Towns and cities
Soil Erosion and Sediment Control
§ 45-46-5 Model ordinance Soil
erosion and sediment control.
Section 1. Purpose.
(a) The (city or town) council finds that excessive
quantities of soil are eroding from certain areas that are undergoing
development for non agricultural uses such as housing developments, industrial
areas, recreational facilities, and roads. This erosion makes necessary costly
repairs to gullies, washed out fills, roads, and embankments. The resulting
sediment clogs the storm sewers and road ditches, muddies streams, leaves
deposits of silt in ponds and reservoirs, and is considered a major water
(b) The purpose of this ordinance is to prevent soil erosion
and sedimentation from occurring as a result of non agricultural development
within the city or town by requiring proper provisions for water disposal, and
the protection of soil surfaces during and after construction, in order to
promote the safety, public health, and general welfare of the city or town.
Section 1. Applicability.
This ordinance is applicable to any situation involving any
disturbance to the terrain, topsoil or vegetative ground cover upon any
property within the city or town of ]]]]]]]] after determination of
applicability by the building official or his or her designee based upon
criteria outlined in article III. Compliance with the requirements as described
in this ordinance shall not be construed to relieve the owner/applicant of any
obligations to obtain necessary state or federal permits.
Section 1. Determination of applicability.
(a)(1) It is unlawful for any person to disturb any existing
vegetation, grades, and contours of land in a manner which may increase the
potential for soil erosion, without first applying for a determination of
applicability from the building official or his or her designee. Upon
determination of applicability, the owner/applicant shall submit a soil erosion
and sediment control plan for approval by the building official or his or her
designee, as provided in article IV. The application for determination of
applicability shall describe the location, nature, character, and time schedule
of the proposed land disturbing activity in sufficient detail to allow the
building official or his or her designee to determine the potential for soil
erosion and sedimentation resulting from the proposed project. In determining
the applicability of the soil erosion and sediment control ordinance to a
particular land disturbing activity, the building official or his or her
designee shall consider site topography, drainage patterns, soils, proximity to
watercourses, and other information deemed appropriate by the building official
or his or her designee. A particular land disturbing activity shall not be
subject to the requirements of this ordinance if the building official or his
or her designee finds that erosion resulting from the land disturbing activity
is insignificant and represents no threat to adjacent properties or to the
quality of any coastal feature or watercourse, as defined in Article IX. The
current "Rhode Island Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook," U.S.
department of agriculture soil conservation service, R.I. department of
environmental management, and R.I. state conservation committee shall be
consulted in making this determination.
(2) This ordinance shall not apply to existing quarrying
operations actively engaged in excavating rock but shall apply to sand and
gravel extraction operations.
(b) No determination of applicability is required for the
(1) Construction, alteration, or use of any additions to
existing single family or duplex homes or related structures; provided, that
the grounds coverage of addition is less than one thousand (1,000) square feet,
and construction, alteration and use does not occur within one hundred (100')
feet of any watercourse or coastal feature, and the slopes at the site of land
disturbance do not exceed ten percent (10%).
(2) Use of a home garden in association with onsite
(3) Accepted agricultural management practices such as
seasonal tilling and harvest activities associated with property utilized for
private and/or commercial agricultural or silvacultural purposes.
(4) Excavations for improvements other than those described
in subsection (b)(1) of this section which exhibit all of the following
(i) Does not result in a total displacement of more than
fifty (50) cubic yards of material;
(ii) Has no slopes steeper than ten feet (10') vertical in
one hundred feet (100') horizontal or approximately ten percent (10%); and
(iii) Has all disturbed surface areas promptly and
effectively protected to prevent soil erosion and sedimentation.
(5) Grading, as a maintenance measure, or for landscaping
purposes on existing developed land parcels or lots; provided, that all bare
surface is immediately seeded, sodded or otherwise protected from erosive
actions, and all of the following conditions are met:
(i) The aggregate area of activity does not exceed two
thousand (2,000) square feet; and
(ii) The change of elevation does not exceed two feet (2') at
any point; and
(iii) The grading does not involve a quantity of fill greater
than eighteen (18) cubic yards; except where fill is excavated from another
portion of the same parcel and the quantity does not exceed fifty (50) cubic
(6) Grading, filling, removal, or excavation activities and
operations undertaken by the city or town under the direction and supervision
of the director of public works for work on streets, roads, or rights-of-ways
dedicated to public use; provided, that adequate and acceptable erosion and
sediment controls are incorporated, in engineering plans and specifications,
and employed. Appropriate controls apply during construction as well as after
the completion of these activities. All work shall be undertaken in accordance
with the performance principles provided for in Article V, Section 1(c) and the
standards and definitions that may be adopted to implement the performance
Section 1. Provisions of plan Procedures.
(1) To obtain approval for a land disturbing activity as
found applicable by the building official or his or her designee under article
III, an applicant shall first file an erosion and sediment control plan signed
by the owner of the property, or authorized agent, on which the work subject to
approval is to be performed. The plan or drawings, as described in article V,
shall include proposed erosion and sediment control measures to be employed by
the applicant or the applicant's agent.
(2) R.I. Freshwater Wetlands Permit: Where any portion of a
proposed development requires approval under any provision of the general laws
approved by the general assembly or where the approval contains provisions for
soil erosion and sediment controls, that approved plan shall be a component of
the overall soil erosion and sediment control plan required under this
ordinance for the development.
The city or town adopting this ordinance may collect fair and
reasonable fees from each applicant requesting approval of a soil erosion and
sediment control plan for the purposes of administering this ordinance.
(c) Plan review.
(1) Within five (5) working days of the receipt of a
completed plan, the building official or his or her designee shall send a copy
of the plan to the review authorities which may include the public works
department, the planning board or planning department, and conservation
commission for the purpose of review and comment. The building official or his
or her designee may also, within five (5) working days, submit copies of the
plan to other local departments or agencies, including the conservation
district that services their county, in order to better achieve the purposes of
this chapter. Failure of these review authorities to respond within twenty-one
(21) days of their receipt of the plan shall be deemed as no objection to the
plan as submitted.
(2) The time allowed for plan review shall be commensurate
with the proposed development project, and shall be done simultaneously with
(d) Plan approval.
(1) The building official or his or her designee shall take
action in writing, either approving or disapproving the plan, with reasons
stated within ten (10) days after the building official has received the
written opinion of the review authorities.
(2) In approving a plan, the building official or his or her
designee may attach conditions deemed reasonably necessary by the review
authorities to further the purposes of this ordinance. The conditions
pertaining to erosion and sediment control measures and/or devices, may
include, but are not limited to, the erection of walls, drains, dams, and
structures, planting vegetation, trees and shrubs, furnishings, necessary
easements, and specifying a method of performing various kinds of work, and the
sequence or timing of the work. The applicant/owner shall notify the building
inspector, or his or her designee, in advance of his or her intent to begin
clearing and construction work described in the erosion and sediment control
plan. The applicant shall have the erosion and sediment control plan on the
site during grading and construction.
(1) Administrative procedures: (A) If the ruling made by the
building official or his or her designee is unsatisfactory to the
applicant/owner, the applicant/owner may file a written appeal. The appeal of
plans for soil erosion and sediment control shall be to the zoning board of
review or other appropriate board of review, as determined by the city or town
(B) Appeal procedures shall follow current requirements for
appeal to the above-mentioned boards.
(C) During the period in which the request for appeal is
filed, and until the time that a final decision is rendered on the appeal, the
decision of the building official or his or her designee remains in effect.
(2) Expert opinion: The official, or his or her designee, the
zoning board of review, or other board of review, may seek technical assistance
on any soil erosion and sediment control plan. The expert opinion must be made
available in the office of the building official, or his or her designee, as a
public record prior to the appeals hearing.
Section 1. Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Plan.
(a) Plan preparation.
The erosion and sediment control plan shall be prepared by a
registered engineer, or landscape architect or a soil and water conservation
society certified erosion and sediment control specialist, and copies of the
plan shall be submitted to the building official or his or her designee.
(b) Plan contents.
The erosion and sediment control plan shall include
sufficient information about the proposed activities and land parcels to form a
clear basis for discussion and review and to assure compliance with all
applicable requirements of this chapter. The plan shall be consistent with the
data collection, data analysis, and plan preparation guidelines in the current
"Rhode Island Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook," prepared by the U.S.
department of agriculture, soil conservation service, R.I. department of
environmental management, R.I. state conservation committee, and at a minimum,
(1) A narrative describing the proposed land disturbing
activity and the soil erosion and sediment control measures and stormwater
management measures to be installed to control erosion that could result from
the proposed activity. Supporting documentation, such as a drainage area,
existing site, and soil maps shall be provided as required by the building
official or his or her designee.
(2) Construction drawings illustrating in detail existing and
proposed contours, drainage features, and vegetation; limits of clearing and
grading, the location of soil erosion and sediment control and stormwater
management measures, detail drawings of measures; stock piles and borrow areas;
sequence and staging of land disturbing activities; and other information
needed for construction.
(3) Other information or construction plans and details as
deemed necessary by the building official or his or her designee for a thorough
review of the plan prior to action being taken as prescribed in this chapter.
Withholding or delay of information may be reasons for the building official or
his or her designee to judge the application as incomplete and providing
grounds for disapproval of the application.
(c) Performance principles.
The contents of the erosion and sediment control plan shall
clearly demonstrate how the principles, outlined in this subsection, have been
met in the design and are to be accomplished by the proposed development
(1) The site selected shall show due regard for natural
drainage characteristics and topography.
(2) To the extent possible, steep slopes shall be avoided.
(3) The grade of created slopes shall be minimized.
(4) Post development runoff rates should not exceed pre
development rates, consistent with other stormwater requirements which may be
in effect. Any increase in storm runoff shall be retained and recharged as
close as feasible to its place of origin by means of detention ponds or basins,
seepage areas, subsurface drains, porous paving, or similar technique.
(5) Original boundaries, alignment, and slope of watercourses
within the project locus shall be preserved to the greatest extent feasible.
(6) In general, drainage shall be directed away from
structures intended for human occupancy, municipal or utility use, or similar
(7) All drainage provisions shall be of a design and capacity
so as to adequately handle stormwater runoff, including runoff from tributary
upstream areas which may be outside the locus of the project.
(8) Drainage facilities shall be installed as early as
feasible during construction, prior to site clearance, if possible.
(9) Fill located adjacent to watercourses shall be suitably
protected from erosion by means of riprap, gabions, retaining walls, vegetative
stabilization, or similar measures.
(10) Temporary vegetation and/or mulching shall be used to
protect bare areas and stockpiles from erosion during construction; the
smallest areas feasible shall be exposed at any one time; disturbed areas shall
be protected during the non growing months, November through March.
(11) Permanent vegetation shall be placed immediately
following fine grading.
(12) Trees and other existing vegetation shall be retained
whenever feasible; the area within the dripline shall be fenced or roped off to
protect trees from construction equipment.
(13) All areas damaged during construction shall be resodded,
reseeded, or otherwise restored. Monitoring and maintenance schedules, where
required, shall be predetermined.
(d) Existing uses and facilities.
(1) The building official and/or his or her designee shall
accept plans for existing uses and facilities which by their nature may cause
erosion and sedimentation, such as excavation and quarrying operations;
provided, that this section shall not apply to article III, section 1(a)(1).
Plans or satisfactory evidence to demonstrate that the existing operations
accomplish the objectives of the section shall be submitted to the building
official and/or his/her designee within one hundred twenty (120) days from the
date of the determination of applicability. Implementation of the plan shall be
initiated upon approval of the plan.
(2) When the preexisting use is a gravel extraction
operation, the property owner shall conduct the operation in a manner so as not
to devalue abutting properties; to protect abutting property from wind erosion
and soil erosion due to increased runoff, sedimentation of reservoirs, and
drainage systems; and to limit the depth of extraction so as not to interfere
with the existing nearby water table.
ARTICLE VI. Enforcement.
Section 1. Performance bond.
(a) Performance bond.
(1) Before approving an erosion sediment control plan, the
building official or his or her designee may require the applicant/owner to
file a surety company performance bond, deposit of money, negotiable
securities, or other method of surety, as specified by the building official or
his or her designee. When any land disturbing activity is to take place within
one hundred feet (100') of any watercourse or coastal feature or within an
identified flood hazard district, or on slopes in excess of ten percent (10%),
the filing of a performance bond shall be required. The amount of the bond, as
determined by the public works department, or in its absence, the building
official or his or her designee, shall be sufficient to cover the cost of
implementing all erosion and sediment control measures as shown on the plan.
(2) The bond or negotiable security filed by the applicant
shall be subject to approval of the form, content, amount, and manner of
execution by the public works director and the city or town solicitor.
(3) A performance bond for an erosion sediment control plan
for a subdivision may be included in the performance bond of the subdivision.
The posting of the bond as part of the subdivision performance bond does not,
however, relieve the owner of any requirements of this ordinance.
(b) Notice of default on performance secured by bond.
(1) Whenever the building official or his or her designee
finds that a default has occurred in the performance of any terms or conditions
of the bond or in the implementation of measures secured by the bond, written
notice shall be made to the applicant and to the surety of the bond by the
municipal solicitor. The notice shall state the nature of default, work to be
done, the estimated cost, and the period of time deemed by the building
official or his or her designee to be reasonably necessary for the completion
of the work.
(2) Failure of the applicant to acknowledge and comply with
the provisions and deadlines outlined in the notice of default means the
institution, by the city or town solicitor, without further notice of
proceedings whatsoever, of appropriate measures to utilize the performance
bond, to cause the required work to be completed by the city or town, by
contract or by other appropriate means as determined by the city or town
(c) Notice of default on performance secured by cash or
negotiable securities deposit.
If a cash or negotiable securities deposit has been posted by
the applicant, notice and procedure are the same as provided for in subsection
(b) of this section.
(d) Release from performance bond conditions.
The performance bonding requirement shall remain in full
force and effect for twelve (12) months following completion of the project, or
longer if deemed necessary by the building official or his or her designee.
Section 2. Approval Expiration Renewal.
(a) Every approval granted in this ordinance shall expire at
the end of the time period established in the conditions. The developer shall
fully perform and complete all of the work required within the specified time
(b) If the developer is unable to complete the work within
the designated time period, he or she shall, at least thirty (30) days prior to
the expiration date, submit a written request for an extension of time to the
building official or his or her designee, stating the underlying reasons for
the requested time extension. If the extension is warranted, the building
official or his or her designee may grant an extension of time up to a maximum
of one year from the date of the original deadline. Subsequent extensions under
the same conditions may be granted at the discretion of the building official.
Section 3. Maintenance of measures.
Maintenance of all erosion sediment control devices under
this ordinance shall be the responsibility of the owner. The erosion sediment
control devices shall be maintained in good condition and working order on a
continuing basis. Watercourses originating and located completely on private
property shall be the responsibility of the owner to their point of open
discharge at the property line or at a communal watercourse within the property.
Section 4. Liability of applicant.
Neither approval of an erosion and sediment control plan nor
compliance with any condition of this chapter shall relieve the owner/applicant
from any responsibility for damage to persons or property, nor impose any
liability upon the city or town for damages to persons or property.
Section 1. Inspections.
(a) Periodic inspections.
The provisions of this ordinance shall be administered and
enforced by the building official or his or her designee. All work shall be
subject to periodic inspections by the building official, or his or her
designee. All work shall be performed in accordance with an inspection and
construction control schedule approved by the building official or his or her
designee, who shall maintain a permanent file on all of his or her inspections.
Upon completion of the work, the developer or owner shall notify the building
official or his or her designee that all grading, drainage, erosion and
sediment control measures and devices, and vegetation and ground cover planting
has been completed in conformance with the approval, all attached plans,
specifications, conditions, and other applicable provisions of this ordinance.
(b) Final inspection.
(1) Upon notification of the completion by the owner, the
building official or his or her designee shall make a final inspection of the
site in question, and shall prepare a final summary inspection report of its
findings which shall be retained in the department of inspections, and in the
department of public works' permanent inspections file.
(2) The applicant/owner may request the release of his or her
performance bond from the building official or his or her designee twelve (12)
months after the final site inspection has been completed and approved. In the
instance where the performance bond has been posted with the recording of a
final subdivision, the bond shall be released after the building official or
his or her designee has been notified by the city or town planning director of
successful completion of all plat improvements by the applicant/owner.
ARTICLE VIII. Notification.
Section 1. Noncompliance.
If, at any stage, the work in progress and/or completed under
the terms of an approved erosion and sediment control plan does not conform to
the plan, a written notice from the building official or his or her designee to
comply shall be transmitted by certified mail to the owner. The notice shall
state the nature of the temporary and permanent corrections required, and the
time limit within which corrections shall be completed as established in
section 2(b) of this article. Failure to comply with the required corrections
within the specified time limit is considered a violation of this ordinance, in
which case the performance bond or cash or negotiable securities deposit is
subject to notice of default, in accordance with sections 1(b) and 1(c) of
Section 2. Penalties.
(a) Revocation or suspension of approval.
The approval of an erosion and sediment control plan under
this chapter may be revoked or suspended by the building official and all work
on the project halted for an indefinite time period by the building official
after written notification is transmitted by the building official to the
developer for one or more of the following reasons:
(1) Violation of any condition of the approved plan, or
specifications pertaining to it;
(2) Violation of any provision of this ordinance or any other
applicable law, ordinance, rule, or regulation related to the work or site of
(3) The existence of any condition or the performance of any
act constituting or creating a nuisance, hazard, or endangerment to human life
or the property of others, or contrary to the spirit or intent of this
(b) Other penalties.
In addition, whenever there is a failure to comply with the
provisions of this ordinance, the city or town has the right to notify the
applicant/owner that he or she has five (5) days from the receipt of notice to
temporarily correct the violations and thirty (30) days from receipt of notice
to permanently correct the violations. Should the applicant owner fail to take
the temporary corrective measures within the five (5) day period and the
permanent corrective measures within the thirty (30) day period, the city or
town then has the right to take whatever actions it deems necessary to correct
the violations and to assert a lien on the subject property in an amount equal
to the costs of remedial actions. The lien shall be enforced in the manner
provided or authorized by law for the enforcement of common law liens on
personal property. The lien shall be recorded with the records of land evidence
of the municipality, and the lien does incur legal interest from the date of
recording. The imposition of any penalty shall not exempt the offender from
compliance with the provisions of this ordinance, including revocation of the
performance bond or assessment of a lien on the property by the city or town.
(c) In addition to any other penalties provided in this
section, a city or town is authorized and empowered to provide by local
ordinance for penalties and/or fines of not more than two hundred fifty dollars
($250) for failure to submit plans on or before the date on which the plan must
be submitted, as stated in the determination of applicability. Each day that
the plan is not submitted constitutes a separate offense.
Section 1. Definition of selected terms.
(a) Applicant: Any persons, corporation, or public or
private organization proposing a development which would involve disturbance to
the natural terrain as defined in this ordinance.
(b) Coastal feature: Coastal beaches and dunes,
barrier beaches, coastal wetlands, coastal cliffs, bluffs, and banks, rocky
shores, and manmade shorelines as defined in "The State of Rhode Island Coastal
Resources Management Program" as amended June 28, 1983.
(c) Cut: An excavation. The difference between a point
on the original ground and a designated point of lower elevation on the final
grade. Also, the material removed in excavation.
(d) Development project: Any construction,
reconstruction, demolition, or removal of structures, roadways, parking, or
other paved areas, utilities, or other similar facilities, including any action
requiring a building permit by the city or town.
(e) Erosion: The removal of mineral and/or organic
matter by the action of wind, water, and/or gravity.
(f) Excavate: Any act by which earth, sand, gravel, or
any other similar material is dug into, cut, removed, displaced, relocated, or
bulldozed, and includes the resulting conditions.
(g) Fill: Any act by which earth, sand, or other
material is placed or moved to a new location above ground. The fill is also
the difference in elevation between a point of existing undisturbed ground and
a designated point of higher elevation of the final grade.
(h) Land disturbing activity: Any physical land
development activity which includes such actions as clearance of vegetation,
moving or filling of land, removal or excavation of soil or mineral resources,
or similar activities.
(i) Runoff: The surface water discharge or rate of
discharge of a given watershed after a fall of rain or snow, and including
seepage flows that do not enter the soil but run off the surface of the land.
Also, that portion of water that is not absorbed by the soil, but runs off the
(j) Sediment: Solid material, both mineral and/or
organic, that is in suspension, is being transported, or has been moved from
its site or origin by wind, water, and/or gravity as a product of erosion.
(k) Soil erosion and sediment control plan: The
approved document required before any person may cause a disturbance to the
natural terrain within the city or town as regulated by this ordinance. Also,
referred to as erosion and sediment control plan, approved plan.
(l) Watercourse: The term watercourse means any
tidewater or coastal wetland at its mean high water level, and any freshwater
wetland at its seasonal high water level, including, but not limited to, any
river, stream, brook, pond, lake, swamp, marsh bog, fen, wet meadow, or any
other standing or flowing body of water. The edge of the watercourse shall be
used for delineation purposes.
History of Section.
(P.L. 1982, ch. 287, § 1; P.L. 1990, ch. 261, § 1; P.L. 1991, ch.
152, § 1; P.L. 1991, ch. 334, § 1; P.L. 1991, ch. 354, § 8; P.L.
1999, ch. 354, § 51.)