Towns and Cities
Historical Area Zoning
R.I. Gen. Laws § 45-24.1-4
§ 45-24.1-4. Permit required to construct, alter, or demolish structure — Application — Written decisions of commission — Powers of commission.
(a) The commission shall, within twelve (12) months of the date the local historic district zoning ordinance takes effect:
(1) Adopt and publish all rules and regulations necessary to carry out its functions under the provisions of this chapter; and
(2) Publish standards as necessary to inform historic district residents, property owners, and the general public of those criteria by which the commission determines whether to issue a certificate of appropriateness. The commission may amend these standards as reasonably necessary, and it shall publish all amendments.
(b) Before a property owner or public utility as defined in subdivision 39-1-2(20) that is installing a gas regulator or gas meter may authorize or commence construction, alteration, repair, removal, or demolition affecting the exterior appearance of a structure or its appurtenances within a historic district or affecting a historic cemetery wherever located within a city or town, the owner or public utility must apply for and receive a certificate of appropriateness from the commission. In applying, the owner or public utility must comply with application procedures established by the commission pursuant to this chapter and the applicable local ordinance. The commission shall require the owner or public utility to submit information which is reasonably necessary to evaluate the proposed construction, alteration, repair, removal, or demolition, including, but not limited to, plans, drawings, photographs, or other information. The owner of the property or the public utility must obtain a certificate of appropriateness for the project whether or not state law requires that he, she or it also obtain a permit from the local building official. The building official shall not issue a permit until the commission has granted a certificate of appropriateness.
(c) In the case of a historic cemetery, the owner must comply with all provisions of law and make suitable and appropriate provisions for the reinterment of any human remains in an established cemetery. Original or existing headstones and markers shall be preserved and installed at the site of the reinterment.
(d) In reviewing plans, the commission shall give consideration to:
(1) The historic and architectural significance of the structure and its appurtenances;
(2) The way in which the structure and its appurtenances contribute to the historical and architectural significance of the district; and
(3) The appropriateness of the general design, arrangement, texture, materials, and siting proposed in the plans.
The commission shall pass only on exterior features of a structure and its appurtenances and shall not consider interior arrangements.
(e) All decisions of the commission shall be in writing. The commission shall articulate and explain the reasons and bases of each decision on a record, and, in the case of a decision not to issue a certificate of appropriateness, the commission shall include in the bases for its conclusion that the proposed activity would be incongruous with those aspects of the structure, appurtenances, or the district which the commission has determined to be historically or architecturally significant. The commission shall send a copy of the decision to the applicant.
(f) In the case of an application for construction, repair, alteration, removal, or demolition affecting the exterior appearance of a structure, or its appurtenances, which the commission deems so valuable to the city, town, state, or nation, that the loss of that structure will be a great loss to the city, town, state, or nation, the commission shall endeavor to work out with the owner an economically feasible plan for the preservation of that structure. Unless the commission is satisfied that the retention of the structure constitutes a hazard to public safety, which hazard cannot be eliminated by economic means available to the owner, including the sale of the structure to any purchaser willing to preserve the structure, or unless the commission votes to issue a certificate of appropriateness for the proposed construction, alteration, repair, removal, or demolition, the commission shall file with the building official or duly delegated authority its rejection of the application. In the absence of a change in the structure arising from casualty, no new application for the same or similar work shall be filed within one year after the rejection.
(g) In the case of any structure deemed to be valuable for the period of architecture it represents and important to the neighborhood within which it exists, the commission may file with the building official, or other duly delegated authority its certificate of appropriateness for an application if any of the circumstances under which a certificate of appropriateness might have been given under subsection (6) are in existence or if:
(1) Preservation of the structure is a deterrent to a major improvement program which will be of substantial benefit to the community;
(2) Preservation of the structure would cause undue or unreasonable financial hardship to the owner, taking into account the financial resources available to the owner, including the sale of the structure to any purchaser willing to preserve the structure; or
(3) The preservation of the structure would not be in the interest of the majority of the community.
(h) When considering an application to demolish or remove a structure of historic or architectural value, the commission shall assist the owner in identifying and evaluating alternatives to demolition, including the sale of the structure and its present site. In addition to any other criteria, the commission also shall consider whether there is a reasonable likelihood that some person or group other than the current owner is willing to purchase, move, and preserve the structure, and whether the owner has made continuing, bona fide, and reasonable efforts to sell the structure to any purchaser willing to move and preserve the structure.
(i) No less than fifteen (15) days after receiving an application to demolish or to remove an historic cemetery, the commission shall forward the application to the commission to study historic cemeteries. The commission shall also immediately forward to the commission to study historic cemeteries its finding of fact, if any, together with its action on the application.
History of Section.
P.L. 1959, ch. 131, § 4; P.L. 1988, ch. 373, § 2; P.L. 1989, ch. 311, § 2; P.L. 2009, ch. 110, § 3; P.L. 2009, ch. 184, § 3.