The following was written and submitted by Tom Shevlin, Communications Officer for the City of Newport.
Seeking to limit the potential spread of COVID-19, the City of Newport announced on Monday that City Hall and offices will remain fully staffed, however with limited in-person services in place for the remainder of the month. Once again, the City is urging Newporters to take advantage of the City’s online and mail-in services.
Effective Tuesday, March 17th, the following department hours and operations will be in place:
- The City Clerk’s Office will be closed to the public though April 1st, but will remain staffed to conduct essential City business via phone, email, or by using the Clerk’s dropbox located in the ground floor lobby.
- Marriage licenses for services occurring in the City between March 16-April 1 can be obtained by appointment only by calling (401) 845-5349.
- The Land Evidence office will be closed to the public but will remain staffed to conduct essential business. Document research is available at USLandRecords.com. Recordings will be accepted by appointment only by contacting (401) 845-5334 or email@example.com.
- Funeral directors are asked to call (401) 845-5340, 845-5341, or 845-5342 to make arrangements for filing.
- The Collections Office will be open only limited hours, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Monday – Friday. Newporters who normally pay their property taxes in person are encouraged to use either of the City’s two drop boxes located outside the First Floor Payroll Office, or externally at the Bull Street entrance to City Hall, which is accessible any time during or after normal business hours. Residents are also invited to mail in their payments to the City of Newport, 43 Broadway, Newport, R.I. with attention to Tax Collections.
· If you operate a guest house, Room Tax Revenue Forms are available for download on the City’s website and are also gladly accepted via mail or dropbox. Payment for Taxes, Water, Parking Tickets & Municipal Court Fees may also be made online at www.riegov.com. If you need further information, please call (401) 845 – 5401.
- The Department of Utilities offices at 70 Halsey St. will also be open by appointment only. Staff will be working and available to answer questions and provide necessary utility services via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone 845-5600. Staff will gladly assist you and if necessary setup an appointment to meet. Customers are also reminded that utility forms and applications are always available on the City’s website at www.cityofnewport.com/utilities . All completed applications during this time can be emailed to email@example.com.
- In light of the understandable financial hardship that may be experienced during this time, the Department of Utilities will also be temporarily suspending all water service shutoffs related to nonpayment. We ask any customers subject to shut off to contact the department to setup flexible payment plans to avoid growing balances.
- The Public Services Department will also limit public access to its Spring Street headquarters. Curb cut applications, Memorial Bench information, and other related requests can be accessed electronically at CityofNewport.com/PublicServices.
- The Department of Planning and Economic Development will be closed to the public but will remain staffed to conduct essential business via email and phone. Staff will be available by appointment only and only for essential business. Please call (401) 845-5450 or email PReynolds@CityofNewport.com.
- The City’s Zoning and Inspections Office will also be closed to the public, however staff will be available via phone or email to answer any pending questions. Anyone interested in obtaining a building related permit is encouraged to access the City’s E-Permitting system. All applicants seeking approval from the City’s Zoning Board of Review, Planning Board, or Historic District Commission are asked to contact (401) 845-5451 or (401) 845-5459 to schedule an appointment.
- Newport voters are advised that the City’s Canvassing Office will be closed to the public for routine business with staff available for any essential business that requires an in-person consultation. To schedule as appointment, please contact Tracy Nelson at (401) 845-5384, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org; or Caitlin Springer at (401) 845-8386, or via email at email@example.com
- The City’s Tax Assessor’s Office will be available by appointment only. To schedule a consultation, please call the (401) 845-5363.
- The Newport Recreation division has suspended all adult and youth programming until further notice.
- The Edward King House Senior Center is closed for two weeks, effective March 13th
- The City’s Police Department is limiting access to its municipal meeting room, however staff will continue to process VIN checks and other public requests in person until further notice.
- In addition, the Offices of the City Manager, Mayor, and City Solicitor will also be open by appointment only. Please refer to the City’s Staff Directory to schedule an appointment.
- Finally, please note that all public meetings have been noticed for cancellation, and Municipal and Probate Courts have been suspended.
According to an executive order issued by the Governor on Monday, bars and restaurants will be restricted to providing take-out and delivery service beginning Tuesday, March 17th. However, under the City’s current zoning ordinances, in most cases, standard restaurants are prohibited from engaging in take-out orders as a primary source of business without a special use permit issued by the Zoning Board.
In an effort to help provide some relief to Newport’s business community, the City will be allowing all legally existing standard or fast-food restaurants to provide carry out sales of food items to the extent allowed by the Governor’s order without such activity being deemed a zoning violation under the City’s Zoning Ordinances.
More information about the City’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak can be found online at www.CityofNewport.com/COVID19.