Title 42
State Affairs and Government

Chapter 45
Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission

R.I. Gen. Laws 42-45-5



 42-45-5.  Powers and duties.


(a) The commission shall:

(1) Establish criteria for evaluating historical, architectural, or cultural sites, buildings, places, landmarks, or areas so as to determine their value in terms of national, state, or local importance and to adjudge their worthiness for inclusion in the state register;

(2) Compile, maintain, and publish a state register of historical, architectural, and cultural sites, buildings, places, landmarks, and areas which shall be revised every two (2) years. The state, a city or town, or any subdivision or instrumentality thereof shall not undertake, fund, or license any activity which will encroach upon, damage, or destroy, physically, visually, or environmentally, any site, building, place, landmark, or area included in the state register without first obtaining the advice of the historical preservation and heritage commission. The commission shall advise the party proposing an activity affecting any item in the state register of its opinion in writing, together with any maps, drawings, photographs, or material necessary to explain or support its advisory. If a written advisory is not given within sixty (60) days of receipt of notice of a proposed activity, the commission shall be deemed to approve the proposal. If more than sixty (60) days are needed to evaluate a proposed activity and render an advisory, arrangements for a reasonable extension shall be made by the commission and the party proposing the activity. Advisories rendered by the commission on any proposed activity affecting an item on the state register shall be followed unless there are compelling reasons for not doing so. In these cases, a statement of the reasons, together with a copy of the commission's advisory, shall be submitted to the governor for final determination;

(3) (i) Assist and advise the department of administration and other appropriate agencies designated by the governor in preparing that element or elements of the state guide plan dealing with plans and programs for the preservation of historic sites and structures.

(ii) There shall also be included in such state guide plan a program for preservation of historic landscapes, and state land-use planning which shall consider the impact of land-use on historic landscapes. To assist in preparation of those elements of the state guide plan dealing with the preservation of historic landscapes, the commission shall prepare and maintain a statewide inventory of historic landscapes.

(4) Prepare statewide plans or programs for the preservation of sites or structures included in the state register which shall list the methods, practices, and procedures to be used in preserving or according recognition to sites or buildings. The plans or programs shall be a part of the state guide plan;

(5) Cause to be prepared plaques or markers made of some suitable material to be erected on, or affixed to with the permission of the owner, in a conspicuous place, those sites or buildings determined worthy of inclusion in the state register;

(6) Acquire or receive, by purchase, gift, or otherwise, with the approval of the governor in the case of a gift and in accordance with chapter 6 of title 37 in other cases, land or any interest in land and/or buildings which have been designated in the state register for the purpose of preserving the land and/or buildings; hold and maintain them, and give custody of the acquisitions for the purpose of preserving, maintaining, or exhibiting them to qualified nonprofit organizations with due regard for the interest of the state and the public in the property;

(7) Grant or loan funds to towns or cities or private groups of funds made available therefor by the state or federal government, for the purpose of acquiring, restoring, relocating, or otherwise preserving land or buildings designated in the state register;

(8) Receive on behalf of the state such grants or loans as may be made by the federal government or by private persons or groups for the purposes of this chapter, and it shall be the designated agency of the state in applying for these grants;

(9) Inventory and catalog all buildings, sites, objects, and artifacts of historical, architectural, or archaeological interest which are within the custody or jurisdiction of the departments and agencies of state government. This inventory and catalog shall include buildings, ruins, and other structures, monuments, paintings, photographs, flags, furniture, clothing, military equipment and uniforms, archaeological materials, and all other articles of historic, architectural, or archaeological interest. All departments and agencies will assist the commission in making this inventory and catalog. The commission shall inform each department and agency of those items contained in the inventory which are within its custody or jurisdiction by furnishing copies of the catalog or an extract thereof to each department and agency concerned. Copies of all amendments to the catalog, or extracts thereof, shall also be furnished to each department and agency concerned;

(10) Advise the department and agencies of state government of the appropriateness, suitability, proper procedures, and other safeguards which should be observed in preserving, displaying, or using items contained in the catalog of articles of historic, architectural, or archaeological interest. When notified of any proposal to physically alter, change the location or method of storage, or change the manner of utilization or public accessibility, or to otherwise significantly affect any item listed in the catalog, the commission shall advise the responsible agency in writing, accompanied by any maps, drawings, photographs, or other explanatory material necessary. If a written advisory is not given within sixty (60) days of receipt of a notice of proposed action, the commission shall be deemed to approve the proposal. If more than sixty (60) days are needed to evaluate a proposal and render an advisory, arrangements for a reasonable extension shall be made by the commission and the department or agency concerned. Advisories given by the commission in accordance with this section shall be followed by the department or agency concerned unless there are compelling reasons for not doing so. In these cases, a statement of the reasons, together with a copy of the commission's advisory, shall be submitted to the governor for determination;

(11) Survey the use or occupancy of all state-owned buildings or sites which are of historic, architectural, or archaeological interest. The commission shall make recommendations to the director of administration concerning the appropriate use and availability of public access of each building and site, so that these may be utilized and displayed in a manner in keeping with their historic, architectural, or archaeological value;

(12) Appoint a state review board from among its own members and such other persons as it may desire, one of whom shall possess the background and qualifications of an historian, one of whom shall be an architect or architectural historian, and one of whom shall be an archaeologist as required by the office of archaeology and historic preservation in the national park service. The state review board shall approve nominations to the state and national registers of historic places, approve the removal of properties from either register, and otherwise act in an advisory capacity to the historical preservation and heritage commission;

(13) To implement a state-owned historic properties program, to provide technical assistance to agencies with jurisdiction over historic properties, and review proposed alterations to state-owned historic properties; the commission shall develop in conjunction herewith the educational materials to implement these programs;

(14) To reorganize the operation of and assume the supervisory responsibility for the following structures: the old State House, Benefit Street arsenal, Stephen Hopkins house (Providence), Bristol court house (Bristol), Kent County court house (East Greenwich). For purposes of this subdivision, the commission shall appoint from its own members a historic sites division which shall implement the duties of this subdivision;

(15) To promote heritage by sponsoring and or coordinating heritage festivals; conducting and/or sponsoring heritage seminars, conferences, and symposiums; publishing scholarly and popular works relating to the social, political, and cultural development of the state; coordinating programs with other private or public groups or agencies which will meet the cultural needs of Rhode Island's citizens; observing important events in the state's history with suitable celebrations; and funding projects and programs of public or private groups or agencies which relate to the heritage of Rhode Island and its people;

(16) To conduct a training course for newly appointed and qualified members and new designees of ex-officio members within six (6) months of their qualification or designation. The course shall be developed by the chair of the commission, approved by the commission, and conducted by the chair of the commission. The commission may approve the use of any commission or staff members or other individuals to assist with training. It shall include instruction in the following areas: the provisions of chapters 25-15, 42-46, 36-14 and 38-2; and the commission's rules and regulations. The director of the department of administration shall, within ninety (90) days of the effective date of this act [July 15, 2005], prepare and disseminate training materials relating to the provisions of chapters 42-46, 36-14 and 38-2; and

(17) To submit within (90) days after the end of the fiscal year an annual report to the governor, the speaker of the house of representatives, the president of the senate, and the secretary of state of its activities during that fiscal year. The report shall provide: an operating statement summarizing meetings or hearings held, including meeting minutes, subjects addressed, advisories rendered under subdivision (a)(2), advisories rendered for activities to be undertaken by departments and agencies of the state under subdivision (a)(10), studies conducted, policies and plans developed in order to assist other state agencies in preparing elements of the state guide plan, plans or programs developed for the preservation of sites or structures included in the state register, and any other programs administered or initiated including any assistance or training provided agencies with jurisdiction over historic places; a consolidated financial statement of all funds received and expended including the source of the funds, grants or loans to towns, cities or private groups, a listing of any staff supported by these funds, and a summary of any clerical, administrative or technical support received, and a summary of any land or interest in land and/or buildings received during the fiscal year; a review of the inventories complied as required in subdivisions (a)(2), (a)(3)(ii), and (a)(9); a summary of performance during the previous fiscal year including accomplishments, shortcomings and remedies; a synopsis of any legal matters related to the authority of the commission; a summary of any training courses held pursuant to subdivision (a)(16); a briefing on anticipated activities in the upcoming fiscal year; and findings and recommendations for improvements. The report shall be posted electronically as prescribed in 42-20-8.2. The director of the department of administration shall be responsible for the enforcement of this provision.

(b) Whenever a public hearing on any project involving state or local governmental funds or a federal grant or loan is held, notice of it shall be sent to any historic district commission in the city or town and to the Rhode Island historical preservation and heritage commission, together with a map indicating the area and the type of project to be discussed at the hearing. Whenever an urban project plan is prepared through the use of, or contemplating the use of, state or local governmental funds, a copy shall be transmitted to the Rhode Island historical preservation and heritage commission.

History of Section.
G.L. 1956, 42-45-5; P.L. 1968, ch. 290, 1; P.L. 1970, ch. 299, 1; P.L. 1974, ch. 162, 2; P.L. 1976, ch. 118, 1; P.L. 1986, ch. 198, 34; P.L. 1988, ch. 291, 1; P.L. 1988, ch. 371, 1; P.L. 1994, ch. 70, art. 29, 3; P.L. 2005, ch. 228, 3; P.L. 2005, ch. 315, 3.