Salt Pond Region Special Area Management Plan (650-RICR-20-00-3)


650-RICR-20-00-3 ACTIVE RULE

3.1 Authority

Pursuant to the federal Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (16 U.S.C. §§ 1451 through 1466) and R.I. Gen. Laws Chapter 46-23 the Coastal Resources Management Council is authorized to develop and implement special area management plans.

3.2 Purpose

A. The purpose of these rules is to establish the Salt Pond Region Special Area Management Plan (SAMP) within the municipalities of Westerly, Charlestown, South Kingstown and Narragansett to provide for the integration and coordination of the protection of natural resources, the promotion of reasonable coastal-dependent economic growth, and the improved protection of life and property.

B. The regulations herein constitute the RICR regulatory component of the Salt Pond Region Special Area Management Plan (SAMP). For additional context and full understanding of this Part, please reference the additional chapters of the federally-approved Salt Pond Region SAMP available on the CRMC web site (www.crmc.ri.gov) for further information, including all other federally-approved RICRMP plans. The additional chapters of the Salt Pond Region SAMP provide the CRMC’s findings and policies that form the basis and purpose of this Part. The other chapters of the Salt Pond Region SAMP should be employed in interpreting R.I. Gen. Laws § 46-23-1, et seq.

3.3 Definitions

A. Definitions for this Part are as follows:

1. “Cumulative effects” means the physical, biological, or chemical outcome of a series of actions or activities on the environment.

2. “Cumulative impacts” means the total effect on the environment of development activities and/or natural events taking place within a geographic area over a particular period of time resulting from land use, water use and development activities or actions taking place anywhere within the salt pond region over any period of time. They are not restricted to on-site impacts, but may include off-site impacts which exist or are going to exist based on current land use planning. Cumulative impacts can result from traditionally unregulated changes in land and water uses.

3. “Experimental coastal erosion control methods” means unconventional methods that are intended to control erosion along coastal beaches or capture sand in shallow water depths parallel to the beach in order to restore beach profiles. These methods are defined as “experimental” because their effectiveness in controlling coastal erosion is highly variable. These methods have not been previously permitted and used in Rhode Island, but may have been used in other states with varying degrees of success. Such experimental coastal erosion control methods are temporary in nature and designed to provide short-term, localized erosion management while more comprehensive, long-term regional solutions are developed. Such long-term strategies will likely include the relocation (also known as retreat) of existing development and public infrastructure to more inland positions. By definition the term “experimental” refers to a product or method that is based on an untested idea or technique and has not yet been fully tested. Thus, inherent in the concept of “experimental” coastal erosion control methods is the understanding that the impact, results, success or failure of the untested methodologies:

a. cannot be readily predicted;

b. require special monitoring and supervision; and

c. may require unilateral, summary termination if a methodology results in detrimental impacts. Experimental coastal erosion control methods do not include revetments, bulkheads, seawalls, groins, breakwaters or jetties.

4. “Lands of critical concern” means lands that are presently undeveloped or developed at densities of one residential unit per 120,000 square feet. These lands may be adjacent to or include one or more of the following:

a. sensitive areas of the salt ponds that are particularly susceptible to eutrophication and bacterial contamination;

b. overlie wellhead protection zones or aquifer recharge areas for existing or potential water supply wells;

c. areas designated as historic/archaeologic sites;

d. open space;

e. areas where there is high erosion and runoff potential;

f. habitat for flora and fauna as identified through the RI Natural Heritage Program, large emergent wetland complexes, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife lands; and

g. fisheries habitat.

5. “Lands developed beyond carrying capacity” means lands that are developed at densities of one residential or commercial unit on parcels of less than 80,000 square feet, and frequently at higher densities of 10,000 square feet or 20,000 square feet. Intense development associated with Lands Developed Beyond Carrying Capacity is the result of poor land use planning and predates the formation of the Council. High nutrient loadings and contaminated runoff waters from dense development have resulted in a high incidence of polluted wells and increased evidence of eutrophic conditions and bacterial contamination in the salt ponds. Most of the OWTS in these areas predate RIDEM regulations pertaining to design and siting standards, and have exceeded their expected life span.

6. “Land suitable for development” means the net total acreage of the parcel, lot or tract remaining after exclusion of the areas containing, or on which occur the following protected resources: coastal features as defined within R.I. Gen. Laws Chapter 46-23 and in § 1.2.2 of this Subchapter; freshwater wetlands, as defined in § 1.1.2 of this Subchapter (see CRMC Rules and Regulations Governing the Protection and Management of Freshwater Wetlands in the Vicinity of the Coast, Part 2 of this Subchapter); and lands to be developed as streets and roads shall also be excluded from the calculated acreage of developable land.

7. “Nitrogen reducing technologies” means alternative wastewater treatment systems which reduce total nitrogen concentrations by at least 50%. Total nitrogen reduction is the annual mean difference by percentage between total nitrogen concentrations in the effluent of the septic or primary settling tank and the concentrations taken at the end of the treatment zone as defined by the specific technology.

8. “Salt pond region” means the environment within the surface watershed boundaries as delineated on the land use classification maps in § 3.44 of this Part.

9. “Self-sustaining lands” are lands that are undeveloped or developed at a density of not more than one residential unit per 80,000 square feet. Within these areas, the nutrients discharged to groundwater by septic systems, fertilizers and other sources associated with residential activities may be sufficiently diluted to maintain on-site potable groundwater. However, the one residential unit per two acre standard is not considered sufficient to reduce groundwater nitrogen concentrations to levels which will prevent eutrophication, or mitigate for dense development in other portions of the watershed.

10. “Tributary” means any flowing body of water or watercourse which provides intermittent or perennial flow to tidal waters, coastal ponds, coastal wetlands or other down-gradient watercourses which eventually discharge to tidal waters, coastal ponds or coastal wetlands.

11. “Tributary wetlands” means freshwater wetlands within the watershed that are connected via a watercourse to a coastal wetland and/or tidal waters.

12. “Underground storage tank” or “UST” means any one or more underground tanks and their associated components, including piping, used to contain an accumulation of petroleum product or hazardous material.

3.4 Procedures

A. The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Program

1. The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Program Red Book (Part 1 of this Subchapter) should be referred to for specific regulatory requirements on buffers, setbacks, subdivisions, recreational docks, barrier beach development, beach replenishment and any other activities which occur within the Salt Pond Region.

B. Application Process

1. The RICRMP has three categories of applications: Category A, B and A*:

a. Category A activities are routine matters and activities of construction and maintenance work that do not require review of the full Council if four criteria are met: buffer zone compliance, abutter agreement, and proper state and local certifications.

b. Category A* applications are put out to public notice for the benefit of the abutters to the affected property and local and state officials.

c. Category B applications are reviewed by the full Council and the applicant must prepare in writing an environmental assessment of the proposal that addresses all of the items listed in § 1.3.1(A) of this Subchapter and any additional requirements for Category B applications listed for the activity in question.

2. A Category A review may be permitted for A* activities provided that the Executive Director of CRMC determines that all criteria within § 1.1.6(E) of this Subchapter and the relevant SAMP requirements and prerequisites are met. The proposed activity shall not significantly conflict with the existing uses and activities and must be considered to be a minor alteration with respect to potential impacts to the waterway, coastal feature, and areas within RICRMP jurisdiction.

3. The following activities which occur within the Salt Pond Region require a CRMC assent (application approval).

a. Activities within 200 feet of a coastal feature. (Category A, A*, B)

b. Watershed Activities (specific activities taking place within the SAMP watershed).

(1) New subdivisions of 6 units or more, or re-subdivision for a sum total of 6 units or more on the property proposed after March 11, 1990 irrespective of ownership of the property or the length of time between when units are proposed. (Category B)

(2) Development requiring or creating more than 40,000 square feet of total impervious surface. (Category A*/B)

(3) Construction or extension of municipal, private residential hook-ups to existing lines, or industrial sewage facilities, conduits, or interceptors (excluding onsite wastewater treatment systems outside the 200' zone). Any activity or facility which generates or is designed, installed, or operated as a single unit to treat more than 2,000 gallons per day, or any combination of systems owned or controlled by a common owner and having a total design capacity of 2,000 gallons per day. (Category A*/B)

(4) Water distribution systems and supply line extensions (excluding private residential hook-ups to existing lines). (Category A*/B)

(5) All roadway construction and upgrading projects. (Category A*/B)

(6) Development affecting freshwater wetlands in the vicinity of the coast. (Category A/B)

4. For projects involving the following, refer to § 1.3.3 of this Subchapter for the appropriate category.

a. Construction or extension of public or privately owned sanitary landfills.

b. New mineral or aggregate (sand/gravel) mining.

c. Processing, transfer, or storage of chemical and hazardous materials.

d. Electrical generating facilities of more than 40 megawatts capacity.

e. All commercial in-ground petroleum storage tanks of more than 2,400 barrels capacity, all petroleum processing and transfer facilities [residential prohibited].

f. Proposed new or enlarged discharges (velocity and/or volume) to tributaries, tidal waters, or 200' shoreline feature contiguous area.

g. Solid waste disposal.

h. Desalination plants.

5. In addition to the activities listed above, if the Council determines that there is a reasonable probability that the project may impact coastal resources or a conflict with the SAMP or RICRMP, a Council Assent will be required in accordance with all applicable sections of this program.

6. All applicants shall follow applicable requirements as contained in the RICRMP, including any specific requirements listed under water types in § 1.2.1 of this Subchapter, additional Category B requirements in § 1.3.1(A) of this Subchapter, the requirements and prerequisites in § 1.3.3 of this Subchapter for Inland Activities, and any regulations in this SAMP chapter.

7. Applicants proposing the above listed activities are required to submit the following with their applications:

a. A stormwater management plan prepared in accordance with § 1.3.1(F) of this Subchapter and as described in the most recent version of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Stormwater Management, Design and Installation Rules (250-RICR-150-10-8);

b. An erosion and sediment control plan (ESCP) prepared in accordance with the standards contained in § 1.3.1(B) of this Subchapter; and

c. An existing conditions site map and a proposed final site map as required in § 1.3.3 of this Subchapter and as specified in the section for site plan requirements in Department of Environmental Management Stormwater Management, Design and Installation Rules (250-RICR-150-10-8).

8. Preliminary determinations (PD) may be filed for any project by the municipality or the applicant. Preliminary determinations provide advice as to the required steps in the approval process, and the pertinent ordinances, regulations, rules, procedures and standards which may be applied to the proposed development project. Any findings and recommendations resulting from this preliminary review shall be utilized if the applicant returns to file a full assent request for the project, and will be forwarded to the Council as part of the staff reports for major development plans. Applicants for Category B activities within the SAMP watershed are required to utilize the Council's Preliminary Determination process in accordance with applicable requirements of the Land Development and Subdivision Review Enabling Act (R.I. Gen. Laws § 45-23-25 et seq.). Where the Council finds there is a potential to damage the coastal environment, the Council will require that suitable modification to the proposal be made.

C. Variances and special exceptions are granted by the Council under §§ 1.1.7 and 1.1.8 of this Subchapter, respectively.

1. Applicants desiring a variance from a standard must make the request in writing and address the six criteria as specified in § 1.1.7 of this Subchapter. The application is only granted an assent if the Council finds that the six criteria are met.

2. Special exceptions may be granted to prohibited activities to permit alterations and activities that do not conform to a Council goal for the areas affected or which would otherwise be prohibited by the requirements of the RICRMP only when the applicant has met the burdens of proof in § 1.1.8 of this Subchapter.

D. Coordinated Review with Municipalities

1. Under the Subdivision Review Act, one or more pre-application meetings shall be held for all major land developments or subdivision applications (Land Development and Subdivision Review Enabling Act, R.I. Gen. Laws § 45-23-25 et seq.). Pre-application meetings may be held when a preliminary determination is filed with the CRMC, or informally when the municipality requests information from CRMC. All major land development projects as defined under the act and residential subdivisions of 6 units or more shall be considered major land development plans and should file a preliminary determination request with CRMC. The purpose of these meetings is to:

a. Identify and discuss major conflicts and possible design alterations or modifications to obviate conflicts.

b. Discuss the likely onsite impacts of alternatives or modifications and on the ecosystem as a whole.

c. Ensure that there is consensus among the regulatory agencies on any changes, and that conflicts with permit requirements do not arise.

E. Federal Consistency

1. Activities involving a direct or indirect federal activity (includes activities that require a federal permit, such as an Army Corps of Engineers Permit) also require Council review in accordance with the federal consistency process contained in 16 U.S.C. § 1456 (Coastal Zone Management Act). The Council has developed a handbook to assist those subject to federal consistency review. Persons proposing an activity involving a direct or indirect federal activity are referred to the most recent version of this handbook. See: http://www.crmc.ri.gov/regulations/Fed_Consistency.pdf

F. Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program

1. Section 6217 of the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments of 1990 (16 U.S.C. § 1455(b)) requires each coastal state with a federally approved coastal management program to develop and submit a Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program (CNPCP) to the EPA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) by July 1995. Rhode Island’s CNPCP, developed by the RIDEM, the Department of Administration and the CRMC, applies to four general land use activities: agriculture, urban (new development, septic systems, roads, bridges, highways, etc.), marinas, and hydro-modifications. There are also management measures to protect wetlands and riparian areas, and to promote the use of vegetative treatment systems.

3.4.1 Municipal Responsibility

A. The town officials and administration involved in construction, approval of construction and/or regulations regarding the zoning, density, and build-out of development are the municipal arm of this SAMP.

1. Local authorities are responsible for applying the regulations and land use policies to ensure proper application of this plan. Towns should exercise particular consideration of subdivisions because of the potential impacts from stormwater, sewage disposal, infrastructure demands, and decreased open space.

2. The CRMC evaluates projects that fall under this plan as referenced earlier, even if development is not completed all at once. A developer still falls under the CRMC major subdivision review conditions upon additional construction. Stormwater concerns, sewage disposal concerns, buffers, etc. may be difficult to accommodate with the addition of new lots. Therefore, it is important for municipalities to apply SAMP regulations to initial development of a subdivision.

3.4.2 Water Quality Policies

A. The evidence presented in Chapter 3 Water Quality of this SAMP indicates that water quality continues to be degraded in the Salt Pond Region due to existing residential sources of nitrogen and bacteria. Although research conducted at the University of Rhode Island suggests a correlation between housing density and the symptoms of eutrophication in the salt ponds, there is no clear nitrogen loading threshold which CRMC can apply to each individual activity and development. Accordingly, CRMC addresses nitrogen loading through conservative land use regulations and nitrogen reducing technologies.

B. The installation and operation of nitrogen removal systems is permissible under Department of Environmental Management Rules Establishing Minimum Standards Relating to Location, Design, Construction and Maintenance of Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (250-RICR-150-10-6). CRMC requires nitrogen removal systems as noted in Table 1 in §§ 3.4.2(E) and in 3.4.3 of this Part.

C. In addition to the impacts of nitrogen, other nonpoint sources of pollution like sediment from erosion and road runoff, petroleum hydrocarbons from vessel engines and road salts are also a concern. As impervious areas increase within the salt pond watersheds these pollutants have a greater potential to reach coastal waters.

D. Table 1 in § 3.4.2(E) of this Part summarizes the land use classification system, with the requirements for nitrogen reducing technologies, buffer zone and setback requirements. The CRMC land use classification maps which regulate land use densities and other activities in the SAMP region follow in § 3.4.4 of this Part.


E. Table 1: CRMC land-use classification requirements for density, setbacks, buffer zones and nitrogen reducing technologies for activities within 200 feet of a coastal feature and all watershed activities as defined in §§ 3.4(B)(3) and 3.4(B)(4) of this Part.

Land-use classification

Description

Coastal buffer zone requirement1

Construction setback requirement1

OWTS setback requirement1

Nitrogen reducing technology requirement 1,2

Developed beyond carrying capacity

Lands developed or undeveloped at < 80,000 square feet [SE or Var]

Coastal buffer based on § 1.1.11 of this Subchapter [Var]

Coastal buffer plus 25 feet

Nitrogen reducing technology required [SE, Var]

New OWTS installations or alteration 4 [SE, Var]

Critical concern

Lands developed or undeveloped at 120,000 square feet and have sensitive salt pond or watershed resources [SE or Var]

200 feet [SE or Var]

Coastal buffer plus 25 feet

225 feet [SE, Var]

Lands subdivided after adoption of SAMP that do not meet the CRMC density requirement and substandard lots of record [SE, Var].

Self-sustaining

Lands developed, undeveloped at 80,000 square feet [SE or Var]

150 feet [SE or Var]

Coastal buffer plus 25 feet

200 feet [SE, Var]

Lands subdivided after adoption of SAMP that do not meet the CRMC density requirement and substandard lots of record [SE, Var]

[SE or Var] indicates if relief from the requirement or regulations requires a special exception, variance or both.

1 – CRMC land use classification requirements for density, setbacks, buffer zones and nitrogen reducing technologies are for activities within CRMC jurisdiction (See §§ 3.4(A)(1) and 3.4(B)(1) of this Part)

2 – A special exception is required for relief from the density requirement, coastal buffer, construction setback, OWTS setback or nitrogen reducing technology requirement unless the lot is pre-platted and cannot accommodate the requirement.

3 – Nitrogen reducing technologies are defined in § 3.3 of this Part.

4 – As defined by Department of Environmental Management Rules Establishing Minimum Standards Relating to Location, Design, Construction and Maintenance of Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (250-RICR-150-10-6)


3.4.3 Land Use Classification for Watershed Protection (formerly § 920.1)

A. Self-Sustaining Lands

1. Policies and Regulations

a. Subdivisions as defined in § 1.1.2 of this Subchapter shall not exceed an average density of one residential unit per 80,000 square feet for Self-Sustaining Lands. The allowable number of units in conformance with this standard shall be calculated on the basis of available land suitable for development as defined in § 3.3 of this Part. The division of a tract, lot or parcel not subject to municipal regulation under the provisions of R.I. Gen. Laws Chapter 45-23 et seq., for the reasons set forth therein shall remain subject to the jurisdiction of the requirements of R.I. Gen. Laws Chapter 46-23 et seq. and Part 1 of this Subchapter and this Part.

b. The number of allowable units in a cluster shall be calculated on the basis of lands suitable for development as defined in § 3.3 of this Part within the subdivision and in accordance with all local ordinances.

c. Any major land development project or any major subdivision of land (as defined in R.I. Gen. Laws Chapter 45-23 et seq.) within Self-Sustaining Lands, occurring after November 27, 1984, must meet the minimum density requirement of one residential unit per 80,000 square feet. Relief from this regulation requires a special exception as defined in § 1.1.8 of this Subchapter. Lands which were subdivided prior to November 27, 1984 and do not meet the CRMC density requirement specified in § 3.4.3(A)(1)(a) of this Part require a variance as defined in § 1.1.7 of this Subchapter.

d. Nitrogen reducing technologies as defined in § 3.3 of this Part are required for any lands subdivided after April 12, 1999 that do not meet the CRMC density requirement (80,000 square feet) for activities within 200' of a coastal feature and all watershed activities as defined in §§ 3.4(B)(3) and (4) of this Part. Relief from this regulation requires a special exception as defined in § 1.1.8 of this Subchapter, unless the lands were subdivided prior to April 12, 1999 and cannot accommodate the requirement or the DEM has issued an OWTS permit supported by clear and convincing scientifically valid evidence submitted by the applicant pursuant to the OWTS Rules that demonstrates wastewater discharged from the site will not recharge groundwater flowing to the salt ponds. A nitrogen reducing technology cannot be used as mitigation to increase dwelling densities on parcels which can support the density requirement.

e. A minimum 200-foot setback from the salt ponds, their tributaries, and coastal wetlands, including tributary wetlands, is required for OWTS in Self Sustaining Lands for activities within 200 feet of a coastal feature and all watershed activities as defined in §§ 3.4(B)(3) and (4) of this Part. Relief from this regulation requires a special exception as defined in § 1.1.8 of this Subchapter, unless the lands were subdivided prior to April 12, 1999 and cannot accommodate the requirement.

f. A 150-foot buffer zone from the salt ponds, their tributaries, and coastal wetlands, including tributary wetlands, is required for activities within 200 feet of a coastal feature and all watershed activities as defined in §§ 3.4(B)(3) and (4) of this Part in Self Sustaining Lands. Relief from this regulation requires a special exception as defined in § 1.1.8 of this Subchapter, unless the lands were subdivided prior to November 27, 1984 and cannot accommodate the requirement.

g. The installation of sewers is prohibited, unless all of the following conditions are met:

(1) the property meets the RIDEM regulatory siting requirements for the installation of a conventional OWTS;

(2) the proposal is agreeable to both the town and the CRMC;

(3) a deed restriction is attached to the property ensuring no further subdivision; and

(4) the properties to be sewered are within 500 feet of an existing sewer line or are within a subdivision which abuts the sewer easement.

h. Public water service is considered a low priority. When new public water supplies are proposed, the source wells and the distribution lines shall remain within a single watershed and not divert groundwater from one salt pond watershed to another.

i. The Council recognizes that in areas abutting the salt ponds, their tributaries and other critical resource areas, existing nitrogen reducing technologies may not be sufficient to reduce groundwater nitrogen concentrations to levels which will prevent further eutrophication in the salt ponds. If new technology improves the nitrogen removal capability of these systems and new research indicates the need for further nitrogen removal, CRMC will reevaluate the need for increased nitrogen removal.

2. Municipal policies

a. Some lands, as presently zoned by the towns, may not meet the density requirements for Self-Sustaining Lands (80,000 square feet) or Lands of Critical Concern (120,000 square feet). In such cases the CRMC will require the towns to be consistent with CRMC density requirements, where possible, during CRMC review of town zoning changes to the Comprehensive Plan.

b. The Council recommends the use of cluster development as a means to preserve open space, agricultural lands and aesthetic qualities, reduce impervious surfaces and the costs of development, and minimize the environmental impacts of development.

c. For activities outside CRMC jurisdiction but within the SAMP boundaries, CRMC strongly recommends that the towns adopt CRMC regulations for OWTS setbacks and nitrogen reducing technologies as identified in Table 1 of § 3.4.2(E) of this Part.

d. The Council recommends the use of wastewater management districts and the protocols established in the Rhode Island Septic System Inspection Handbook (see: http://www.dem.ri.gov/pubs/regs/regs/water/isdsbook.pdf) for septic system inspection and pump-out to limit the occurrence of failed on-site sewage disposal systems.

B. Lands of Critical Concern

1. Policies and Regulations

a. Subdivisions as defined in § 1.1.2 of this Subchapter shall not exceed an average density of one residential unit per 120,000 square feet for Lands of Critical Concern. The allowable number of units in conformance with this standard shall be calculated on the basis of available land suitable for development as defined in § 3.3 of this Part. The division of a tract, lot or parcel not subject to municipal regulation under the provisions of R.I. Gen. Laws Chapter 45-23 et seq., for the reasons set forth therein shall remain subject to the jurisdiction of the requirements of R.I. Gen. Laws Chapter 46-23 et seq. and Part 1 of this Subchapter and this Part.

b. The number of allowable units in a cluster shall be calculated on the basis of lands suitable for development as defined in § 3.3 of this Part within the subdivision and in accordance with all local ordinances.

c. Any major land development project or any major subdivision of land (as defined in R.I. Gen. Laws Chapter 45-23 et seq.) within Self-Sustaining Lands, occurring after November 27, 1984, must meet the minimum density requirement of one residential unit per 120,000 square feet. Relief from this regulation requires a special exception as defined in § 1.1.8 of this Subchapter. Lands which were subdivided prior to November 27, 1984 and do not meet the CRMC density requirement specified in § 3.4.3(B)(1)(a) of this Part require a variance as defined in § 1.1.7 of this Subchapter.

d. Nitrogen reducing technologies as defined in § 3.3 of this Part are required for any lands subdivided after April 12, 1999 that do not meet the CRMC density requirement for Lands of Critical Concern (120,000 square feet) for activities within 200 feet of a coastal feature and all watershed activities as defined in §§ 3.4(B)(3) and (4) of this Part. Relief from this regulation requires a special exception as defined in § 1.1.8 of this Subchapter, unless the lands were subdivided prior to April 12, 1999 and cannot accommodate the requirement or the DEM has issued an OWTS permit supported by clear and convincing scientifically valid evidence submitted by the applicant pursuant to the OWTS Rules that demonstrates wastewater discharged from the site will not recharge groundwater flowing to the salt ponds. A nitrogen reducing technology cannot be used as mitigation to increase dwelling densities on parcels which can support the density requirement.

e. Lands of Critical Concern which are also zoned for 80,000 square feet by municipal zoning regulations may be developed at densities of one residential unit per 80,000 square feet only if a nitrogen reducing technology is used as the method of sewage removal. In the event that a property has frontage on a sewer line then hooking up to the sewer will be mandatory.

f. A minimum 225-foot setback from the salt ponds, their tributaries, and coastal wetlands, including tributary wetlands, is required for OWTS in Lands of Critical Concern for activities within 200 feet of a coastal feature and all watershed activities as defined in §§ 3.4(B)(3) and (4) of this Part. Relief from this regulation requires a special exception as defined in § 1.1.8 of this Subchapter, unless the lands were subdivided prior to April 12, 1999 and cannot accommodate the requirement.

g. A 200-foot buffer zone from the salt ponds, their tributaries, and coastal wetlands, including tributary wetlands, is required for all development activities within 200 feet of a coastal feature and all watershed activities as defined in §§ 3.4(B)(3) and (4) of this Part in Lands of Critical Concern. Relief from this regulation requires a special exception as defined in § 1.1.8 of this Subchapter, unless the lands were subdivided prior to November 27, 1984 and cannot accommodate the requirement.

(1) Activities permitted within the buffer zone may include various management options consistent with CRMC’s buffer zone management guidance, and, in Type 2 waters, one dock per lot of record as of November 27, 1984.

(2) Activities prohibited within the buffer strip include sewage disposal systems or leach fields, surfaced roadways, culverts, bulkheads, riprap and lawns. Fertilizers shall not be applied within the buffer zones except where necessary to establish vegetation in areas that are eroding or need to be restored.

h. The installation of sewers is prohibited, unless all of the following conditions are met:

(1) the property meets the RIDEM regulatory siting requirements for the installation of a conventional onsite sewage disposal system;

(2) the proposal is agreeable to both the town and the CRMC;

(3) a deed restriction is attached to the property ensuring no further subdivision; and

(4) the properties to be sewered are within 500 feet of an existing sewer line or are within a subdivision which abuts the sewer easement.

i. Public water service is considered a low priority. When new public water supplies are proposed, the source wells and the distribution lines shall remain within a single watershed and not divert groundwater from one salt pond watershed to another.

j. The Council recognizes that in areas abutting the salt ponds, their tributaries and other critical resource areas, existing nitrogen reducing technologies may not be sufficient to reduce groundwater nitrogen concentrations to levels which will prevent further eutrophication in the salt ponds. If new technology improves the nitrogen removal capability of these systems and new research indicates the need for further nitrogen removal, CRMC will reevaluate the need for increased nitrogen removal.

2. Municipal policies

a. Some lands, as presently zoned by the towns, may not meet the density requirements for Lands of Critical Concern (120,000 square feet). In such cases the CRMC will require the towns to be consistent with CRMC density requirements, where possible, during CRMC review of town zoning changes to the Comprehensive Plan.

b. The Council recommends the use of cluster development as a means to preserve open space, agricultural lands and aesthetic qualities, reduce impervious surfaces and the costs of development, and minimize the environmental impacts of development.

c. Lands of Critical Concern should be priority areas for additional measures to minimize pollution loadings from development through municipal, state or federal acquisition for open space and conservation easements and/or tax relief and aquifer protection ordinances.

d. For activities outside CRMC jurisdiction but within the SAMP boundaries, CRMC strongly recommends that the towns adopt CRMC regulations for OWTS setbacks and nitrogen reducing technologies as identified in Table 1 in § 3.4.2(E) of this Part.

e. The Council recommends the use of wastewater management districts and the protocols established in the Rhode Island Septic System Inspection Handbook (see: http://www.dem.ri.gov/pubs/regs/regs/water/isdsbook.pdf) for septic system inspection and pump-out to limit the occurrence of failed on-site sewage disposal systems.

C. Lands Developed Beyond Carrying Capacity

1. Policies and Regulations

a. Nitrogen reducing technologies as defined in § 3.3 of this Part are required for all new installations or replacement of existing OWTS for activities within 200 feet of a coastal feature and all watershed activities as defined in §§ 3.4(B)(3) and (4) of this Part within Lands Developed Beyond Carrying Capacity. Relief from this regulation requires a special exception as defined in § 1.1.8 of this Subchapter, unless the lands were subdivided prior to April 12, 1999 and cannot accommodate the requirement or the DEM has issued an OWTS permit supported by clear and convincing scientifically valid evidence submitted by the applicant pursuant to the OWTS Rules that demonstrates wastewater discharged from the site will not recharge groundwater flowing to the salt ponds.

b. Regular maintenance and, when necessary, the upgrading of OWTS are of the highest priority in unsewered densely developed areas.

c. Densely developed lands on Great Island and Harbor Island in Narragansett and at the northern end of Point Judith Pond in South Kingstown are in close proximity to existing sewer lines; in these areas extension of sewer service is a priority.

d. Public water service is a high priority for Lands Developed Beyond Carrying Capacity because of the high incidence of poor groundwater quality in these densely developed areas. When new public water supplies are proposed, the supply wells and service areas for public water supplies shall be kept within individual watersheds. The export of groundwater from one watershed to another should be minimized.

e. For existing development, buffer zones along the perimeter of salt ponds, their tributaries and tributary wetlands, and other shoreline features shall be required in accordance with § 1.1.11 of this Subchapter. For new development, buffers shall be an absolute minimum of 25 feet in width. Variances to the buffer standard shall be consistent with the conditions for relief in § 1.1.11 of this Subchapter.

f. The Council recognizes that in areas abutting the salt ponds, their tributaries and other critical resource areas, existing nitrogen reducing technologies may not be sufficient to reduce groundwater nitrogen concentrations to levels which will prevent further eutrophication in the salt ponds. If new technology improves the nitrogen removal capability of these systems and new research indicates the need for further nitrogen removal, CRMC will re-evaluate the need for increased nitrogen removal.

2. Municipal policies

a. Undeveloped areas previously platted at extremely high densities are priority areas for amendments to zoning ordinances and other actions to provide for reduced density, i.e., a minimum of 80,000 square feet.

b. For activities outside CRMC jurisdiction but within the SAMP boundaries, CRMC strongly recommends that the towns adopt CRMC regulations for nitrogen reducing technologies as identified in Table 1 in § 3.4.2(E) of this Part.

c. The Council recommends the use of wastewater management districts and the protocols established in the Rhode Island Septic System Inspection Handbook (see: http://www.dem.ri.gov/pubs/regs/regs/water/isdsbook.pdf) for septic system inspection and pump-out to limit the occurrence of failed on-site sewage disposal systems.

3.4.4 Land Use Classification System Maps

A. User-friendly, high resolution CRMC land use classification maps for the Salt Pond Region SAMP communities of Westerly, Charlestown, South Kingstown and Narragansett (Figures 1 through 4 below) are available on the CRMC web site. See: http://www.crmc.ri.gov/samp_sp.html.



B. Figure 1: Land Use Classification System for the Town of Westerly

C. Figure 2: Land Use Classification System for the Town of Charlestown.

D. Figure 3: Land Use Classification System for the Town of South Kingstown.