Frequently Asked Questions
The following provides a list of the more frequently asked questions we receive in the Planning Department. If you need clarification on any of the questions or answers, please contact the Planning Department.
100 FAIRWAY DRIVE
NORTH KINGSTOWN, RI 02852
1. Property Information Requests (zoning, lot size, setbacks, OWTS, land use and zoning history, project status, easement and deed inquiries).
The zoning of parcel or lot can be found on the plat maps, on Vision Appraisal, in Section 21-363 of the zoning ordinance or on the town’s AppGeo website. The plat maps and zoning ordinance can also be obtained by contacting the Planning Department.
The lot size can also be found on the plats maps, Vision appraisal and the AppGeo web site as noted above.
The set-backs of a property are zone-specific and can be found in Article IV "Dimensional Regulations" table of the Zoning Ordinance. You can also contact the Planning Department for setback information.
Information regarding onsite wastewater treatment systems (OWTS) can be accessed by contacting the Building Official’s office by calling 294-3331 Ext 301 & 303 or visiting their office located at 100 Fairway Drive. You can also access OWTS information on the RIDEM web site: Use these links for OWTS approved before 1990 and OWTS approved after 1990.
If you are looking to get information on the land use and zoning history of a property or obtain information on easements or deeds, you should contact the Planning Department directly.
2. How can I find geographic information about my property?
The Town maintains an interactive web-based GIS, AppGeo, which you can use to look up information relative to any property in North Kingstown. Once on the AppGeo page and you agree to the terms, you can use the “Property Quick Search” tab in the upper right corner to access property information by address, plat and lot or owner name. You click on the property you are searching for in the results box below on the right side of the screen. The parcel will be highlighted on the map. The closer you zoom in, the better you can see the dimensions of the lot.
AppGeo offers the following geographic information under the “Themes” tab:
Zoning, CRMC Water Use Categories, FEMA Flood Zones, Elevation Contours, Hurricane Evacuation Zones, Hurricane Inundation, and Wetlands. You can also turn on different base layers under themes, “base theme” and utilize the drop down box to select the base map you prefer.
The AppGeo web page also provides a link to the Vision Appraisal Tax Assessor database for the property that is selected. You can access this database for the parcel selected by clicking on “Property Record Card” under View Details on the left side of the page.
3. What are the permitted uses on my property?
You can view the permitted uses for any property in the land use table located in Article III of the zoning ordinance. Once you know your zone, look for that zone across the top row of the table. Then you can scroll down the table and see which land uses are allowed by noting the “Y” in the column under your zone. If an “N” is listed, that use is not allowed. If an “S” is shown, a special use permit must be obtained from the Zoning Board of Review for that use. If an “A” is shown, the use is allowed as an accessory use to the allowed primary use. There are also a series of footnotes that are listed at the end of the table. These should be referenced as appropriate as well.
You can also call the Planning Department to discuss the potential uses allowed at 268-1571 or visiting the office at 100 Fairway Drive.
4. How can I access the zoning ordinance?
You can access the zoning ordinance on the town’s MuniCode web site. You can also view a copy of the zoning ordinance in the Planning Department located at 100 Fairway Drive.
5. How do I access a copy of a plat map?
Call the Planning Department at (401) 268-1571 to request any of the Planning Department’s maps, including plat maps.
6. Is there a survey of property available at the Planning Department?
There may be a survey available if the property has ever been granted dimensional relief from the zoning ordinance or your property was subdivided. Some survey plans also get recorded. Contact the Planning Department to inquire as to whether there is a survey for your property on record. You can also check with the town clerk’s office to see if a survey has been recorded for your property. You can also check the online land records web page here: Land Records
7. Is my vacant lot ’build-able’?
It is up to the property owner to hire an engineer and go through the review process to determine if their property is build-able. Although the town can provide information on the possible presence of wetlands and other environmentally sensitive areas for discussion purposes, the town will not make the determination on whether it is build-able.
8. I received a public hearing notice…what does this mean?
When a property owner is seeking relief from the zoning ordinance, looking to subdivide or otherwise develop their land, or if they wish to make changes to the zoning designation associated with their land, the town may require that a notice be sent to abutting property owners. The property owner looking to make changes to their property has to make an application to the Planning Department that details their proposal. Depending on the relief or permissions being sought, the Zoning Board or Planning Commission may review the application to determine if the proposal meets the applicable code sections or could meet the code sections with reasonable conditions. In most cases, notices are required for those abutting landowners located within 200 feet of the property for which an application was submitted.
1. Can I operate a home occupation on my property?
Depending on the zoning of your property, a homeowner may be able to operate a home occupation either within their dwelling or within an accessory structure. The land use table of the zoning ordinance lists “home occupation” as one of the land uses. You should consult the land use table found in Article III of the zoning ordinance as a first step in determining whether a home occupation is allowed in your zoning district. See Question 3 above to access the land use table.
Section 21-320 of the zoning ordinance addresses home occupations. You should consult the home occupation section in order to determine if you can meet the conditions stipulated to operate the home occupation.
You should also consult with the town clerk’s office for any licensing requirements.
1. How do I obtain a zoning certificate?
A zoning certificate is a document signed by the zoning administrator which acknowledges that a use, structure, building or lot either complies with or is legally nonconforming to this chapter or is an authorized variance or modification therefrom. An application for a zoning certificate can be found here. The application should be submitted to the Planning Department either by mail or dropped off in person at 100 Fairway Drive, North Kingstown, RI 02852. The application should be accompanied by a check made payable to the Town of North Kingstown in the amount of $65.
Subdividing and Moving Property Lines
1. How do I move my property line?
Moving the property line between two existing lots or parcels is called an Administrative Subdivision. Administrative Subdivisions is a “re-subdivision of existing lots which yields no additional lots for development and involves no creation or extension of streets. Such re-subdivision shall only involve divisions, mergers, mergers and division, or adjustments of boundaries of existing lots”. It requires application to the Planning Department. The application will be reviewed and approved by the Administrative Officer. Section 5.3.3. of the Subdivision Regulations outlines the requirements of the administrative subdivision process. They can be found under Section 5.3, Review and Approval of Plats and Plans, Procedure for Approval.
2. How do I subdivide my property?
There are three types of subdivisions allowed in Rhode Island: Administrative (See Question 1 of this section), Minor, and Major. A Minor Subdivision results in 5 or fewer lots, and a Major Subdivision results in 6 or more lots. All subdivisions require application to the Planning Department, and the review process is dependent on the type of subdivision requested. More information on the three types of subdivision, and the respective review processes, can be found here in Article 5.
3. Where do I get a subdivision application?
An application for subdivision can be obtained on the Planning Department Application page under Subdivision and Land Development Application . You can also obtain an application in the Planning Department office located at 100 Fairway Drive.
Development Plan Review
1. What is development plan review?
Development plan review is the process whereby authorized local officials review the site plans, maps and other documentation of a development to determine the compliance with the stated purposes and standards of the zoning ordinance. The purpose of the development plan review is to insure compliance with the comprehensive plan and protect the health, safety, convenience and general welfare of the inhabitants of the town by providing a review of plans for uses and structures which may have significant impacts on traffic, municipal and public services and utilities, environmental quality, community economics and public health. The intent of the development plan review is to identify certain elements set forth, the standards and requirements for commercial and industrial development and which serve to carry out the goals, visions and policies of the town’s comprehensive plan and the policies and requirements of this chapter.
2. What is the process for development plan review?
The review process for a development project depends on the size and scale of the proposal. Administrative approval is required for “any construction of a structure, group of structures, alteration, improvement or change of use of a building or property which does not meet the criteria for planning commission review shall require development plan approval by the director of planning and development” including: (a)Any structure or group of structures proposed for commercial or industrial use containing less than 50,000 square feet of total floor area under the same ownership or contiguous lots;(b)Any structure or group of structures proposed for a mixed use development less than 100,000 square feet of total floor area under the same ownership or contiguous lots.
Approval by the Planning Commission is required for the following: “Any construction of a structure, group of structures, any alteration or improvement or change of use of property for commercial or industrial use as described in B.(1)(a) of this section which is located in a groundwater recharge and wellhead overlay district shall require development plan review and approval by the planning commission”
Certain activities are exempt. Please refer to Section 21-284 for more detail on these exemptions as well as other requirements of the development plan review process.
3. Where can I get an application for development plan review?
The application as well as the checklist requirements for development plan review can be accessed Planning Department Application web page under Development Plan Review. You can also obtain a copy of the application and checklist by contacting the Planning Department at 268-1571 or visiting 100 Fairway Drive.
4. What is the Technical Review Committee?
The Technical Review Committee (TRC) is a subcommittee of the planning commission. that conducts technical reviews of applications subject to planning commission jurisdiction. These technical reviews shall be for the purposes of making recommendations to the commission, with such recommendations being advisory in nature, and not binding upon the commission.
Membership of the TRC shall include, but not be limited to: The Director of Planning and Development;(2)The Director of Public Works;(3)The Director of Water Supply;(4)The Fire Chief;(5)The Chief of Police;(6)The Town Engineer; and(7)The Environmental Coordinator.
The TRC meets once monthly.
5. Will I be notified when development is proposed near my house?
Certain land use activities require notice to abutting property owners. For any proposed zoning variance, special use permit, zone change, land use designation change or subdivision (other than administrative) applications must notify abutting properties. The radius and timeline for this notification is based upon the type of application being submitted. Additionally, a notice of public hearing will appear in a newspaper of general circulation typically 14 days prior to a scheduled meeting.
6. How do I provide comments on a proposed development?
If the application is scheduled for a hearing or meeting before a board or commission, you can attend that meeting and offer your comments during the public comment period. You can also email or mail your comments to the Planning Department, 100 Fairway Drive. It is helpful if you reference the project name or address in your written or emailed comments. The comments must address land use standards and be submitted prior to the public comment period closing. The public comment period varies by project. You can also contact the Planning Department for more information.
ZONING BOARD of REVIEW
1. Where can I get a copy of an application for the Zoning Board of Review?
A copy of an application for the Zoning Board of Review (ZBR) is available on the Planning Department Application web page. You can also obtain a copy by contacting the Planning Department at 268-1571 or visiting the office at 100 Fairway Drive. The instructions for applying to the ZBR are also available on the application page under Zoning Board of Review-Application for Instructions.
2. What are the public hearing and notice requirements?
The zoning board of review shall hold a public hearing on any application for a variance, special use permit and special permit after receipt, in proper form, of the application and all required submission items and data. The zoning board of review shall give notice of the public hearing at least 14 days prior to the date of the hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in the town. Notice of the hearing shall be sent first class mail to the applicant, and to at least all those who require notice under subsection 21-19(c). The notice shall include the street address of the subject property. The application must pay for the cost of notification.
3. What are the criteria for the granting of a dimensional variance?
In granting a variance to this chapter, the zoning board of review shall require that evidence to the satisfaction of the following standards be entered into the record of the proceedings:
(1) The hardship from which the applicant seeks relief is due to the unique characteristics of the subject land or structure and not the general characteristics of the surrounding area, and is not due to a physical or economic disability of the applicant.
(2) The hardship is not the result of any prior action of the applicant and does not result primarily from the desire of the applicant to realize greater financial gain.
(3) The granting of the requested variance will not alter the general character of the surrounding area or impair the intent or purpose of this chapter or the comprehensive plan upon which this chapter is based.
(4) The relief to be granted is the least relief necessary.
Evidence required for grant of variance. The zoning board of review shall, in addition to the standards in subsection (a) of this section, require that evidence be entered into the record of the proceedings showing that:
(1) In granting a use variance, the subject land or structure cannot yield any beneficial use if it is required to conform to the land use sections of this chapter. Nonconforming use of neighboring land or structures in the same district and permitted use of lands or structures in an adjacent district shall not be considered in granting a use variance; and
(2) In granting a dimensional variance, the hardship suffered by the owner of the subject property if the dimensional variance is not granted amounts to more than a mere inconvenience. The fact that a use may be more profitable or that a structure may be more valuable after the relief is granted shall not be grounds for relief.
The Criteria for Relief can be found under Section 21-14 of the Zoning Ordinance as well as on the application page of the Planing Department web page under Zoning Board of Review - Criteria for Relief.
4. What is the criteria for a special use permit?
(a) In granting a special use permit or special permit under this chapter, the zoning board of review shall require that evidence to the satisfaction of the following standards be entered into the record of the proceedings:
(1) The requested special use permit will not alter the general character of the surrounding area or impair the intent or purpose of this chapter or the comprehensive plan upon which this chapter is based.
(2) The special use permit is reasonably necessary to serve the public convenience and welfare.
(3) The granting of a special use permit will not pose a threat to the drinking water supply.
(4) The use will not disrupt the neighborhood or the privacy of abutting landowners by excessive noise, light, glare or air pollutants.
(5 )Sewage and waste disposal into the ground and the surface water drainage from the proposed use will be adequately handled on site.
(6) The traffic generated by the proposed use will not cause undue congestion or introduce a traffic hazard to the circulation pattern of the area.
(7) Accessory signs, off-street parking and loading area and outdoor lighting are designed and located in a manner which complements the character of the neighborhood.
(8)In addition to the criteria in subsections (1) through (7) of this section, in the case of a special permit, the board shall require evidence that the requested use will have a lesser undesirable impact upon the surrounding area than the preceding nonconforming use.
The Criteria for Relief can be found under Section 21-15 of the Zoning Ordinance as well as on the application page of the Planing Department web page under Zoning Board of Review - Criteria for Relief.
1. If I live in the Wickford Historic District, what do I need to know?
Before a property owner may authorize or commence construction, alteration, repair, removal or demolition affecting the exterior appearance of a structure or its appurtenances within the historic district, the owner must apply for and receive a certificate of appropriateness from the commission. In applying, the owner must comply with application procedures as established by the commission. The commission shall require the owner 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 any other information set forth in the application procedures. The owner of the property must obtain a certificate of appropriateness for the project, whether or not state law requires a permit from the building inspector. The building inspector shall not issue a permit until the commission has granted a certificate of appropriateness.
The Wickford Historic District map can be found HERE.
2. What is the review process for the Historic District Commission?
In reviewing plans, the historic district commission shall give consideration to the following:
(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.
3. Where do I get an application for the Historic District Commission (HDC)?
An application for the HDC can be obtained on the Planning Department Application page under Historic District Commission. This web page also has extensive information on the historic district and the HDC including an application review guide, instructions and checklists, HDC rules and regulations, as well as the US Secretary of Interior guidelines and standards for rehabilitation.
You can also obtain an application by visiting the Planning Department located at the Municipal Offices Building, 100 Fairway Drive.
WICKFORD VILLAGE DESIGN GUIDELINES OVERLAY DISTRICT
1. What are the boundaries of the Wickford Village Design Guidelines Overlay District (WVDGOD)?
Click here to view the WVDGOD boundaries.
2. What regulations do I have to follow if my property is located in the WVDGOD?
You can access the regulations that apply within the WVDGOD on the MuniCode web site under Chapter 21, Article VIII, Section 21-191.
FLOOD ZONE INFORMATION
1. How do I find out if my property is in a flood zone?
Flood zone information can be found on the town’s web-based mapping web site, AppGeo. You can also access flood zone information from the RI Emergency Management agency (RIEMA) web site. FEMA Flood Maps are available on the FEMA Flood Map Service Center page.
You can also contact the Planning Department or Building Official’s office to inquire about flood zone information related to your property.
Zoning Ordinance, Zone Change and Zoning Ordinance Amendments
1. Where can I review a copy of the zoning ordinance?
The zoning ordinance can accessed through the Municipal Code Corporation web site. The zoning ordinance is located in Article III, Chapter 21.
Zoning Ordinance or Map Adoption or Amendment
See Section 21-19 of the Zoning ordinance.
Amendments to the Subdivision and Land Development Regulations
Please see Article 10 of the Subdivision and Land Development Regulation for the process to amend these regulations.
1. What is the comprehensive plan?
As defined in CHAPTER 45-22.2-5 of the Rhode Island Comprehensive Planning and Land Use Act , “the comprehensive plan is a statement (in text, maps, illustrations, or other media of communication) that is designed to provide a basis for rational decision making regarding the long-term physical development of the municipality. The definition of goals and policies relative to the distribution of future land uses, both public and private, forms the basis for land use decisions to guide the overall physical, economic, and social development of the municipality”.
2. Where can I get a copy of the comprehensive plan?
You can access a digital copy of the comprehensive plan here or on the town’s comprehensive plan web page http://northkingstown.org/194/Comprehensive-Plan-Re-Write . The RI Statewide Planning Program maintains a library of all comprehensive plans for the state. You can view all of them here: Statewide Planning
You can view a paper copy in the Planning Department located at 100 Fairway Drive.
3. What are the requirements for the comprehensive plan?
RIGL 45-22.2-6. Required content of a comprehensive plan.
- Minimum twenty (20) year planning timeframe in considering forecasts, goals, and policies.
- The plan must identify the goals and policies of the municipality for its future growth and development and for the conservation of its natural and cultural resources.
- The plan must contain maps illustrating the following as appropriate:
Existing conditions for:
- Land use, including the range of residential housing densities;
- Key infrastructure such as, but not limited to, roads, public water, and sewer;
- Service areas for public water and sewer;
- Historical and cultural resource areas and sites;
- Open space and conservation areas (public and private); and
- Natural resources such as, but not limited to, surface water, wetlands, floodplains, soils, and agricultural land;
- Future land use illustrating the desired patterns of development, density, and conservation as defined by the comprehensive plan; and
- Identification of discrepancies between future land uses and existing zoning use categories.
- Natural resource identification and conservation.
- Open space and outdoor recreation.
- Historical and cultural resources.
- Economic development.
- Services and facilities.
- Natural hazards.
- Land use. The land use component shall designate the proposed general distribution and general location and interrelationships of land uses. It shall include population density and building intensity to the capacity of the land and available or planned facilities and services as well as an analysis of the inconsistency of existing zoning districts, if any, with planned future land use and specify the process by which the zoning ordinance and zoning map shall be amended to conform to the comprehensive plan.
- Implementation program.
4. Where can I review the Future Land Use Map?
The Future Land Use Map can be found in the Land Use Element of the comprehensive plan and also be viewed here: Future Land Use Map.
5. What is the process for amending the comprehensive plan?
The adoption or amendment of a comprehensive plan is outlined in RIGL Chapter 45-22.2 Rhode Island Comprehensive Planning and Land Use Act SECTION 45-22.2-8. Any adoption or amendment shall be conducted according to the provisions as summarized here:
You can obtain a copy of an application to amend the comprehensive plan here: