§ 45-24-39. General provisions Nonconforming development.
(a) Any city or town adopting or amending a zoning ordinance under this chapter shall make provision for any use, activity, structure, building, or sign or other improvement, lawfully existing at the time of the adoption or amendment of the zoning ordinance, but which is nonconforming by use or nonconforming by dimension. The zoning ordinance may regulate development which is nonconforming by dimension differently than that which is nonconforming by use.
(b) The zoning ordinance shall permit the continuation of nonconforming development; however, this does not prohibit the regulation of nuisances.
(c) A zoning ordinance may provide that, if a nonconforming use is abandoned, it may not be reestablished. Abandonment of a nonconforming use consists of some overt act, or failure to act, which leads one to believe that the owner of the nonconforming use neither claims nor retains any interest in continuing the nonconforming use unless the owner can demonstrate an intent not to abandon the use. An involuntary interruption of nonconforming use, as by fire and natural catastrophe, does not establish the intent to abandon the nonconforming use; however, if any nonconforming use is halted for a period of one year, the owner of the nonconforming use is presumed to have abandoned the nonconforming use, unless that presumption is rebutted by the presentation of sufficient evidence of intent not to abandon the use.
(P.L. 1991, ch. 307, § 1.)