More than a dozen properties in Barrington’s only agricultural area, Nockum Hill, were given a new zoning designation on Monday night by the Town Council.
The new zoning was approved as part of a package of properties in 15 areas that the Planning Board asked to be rezoned. Most of the changes simply align the town’s zoning with the Comprehensive Community Plan.
“We’re just trying to catch up to what is already happening out there,” said Planning Board chairman Mike McCormick at a workshop with the Town Council on the zoning maps a couple of weeks ago.
A variety of parcels in Plat 37 in Nockum Hill, however, were selected for R40 Conservation Development -- a new technique for land use that is intended to preserve a neighborhood’s character without limiting a property owner’s rights. Those parcels sit along the border of Swansea, Seekonk and Hundred Acre Cove; many are used by Four Town Farm.
Town Planner Phil Hervey, who made a presentation to the Town Council for the Planning Board, said the area was selected for Conservation Development primarily because it is the only remaining rural area in Barrington. And this zoning designation seems to be the best way to preserve its character.
The goal of this type of zoning is to protect at least 50 percent of a parcel of land as open space at no cost to the town, which in many instances is the only way to preserve land.
A handout given to the Town Council several weeks ago from the RI Department of Environmental Management states that Conservation Development zones protect natural and cultural amenities that can add value to a property and quality of life. It touts economic, environmental and social and recreation advantages.
Nancy Letendre, a solicitor for Barrington, said: “Open space has a positive impact on property values.”
Letendre had told the Town Council previously that Conservation Development zoning has been used in Rhode Island for about 10 years, particularly in South Kingstown, North Kingstown and Charlestown. A property owner who develops land with this type of conservation easement would get a 40 percent density bonus, she said.
Most of the rezoned land states the obvious.
School properties were rezoned from Open Space Active to Recreation and Education.
The Police Cove site, being designed as a park, was rezoned from R25 to Open Space Active.
The Barrington Town Hall, Public Safety Building, Public Works Facility and Public Library were rezoned from Open Space Active to Government and Institutional.
Several Bayside YMCA lots were changed from Open Space Active to Recreation and Education.
Several town-owned parcels were converted from R25 to Conservation.
Several R10 parcels on the fringe of the business zone were rezoned from R10 to NB (Neighborhood Business).
The Sowams Woods property owned by the Barrington Land Conservation Trust was rezoned from Recreation and Education to Open Space Passive.
One lot near the Bayside YMCA was pulled from the package and tabled for future consideration by a 5-0 vote of the councilors. The vote followed a request made by Marc Zawatsky of Half Mile Road, who owns properties adjacent to the YMCA site.
“You are creating a more intensive use,” Zawatsky said of the YMCA property, “surrounded by less intensive use.”
For the complete list of properties that were rezoned, click here and then click on Zoning Map Amendments to see a PDF.