Both bills are part of House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi’s (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) 14-bill package of legislation to address Rhode Island’s housing crisis.
“These bills will make is easier for vital housing developments to become a reality through clarifying and simplifying the processes relating to zoning standards and subdivision and land development permits. Our state cannot afford to wait any longer when it comes to building more housing and I commend Speaker Shekarchi for tackling the daunting problem of the state’s housing crisis this legislative session. These important bills will have a meaningful and significant impact on the lives of all Rhode Islanders and their need for proper and affordable housing,” said Chairman Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown).
The first bill (2023-H 6059A) would amend zoning standards and make changes to dimensional variance standards. The legislation further emphasizes the current requirement that each special use permit is required to have specific criteria for each allowed use, and clarifies and adjusts the process for the application and granting of administrative zoning approvals. This legislation does not change the process or permitting by municipalities and it adds a provision that allows municipalities, if they choose, to consider requests for relief for uses established by variance or permit. The legislation would be effective January 1, 2024.
The second bill (2023-H 6061Aaa) would amend subdivision and land development permits and processes to provide more predictability and to standardize processes throughout the state. The legislation provides clarification on the review process and categories of record and allows certain approvals to be done administratively under certain limited circumstances. Municipal approval of all projects would still be required under the legislation. It would be effective January 1, 2024. Both bills now head to the Senate for consideration.