ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Community Calendar

Tai Chi
10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Charlestown

Bridge Group
1 p.m. - 3 p.m. Charlestown

The Supper Table
4:30 p.m. - 6 p.m. Westerly

GED Prep Classes
5 p.m. - 8 p.m. Westerly

Zumba
5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. Charlestown

Book Discussion Group
6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. Charlestown

Yoga
6:45 p.m. - 7:45 p.m. Charlestown

Stability Ball Fitness Class
7 p.m. - 8 p.m. Westerly

Strength and Stability
9 a.m. - 10 a.m. Charlestown

... View all of today's events


Stay Connected


ADVERTISEMENT


Rewritten ordinances focus on parking areas, landscape


In 2011, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s new stormwater regulations went into effect.

These new regulations came out of a 2007 law that required DEM and the Coastal Resources Management Council to amend the 1993 stormwater manual to require recharge or infiltration of a portion of stormwater into the ground and the use of low-impact development (LID) techniques as the primary method of stormwater control. LID is an approach to managing stormwater that minimizes the hydrological impacts of development. Stormwater is managed in smaller, more effective treatments that are located throughout the development project rather than being managed in a large detention pond. The primary goal of LID is to mimic the predevelopment hydrology by using design techniques that store, infiltrate, evaporate and detain runoff as close as possible to the point where precipitation reaches the ground.

To bring our zoning ordinance and subdivision regulations into compliance with state law and rule changes, the Charlestown Planning Commission selected the Horsley Witten Group to rewrite our ordinances for low-impact development. The revised Parking and Landscaping ordinances are part of that effort. Parking lots can be a major source of stormwater runoff, and landscaping can provide infiltration and detention. The rewriting of these two sections of the ordinance are focused on reduction in the size of parking areas, if possible, and using the natural and designed landscape as part of stormwater control.

The major change in the Parking section is reduction in the required size of parking lots. New flexibility is added to encourage the applicant to ask for further reductions during the planning process and up to half the parking may be provided off site. Allowing much smaller parking lots reduces the cost of development, may allow existing businesses to expand without adding more parking, and will provide more room for things such as wellhead protection or a larger building footprint. Smaller parking lots can mean fewer design constraints for the applicant and less stormwater runoff for the community. Landscaping in this section is focused on trees for shade, traffic flow and stormwater treatment.

The Landscaping section has more new language, as landscaping is a critical LID tool. Here the emphasis is on retaining existing forest where it lies in any required buffer areas or unused areas of the site, using plant species that are drought resistant and likely to thrive in our climate, and using planting methods that ensure the survival of the trees and other plantings. Using LID techniques, the landscape is not just a pretty frame for a development, but a functioning stormwater control method.

Increased flexibility in parking lot and landscape design could be achieved by moving the design aspects of these sections into the Land Development Regulations. The Regulations allow an applicant to propose equal or better solutions without having to request variances. The Planning Commission has provided some built-in flexibility in these zoning ordinance changes, but long term we hope to move parts of these to the regulations.

Detailed explanations of the proposed changes to the zoning ordinance are available from the Charlestown Planning Department, which can be reached during business hours at 401-364-1225.

The Charlestown Town Council will continue a public hearing on changes to the Parking and Landscaping sections of the Zoning Ordinance on Monday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m.

Ruth Platner

Charlestown

The writer is Chair of the Charlestown Planning Commission



Back to Letters
Top Stories of the Week

SMOOTH UNDER PRESSURE …
WESTERLY — Cooper Ferreira didn’t think twice when he saw a customer choking at Amigos Taqueria Y Tequila last week. Ferreira immediately jumped into action … more ...

State is exercising air rights by eminent domain …
WESTERLY — The owners of 12 houses in proximity to Westerly State Airport will have their landscapes altered this summer, whether they like it or … more ...

More stores planned for Westerly plaza …
WESTERLY — The owners of the Westerly Crossing shopping center hope to expand the size of the retail complex by about 20 percent, adding three … more ...

Man charged with trespassing on Swift property …
WAKEFIELD — A Westerly man charged with trespassing on the Watch Hill property of Taylor Swift appeared Friday for his scheduled arraignment before Judge William … more ...

Comolli family sues Westerly over quarry assessment …
WESTERLY — The Comolli family is seeking an unspecified amount of monetary punitive damages from the town, in a recently filed lawsuit, claiming that the … more ...

Comments