development. Characteristics of a site or area, either natural or man-made, which present significant difficulties to construction of the uses permitted on that site, or would require extraordinary construction methods. See also environmental constraints.

(32) Planning board. The official planning agency of a municipality, whether designated as the plan commission, planning commission, plan board, or as otherwise known.

(33) Plat. A drawing or drawings of a land development or subdivision plan showing the location, boundaries, and lot lines of individual properties, as well as other necessary information as specified in the local regulations.

(34) Pre-application conference. An initial meeting between developers and municipal representatives which affords developers the opportunity to present their proposals informally and to receive comments and directions from the municipal officials and others. See § 45-23-35.

(35) Preliminary plan. The required stage of land development and subdivision review which requires detailed engineered drawings and all required state and federal permits. See § 45-23-41.

(36) Public improvement. Any street or other roadway, sidewalk, pedestrian way, tree, lawn, off-street parking area, drainage feature, or other facility for which the local government or other governmental entity either is presently responsible, or will ultimately assume the responsibility for maintenance and operation upon municipal acceptance.

(37) Public informational meeting. A meeting of the planning board or governing body preceded by a notice, open to the public and at which the public is heard.

(38) Re-subdivision. Any change of an approved or recorded subdivision plat or in a lot recorded in the municipal land evidence records, or that affects the lot lines of any areas reserved for public use, or that affects any map or plan legally recorded prior to the adoption of the local land development and subdivision regulations. For the purposes of this act any action constitutes a subdivision.

(39) Slope of land. The grade, pitch, rise or incline of the topographic landform or surface of the ground.

(40) Storm water detention. A provision for storage of storm water runoff and the controlled release of the runoff during and after a flood or storm.

(41) Storm water retention. A provision for storage of storm water runoff.

(42) Street. A public or private thoroughfare used, or intended to be used, for passage or travel by motor vehicles. Streets are further classified by the functions they perform. See street classification.

(43) Street, access to. An adequate and permanent way of entering a lot. All lots of record shall have access to a public street for all vehicles normally associated with the uses permitted for that lot.

(44) Street, alley. A public or private thoroughfare primarily designed to serve as secondary access to the side or rear of those properties whose principal frontage is on some other street.

(45) Street, cul-de-sac. A local street with only one outlet and having an appropriate vehicular turnaround, either temporary or permanent, at the closed end.

(46) Street, limited access highway. A freeway or expressway providing for through traffic. Owners or occupants of abutting property on lands and other persons have no legal right to access, except at the points and in the manner as may be determined by the public authority having jurisdiction over the highway.

(47) Street, private. A thoroughfare established as a separate tract for the benefit of multiple, adjacent properties and meeting specific, municipal improvement standards. This definition does not apply to driveways.

(48) Street, public. All public property reserved or dedicated for street traffic.

(49) Street, stub. A portion of a street reserved to provide access to future development, which may provide for utility connections.

(50) Street classification. A method of roadway organization which identifies a street hierarchy according to function within a road system, that is, types of vehicles served and anticipated volumes, for the purposes of promoting safety, efficient land use and the design character of neighborhoods and districts. Local classifications use the following as major categories:

(a) Arterial. A major street that serves as an avenue for the circulation of traffic into, out of, or around the municipality and carries high volumes of traffic.

(b) Collector. A street whose principal function is to carry traffic between local streets and arterial streets but that may also provide direct access to abutting properties.

(c) Local. Streets whose primary function is to provide access to abutting properties.

(51) Subdivider. Any person who (1) having an interest in land, causes it, directly or indirectly, to be divided into a subdivision or who (2) directly or indirectly sells, leases, or develops, or offers to sell, lease, or develop, or advertises to sell, lease, or develop, any interest, lot, parcel, site, unit, or plat in a subdivision, or who (3) engages directly or through an agent in the business of selling, leasing, developing, or offering for sale, lease, or development a subdivision or any interest, lot, parcel, site, unit, or plat in a subdivision.

(52) Subdivision. The division or re-division, of a lot, tract or parcel of land into two or more lots, tracts, or parcels. Any adjustment to existing lot lines of a recorded lot by any means is considered a subdivision. All re-subdivision activity is considered a subdivision. The division of property for purposes of financing constitutes a subdivision.

(53) Technical review committee. A committee appointed by the planning board for the purpose of reviewing, commenting, and making recommendations to the planning board with respect to approval of land development and subdivision applications.

(54) Temporary improvement. Improvements built and maintained by a developer during construction of a development project and prior to release of the improvement guarantee, but not intended to be permanent.

(55) Vested rights. The right to initiate or continue the development of an approved project for a specified period of time, under the regulations that were in effect at the time of approval, even if, after the approval, the regulations change prior to the completion of the project.

(56) Waiver of requirements. See § 45-23-62.

History of Section.
(P.L. 1992, ch. 385, § 1; P.L. 1999, ch. 157, § 1; P.L. 2013, ch. 458, § 1; P.L. 2013, ch. 467, § 1.)