The Town Council recently approves several minor amendments to the Town's zoning code and comprehensive plan so the use of properties across the community in both documents are fully consistent, capping a multi-year effort.
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MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (APRIL 19, 2022) – For years, there was conflict between parts of the Town’s zoning ordinances and comprehensive plan.
Although both documents are critical to the smooth functioning of the Town, there were places where the zoning specified one use for a property and the comprehensive plan suggested something else entirely.
Not anymore. Recently, the Town Council approved a number of changes to both documents to make sure they jived with each other and there were no discrepancies, capping a multi-year effort led by the Town’s Planning Department and volunteer Planning Board to clean up both documents.
“Ron, does that make us 100 percent in line between (the) comprehensive (plan) and zoning?” Councilman Dennis Turano asked after the item was broached at a recent meeting.
“I’ll never say ‘100 percent’ because someone’s going to find something, but to the best of our knowledge, this will be the end of making those changes to make them consistent,” Town Planner Ronald M. Wolanski responded.
“It was challenging for us here because when (developers) came to build something, they’d say ‘You need to approve it because this is what the comprehensive plan says,’ but then someone would point on the other side and say ‘Well, zoning says the opposite,’ so we’d be caught in the middle and what do we do here?” Turano said. “Thank you for pulling this all together.”
All told, the council changed the designation of close to 400 properties across the community, typically with little or no comment. That was done after multiple public hearings spread out over the course of several years and direct notification to impacted property owners and abutters. Among the local roads where changes took place included Turner Road, Brown’s Lane, East Main Road, Meadow Lane, Green End Avenue and a number of others.
Town officials said Middletown opted to handle the changes over time rather than one intense meeting where 390 properties would need to be addressed. Instead, town officials said they decided to focus on particular areas of the community over time so everyone was aware of exactly what was happening and there was no confusion.
Town officials said when there was a conflict, the Planning Board determined the best future use of the site based on the current use or preferred future of the property.
“Aside from consistency being required by state law, eliminating the inconsistencies between the comp plan and zoning designations helps to avoid confusion over exactly what a piece of property can be used for,” Wolanski said.
“The way I look at it and explain it to people…is it’s almost like there’s a typo in there that doesn’t match our zoning map,” Councilwoman Terri Flynn said. “We’re just fixing the typo.”
Document Link: https://www.middletownri.com/DocumentCenter/View/4473/NYCU-conflict