POLICY 6.  OPEN SPACE AND RECREATION ACQUISITION POLICY
December 5, 2005
I.   Purpose
   This policy establishes the principles and procedures to be used by the Middletown Open Space and Fields Committee (“MOS&FC”) for the review and recommendation to the Town Council of potential acquisition of real property for open space and recreational purposes. In preserving open space, the goal of the town is to preserve land which best meets the criteria listed herein.
   Eligible lands include those parcels in the Town of Middletown which are primarily undeveloped and which consist of open, agricultural, or littoral property, freshwater and saltwater wetlands and adjoining uplands, beaches, wildlife habitats, land providing access to or views of the ocean, harbors and ponds, land for hiking, bicycling and other recreational use, land for agricultural use, and land for watershed protection.
   Acquisitions may include the purchase or donation of fee interests in land, conservation easements or other restrictive easements on real property.
   Any potential acquisition of real property for open space and recreational purposes that is reviewed by the MOS&FC will be ranked by the criteria listed below. This process will ensure that the town gains the greatest benefit from its open space and recreation funds by objectively reviewing proposed land acquisition projects using established criteria. Before a land acquisition project can be ranked, as described below, it must be consistent with the town’s Comprehensive Community Plan.
II.   Project Ranking
   After the initial determination of consistency with the Comprehensive Community Plan is made, each proposed open space project will be ranked by the Open Space and Fields Committee on the following nine criteria:
      1.   Groundwater and watershed protection potential;
      2.   Ecologically significant habitat;
      3.   Proximity to other protected land;
      4.   Farmland preservation;
      5.   Historic/cultural/scenic qualities;
      6.   Size of parcel;
      7.   Potential to offset the impact of residential development;
      8.   Leverage of town funds in project acquisition; and
      9.   Potential for recreational use.
   Each parcel will be evaluated by the nine criteria listed above. For each measure, a point score will be assigned, from 0 to 3. The maximum score will be 27. The point system is intended to establish an objective way to identify the best projects for acquisition or protection. Those projects rating a score of 14 or above will be considered priority projects. Projects rating a score less than 14 may still be considered for acquisition based on exceptional circumstances.
   The final decision to acquire real property for open space or recreation purposes will be made by the Town Council. All recommendations made by the MOS&FC regarding potential land acquisitions are non-binding. Additionally, all negotiations with the MOS&FC are non-binding and the MOS&FC shall have no ability to obligate the town in any manner. A confidentiality agreement shall be signed between any offerer and the MOS&FC prior to commencing any discussions. An option shall be provided for any offerer to donate their respective real property to the Middletown Historical Society. Open space land and recreation acquisition decisions need not follow a strict rank order, as the opportunities to acquire specific land will vary by project.
III.   Jointly Funded Projects
   The Town of Middletown endorses jointly funded projects and will actively participate in projects with other public and private organizations, as such projects will maximize the total amount of protected land and maximize the use of municipal funds.
 
TOWN OF MIDDLETOWN
OPEN SPACE AND RECREATION PROJECT RANKING - POINT SYSTEM
CRITERIA
NUMBER OF POINTS AWARDED
0
1
2
3
Potential to offset impact of development; number of housing units possible
<10
10-50
51-100
Over 100
Size of parcel
<10 acres
10-25 acres
26-50 acres
Over 50 acres
Groundwater and watershed protection
Minimal or none
Low
Medium
High
Ecologically significant habitat
Degraded habitat
Average habitat
Above average habitat
Prime habitat
Proximity to other protected land (distance from parcel to other protected land)
More than 1/2 mile away
1/4 to 1/2 mile
<1/4 mile
Abutting or in linkage area
Leverage of town funds - amount of project funding from town
Over 75%
51 -75%
25 - 50%
<25%
Farmland
None
Inactive farm
Active farm <25 acres
Active farm >25 acres
Historic/cultural/scenic/ neighborhood value
Minimal or none
Low
Medium
High
Potential for recreational use
Minimal or none
Low
Medium
High
 
TOWN OF MIDDLETOWN
OPEN SPACE AND RECREATION PROJECT RANKING
SOURCE OF VALUES USED IN PROJECT RANKING
1.   Potential to Offset Impact of Development - Calculations based on maximum residential dwelling units permitted by current zoning per the applicable provisions of the zoning ordinance and/or subdivision and land development regulations. For land zoned for non-residential purposes, an estimate of the intensity of development shall be used.
2.   Groundwater and Watershed Protection - Parcel contains significant freshwater wetlands or significantly protects public and/or private water supply sources.
3.   Ecologically Significant Habitat - Parcel contains endangered or threatened species or species of state interest or is in close proximity to areas that contain such species. Parcel is contiguous or in close proximity to habitat corridors. Parcel contains unique, unusual, or important wildlife habitat.
4.   Historic/Cultural/Scenic/Neighborhood Value - Parcel has significant historical or cultural value. Parcel has significant scenic views or contains distinctive scenic landscape features. Parcel is adjacent to or in close proximity to neighborhoods that lack significant open space or recreation areas.
5.   Potential for Recreational Use - Parcel contains areas that are suitable for recreational use such as ball fields, trails, areas for swimming, boating, or fishing, or other active or passive recreational activities.
 
REQUEST FOR INFORMATION
The Town of Middletown Open Space and Fields Committee (“MOS&FC”) is seeking to identify properties in Middletown Rhode Island for acquisition by the town for open space and recreational purposes. Acquisitions may include the purchase or donation of fee interests in land conservation easements or development rights. Prospective properties shall be reviewed in accordance with the MOS&FC’s Open Space Acquisition Policy. All communications regarding potential land acquisitions shall be confidential. A copy of said policy along with other terms and conditions and information on how to respond to the Request for Information are available by contacting the Town Clerk, Middletown Town Hall 350 East Main Road, Middletown, RI 02842 or (401) 847-0009.