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The following findings are also made as a basis for these regulations:
(A) Middletown has been experiencing ever-increasing pressures for commercial, industrial and residential development. These pressures are in direct confrontation with the town's concern for the general safety, health and welfare of its inhabitants and the preservation of its natural resources. Of particular concern is the impact of future development on traffic, water supply and open space. In an effort to address these concerns by providing reasonable safeguards against inappropriate and potentially injurious development, this chapter has established a Watershed Protection District and Traffic Sensitive Districts and encourages the continued use of land for agricultural purposes, and provides for conservation development for the following reasons.
(B) Middletown is the primary watershed and major storage area for the water supply for the City of Newport and the Town of Middletown. It is essential that this resource be protected against diminution, damage or despoliation. Accordingly, this chapter, in recognition of these vital concerns, has established regulations and limitations with respect to the use and development of areas within the town which impact the watershed and storage areas and which are intended to protect this important resource by establishing a Watershed Protection District.
(C) Middletown suffers from serious traffic problems on its major highways, namely, East and West Main Roads, Valley Road and Aquidneck Avenue. These problems are evidenced by mounting vehicular congestion and an increasing number of accidents. These roads are now overtaxed far beyond their designed capacity and the future development of the town will only compound this situation. It is essential that future access to and egress from these highly congested roads be controlled as much as possible in the interest of public safety. In recognition of this problem, and for the purpose of providing a measure of control, this chapter has established Traffic Sensitive Districts.
(D) Middletown has a long history as an agricultural community with large open spaces which contribute to the beauty, quality of life and ecological balance of the town. It is the utilization of land for agricultural purposes which provides the most practical way of ensuring the preservation of these areas. Accordingly, in an effort to support and encourage the use of land for agricultural purposes to the fullest extent, this chapter establishes an Agricultural District. The fact that no district is specifically identified as an Agricultural District has no significance and the use of land for agricultural purposes shall be considered a primary use in any district.
(E) In recent years, patterns of both residential and commercial development have been inconsistent with historical rural development patterns. Rural development is characterized by large, aggregated, undeveloped land areas; natural features such as woodlands, steep slopes, floodplains, wetlands, stream and river corridors, hedgerows and rock outcroppings, scenic vistas and rural views; significant historic features such as old barns, heritage trees, etc.; and settlement patterns characterized by clusters of compact groupings of development in otherwise wide open spaces and/or appropriate topographic or vegetative screening. Conversely, conventional suburban development converts all buildable land into house lots and streets; except for wetlands, all natural areas are cleared and graded. This type of development does not take into consideration individual characteristics of land including environmental, cultural and historical resources. Conservation development, on the other hand, allows the same number of units as would be allowed under conventional development, but also ensures a significant portion of land is preserved in its natural state; thereby fulfilling the goals of Middletown's Comprehensive Plan.
(Ord. passed 10-30-06; Am. Ord. 08-05, passed 5-19-08)