Notice of Public Hearing:

The public hearing will be held on Thursday, August 26, 2010 during the Town Council’s regularly scheduled meeting which begins at 7:00 PM at The Foster Town House, located at 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI 02825, at which time opportunity will be given to all persons interested in being heard upon the matter of the proposed zoning amendments. Interested persons may obtain a copy of the proposed amendments at the Town Clerk’s Office, Foster Town Hall, 181 Howard Hill Road, Foster, RI during normal business hours (Mon – Thu 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM). The proposed amendments may be altered or amended prior to the close of the public hearing without further advertising, as a result of further study, or because of the views expressed at the public hearing. Any such alteration or amendment must be presented for comment in the course of said Public Hearing.

The public is welcome to any meeting of the Town Council. If communication assistance (readers/interpreters/captions) is needed or any other accommodation to ensure equal participation, please contact the Town Clerk’s Office (401-392-9200) at least two (2) business days prior to the meeting.

By Order of the Foster Town Council,

Tina W. Freeman, CMC, Town Clerk


June 22, 2010


Town of Foster Planning Board

Patti Moreau, Chairperson

181 Howard Hill Road

Foster, RI 02825


Foster Town Council

181 Howard Hill Road

Foster, RI 02825


RE: Proposal to Upgrade Commercial Zoning along Route 6

Dear Town Council Members:

The Foster Planning Board is pleased to present this proposal to the Foster Town Council to upgrade the zoning along Route 6 in Foster. Our proposal represents the results of a project that began more than five (5) years ago.

The Route 6 zoning upgrade committee met once a month on Saturday mornings. All these meetings were advertised and open to the public. Many townspeople participated; for example members of the Planning and Zoning Boards, Conservation Commission, Town Council, Tax Assessor’s Office, Foster Preservation Society, and various State Officials provided input.

Committee members walked the length of Route 6 and reviewed tax assessor’s, topographic, environmental and aerial maps of the area. Two public informational meetings were held for the owners of real estate along Route 6 and the general public, and suggestions from those meetings were incorporated into this proposal.

The purpose of the Route 6 zoning upgrade, as mandated by the Foster Comprehensive Plan, is to encourage commercial development while preserving the rural character of the Foster Community. Specifically, the Comprehensive Plan calls for the creation of "retail commercial development necessary to provide convenient services to Foster residents within the confines of the existing commercial zoned areas. Nodes of activity will be encouraged to prevent strip commercial development." (emphasis added) As called for in the Comprehensive Plan, structures are to reflect the defining features of the Town’s historic architecture, and land use that will not detract from, nor adversely affect the Town’s natural features.

The current Highway Commercial and Neighborhood Commercial zoning along Route 6, created in 1967, consists of 300 to 400 foot wide strips adjacent to the highway. Such zoning leads inevitably to strip malls, multiple entrances onto a major highway, and unsafe traffic circulation patterns. This zoning:

  1. No longer provides support for existing businesses;
  2. No longer provides protection for agricultural-residential properties; and
  3. Does not address environmental concerns.

This particular type of zoning does not encourage business development and needs to be upgraded to the meet the current needs of the Town.

In the new proposal, Neighborhood Commercial and Highway Commercial zoning along the Route 6 corridor will be replaced by several General Business/Mixed Use zones (nodes). Mixed Use is a mixture of permitted land uses within a single development, building, or tract. Permitted land uses include residential, agricultural, commercial, and recreational. Three General Business / Mixed Use zones (nodes) along Route 6 have been designated for potential development and an additional four zones (nodes) have been identified for possible future development. These nodes all meet the following criteria:

  1. Large lot size;
  2. Safe access (ingress and egress);
  3. Buildable area of land;
  4. Environmental suitability; and
  5. Ability to accommodate such mixed use.

All of the above referenced nodes, together with existing commercial properties, will form the core of Foster’s business community. Existing commercial properties, including those not in designated nodes will be zoned so that that entire property will be commercial. All other properties along Route 6 will be zoned according to their existing use.

Properties developed under General Business/ Mixed Use zoning will incorporate design standards that will promote safe circulation and visual attractiveness, including:

  1. Access;
  2. Parking
  3. Lighting
  4. Utilities
  5. Signage

Building facades will reflect the Town’s historic architecture. Landscaping will be consistent and complimentary with the natural features. The Planning Board will take on the task to create design standards for future development.

Amendment Summary:

The proposed amendments to the Foster Zoning Map and the Foster Zoning Ordinance regarding the Route 6 Corridor Zoning Upgrade; the amendments shall occur to parcels along the Route 6 Corridor west of Rams Tail Road as follows:

1) All parcels along Route 6 that are currently zoned Agricultural / Residential will maintain that Agricultural / Residential designation; and

2) All parcels along Route 6 that are currently zoned Neighborhood Commercial or Highway Commercial, and are currently used as a private residence will be re-zoned Agricultural / Residential – as that is their current use; and

3) All parcels, or portions thereof, along Route 6, that are designated as Neighborhood Commercial or Highway Commercial, and are currently being used commercially shall keep their commercial designation and the whole parcel will be re-zoned General Business / Mixed Use designation; and

4) Parcels, or portions thereof, along Route 6, that are designated as Neighborhood Commercial or Highway Commercial that are currently vacant, and have environmental constraints to development, will be re-zoned to Agricultural / Residential; and

5) All parcels along the Route 6 Corridor will now have only one zoning designation; and

6) The Highway Commercial designation will cease to exist, and shall be replaced with a General Business Mixed Use designation; and

7) The Neighborhood Commercial designation, along Route 6 only, shall be replaced with the General Business / Mixed Use designation;

8) There will be wording changes to the Foster Zoning Ordinance to accommodate the above amendments.

Required Changes to the Foster Zoning Ordinance to Accommodate Route 6 Zoning Upgrade

Article I. Statement of Purpose

No changes are required for this particular section of the zoning ordinance.

Article II. Definitions (pages 3 through 10)

(NOTE: The following definition shall be added to the Foster Zoning Ordinance – Article II "Definitions"; #49A; on page 7 of the current ordinance, and #61. Mixed Use shall be changed to the following wording)

49A. General Business - Mixed Use Development

Is a planned, coordinated development of a single tract or tracts of land with one or more buildings for a variety of uses. These may include retail, service, office and related activities, residential and municipal uses. Such development is planned, designed, constructed and managed on an integrated and coordinated basis with particular attention given to on-site vehicular circulation, parking, utility needs, building design and location, and open space. The project is developed or controlled by a single proprietary entity and has an enforceable master plan and/or covenants, conditions and restrictions. The development may consist of one or more parcels, condominium ownership, or a combination thereof and may contain public roads.

61. Mixed Use

A land use where more than one classification of land use (residential, commercial,

recreational) is permitted within a zoning district and is combined on a single tract or tracts of land, or within a single structure.

Article III. Zoning Districts (pages 11 through 13)

(NOTE: The following zoning district shall replace Section 3. HC – Highway/Commercial under Article III "Zoning Districts" on page 11 of the current ordinance).

(NOTE: Section 3. HC-Highway/Commercial shall no longer exist within the Foster Zoning Ordinance.)

Section 3. GBM -General Business - Mixed Use

This district is characterized by commercial establishments that serve town-wide shopping and service needs, such as retail businesses, offices, and restaurants. This district may also include compatible residential and municipal uses. It is designed to encourage planned development resulting in a sustainable and attractive commercial

environment for the community.

Article IV. Zone Regulations (pages 15 through 24)

(NOTE: The designation of HC shall be replaced by the designation GBM {General Business-Mixed Use}

(NOTE: A more detailed listing for the use chart under Article IV is attached hereto and incorporated herein by reference thereto.)

Article IV Section 13 Dimensional Regulations (page 22 of current ordinance)

Subsection C. HC – Highway Commercial District shall be replaced by the following:

C. GBM – General Business Mixed Use

Minimum Lot Size 200,000 square feet

Minimum Front Yard Depth 50 feet

Minimum Lot Frontage 300 feet

Minimum Lot Width 300 feet

Minimum Side Yard Depth 50 feet

Minimum Rear Yard Depth 80 feet

Maximum Building Height 35 feet

Minimum Buffer Strip 30 feet

Minimum Distance of Structure

from a A/R Zoning District 50 feet

Maximum Building Coverage 10,000 square feet**

*No parking, no signs (temporary or permanent, fixed or movable) or structures (other than mailboxes) are permitted within 30 feet of the highway right-of-way line (i.e., the edge of the highway)

**Provided that all parking and design requirements are met.

Article V. Nonconforming Use

No changes are required for this particular section of the zoning ordinance.

Article VI. Supplementary Regulations (page 28 through 46)

Section 8. Number of Residential Structures Per Lot (pg 29 of ordinance)

No more than one (1) main residential structure shall be permitted on a lot except as may be permitted under the provisions of Article VI, Section 13 "Senior Citizens Group Housing" and Article VIII, Section 3, "Development Standards for General Business Mixed Use Development" (NOTE: this wording is to be added as written.

Maps Posted For Public Viewing:

Copies of the current zoning map and the proposed zoning map are posted for viewing at the Foster Town Hall during normal business hours; a list of all proposed amendments to the Foster Zoning Ordinance is available for review at the Foster Town Hall during normal business hours. (Mon – Thu 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.)