2/22/23 City Council Debrief

This past Wednesday’s City Council meeting covered a range of topics that addressed a number of important issues ranging from supporting state legislation banning assault rifles, street safety, sidewalk cafes, and planning board applications received in 2023; among other topics.

Here are the results of those topics we thought were worthy of highlighting.

At the beginning of the session, there was a presentation of the Certificate of Acceptance to City Council from the A.A.R.P. R.I. Chapter for accepting the Newport For All Ages Action Plan.

Public Hearings

Zoning Ordinances

The following amendments were required to bring the Zoning Ordinances into conformity with the enabling state legislation. Per the Zoning Enabling Act a quorum is considered to be four (4) members of the board instead of five (5) members.

Amendment to City Charter 17.112.030 “Zoning board of review-Composition” removes the statement that board members are required to hold office until a successor is chosen. Council voted to unanimously approve the first reading of the 17.112.030 amendment.

Amendment to City Charter 17.112.040 “Zoning board of review-Powers and duties” – include information on petitions filed prior to and after January 1, 2023. Council voted unanimously to approve the first reading of the 17.112.040 amendment

Capital Improvement Program (CIP) FY 2024-2028 

Submittal of the planning document that will be used to assist in forming the annual budget and provides details on various public health and safety projects.

Public comment was heard regarding the road improvement category in the CIP and the horrible conditions of the city’s streets and sidewalks. There are 100 miles of streets and 80 miles of sidewalks in Newport. During FY’s 22 and 21 no streets were resurfaced due to COVID. 

The following information was provided on how much of the city’s street and sidewalks were resurfaced over the last five (5) years:

  • FY20 – 2.1 miles; 
  • FY19 – 2.0 miles; 
  • FY18 1.5 miles

Council unanimously approved all the following resolutions:

  1. State of RI H5300 Relating to Criminal Offenses: This resolution will state the City Council is in support of the Assault Weapons Act, which “would ban the possession, sale, and transfer of assault weapons”.
  2. Street Safety: This resolution is in support of improving street safety through policing and enforcement by developing plans that will increase the level of enforcement, use of automated traffic speed enforcement systems, and return of the bicycle based street patrols. Councilor McCalla recommended a workshop be held on this item to ensure that the residents’ questions and concerns are addressed.
  3. Earth Day Celebration: The resolution declares the week of April 22-29, 2023 for the Earth Day 2023 Celebration and Aquidneck Island Earth Week (AIEW).

Council discussed the following ordinances:

  • Two Tier Tax Classification (Second Reading): Amending section 4.08.120 to include information on active-duty military members and owner-occupied two unit homes that are not used for rentals.
    • Councilor Carlin asked the question if three-family homes that are only occupied by family are eligible for the tax deduction, which it is not.
    • Six (6) council members voted to approve this ordinance and Councilor Carlin voted to oppose it.
  • Sidewalk Cafes: Amending Chapter 5.98-TBD to include a new section on Street Cafes that would detail street cafés will only be permitted from the intersections of Gould to Farewell Street on Broadway to follow the standards set forth in this chapter and would require a permit.
    • This item was unanimously voted to continue.
  • Planning Board: Amending Chapter 2.68.020 Composition-Officers-Compensation-Meetings that would add a statement that petitions filed after January 1, 2023 would require a vote for approval by the majority of the members that are present at the time for application requests on land and subdivision development.
    • This item was unanimously voted to be approved.

The City Manager updated the Council on the following items:

  • Short Term Rentals (STRs): Newport currently has 319 registered STRs, and the State has 311 registered. Of that 311 registered, there are 111 STRs that are not registered with the City of Newport and the City will be pursuing those to ensure they conform toNewport’s municipal registration requirements.
  • Two Tiered Tax Application Process: Reminder that residents have until March 15, 2023 to submit their application for those eligible for the program.

The next Newport City Council meeting will be on Wednesday, March 8, 2023 at 6:30 pm in the Council Chambers on the 2nd floor of City Hall.

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