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6/15/2023 Speaker Shekarchi, Sen. McKenney legislation to create housing court calendar passed by General Assembly
STATE HOUSE – Legislation sponsored by House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi (2023-H 6060A) and Senator Mark P. McKenney (2023-S 1053A) to create a court calendar dedicated to housing and land use was passed by the General Assembly today.

The legislation is part of Speaker Shekarchi’s 14-bill package of legislation to address Rhode Island’s housing crisis.

“Rhode Island desperately needs more housing,” said Speaker Shekarchi. “Creating more housing isn’t just about building more units, although I wish it was that simple! We hear time and time again from developers that Rhode Island’s development process is confusing and is mired in red tape. This legislation will cut some of that red tape, as well as the length of the current appeal process. By streamlining the process and making it more predictable, we are making it more attractive for developers to build in Rhode Island.”

Said Senator McKenney (D-Dist. 30, Warwick), “Rhode Island ranks last in the nation for our rate of housing production. Our complicated, slow permitting process bears some of the responsibility. This bill is a step in the right direction, streamlining a process that affects the affordable housing projects that Rhode Island needs most. It’s one part of the wide-ranging response we need to make headway toward solving our housing crisis.”

The legislation would create a housing/land use court calendar. It allows the presiding judge of Rhode Island Superior Court to establish a housing and land use calendar to streamline eligible matters and establish administrative orders for their processing.

One of the bills in Speaker Shekarchi’s housing package, 2023-H 6083A, sponsored by Rep. Jose Batista, will, if signed into law, alter the process for planning board appeals. Currently, abutters appeal approvals directly to Superior Court, under a different standard, while applicant appeals go through Rhode Island’s State Housing Appeals Board (SHAB). Rep. Batista’s legislation, also approved by the House today, repeals the SHAB and creates a more streamlined appeal process under the same standards for all parties.

Repealing the SHAB means that more appeals will go directly to Superior Court; Speaker Shekarchi’s legislation accommodates that influx of legislation.

This legislation does not provide for additional appeals of matters that did not previously exist, or otherwise alter any process or standards of review on appeal. It would be effective January 1, 2024.

The legislation repealing the SHAB, while streamlining the appeal process, still retains the same standards for review on appeal.

The legislation now heads to the governor’s desk for consideration.

For more information, contact:
Emily Martineau, Deputy Director of Communications for the Office of the Speaker
State House Room 323
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-2466