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6/15/2023 Assembly passes Casey/Pearson bill to promote updated municipal comprehensive plans
STATE HOUSE — The General Assembly today passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Stephen M. Casey and Senate Majority Leader Ryan W. Pearson that would encourage municipalities to update their comprehensive plans. The bill is part of House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi’s 14-bill package of legislation to address Rhode Island’s housing crisis.

“This might sound complicated, but it’s really all about cutting red tape so we can build the housing we need without compromising the character of our neighborhoods,” said Representative Casey (D-Dist. 50, Woonsocket).

Municipalities around the state create comprehensive plans that outline future development goals. By law, proposed zoning changes must align with the comprehensive plan. But as populations grow and shift, zoning and development needs can change. If the comprehensive plan is outdated, that restricts growth that would be beneficial for the town and its housing stock.

The bill (2023-H 6085A, 2023-S 1033A) would require all municipal land use approvals to be consistent with future land use maps so long as the municipality’s comprehensive plan is updated in accordance with statute. Any comprehensive plan over 12 years old could not be used as justification to deny zoning changes.

As Chairman of the House Committee on Municipal Government and Housing, Representative Casey has played a key role this year in the House’s efforts to tackle housing costs. The majority of the 14 bills that Speaker Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick), Representative Casey and others are proposing to bring down housing costs went through that committee.

“To help bring housing costs under control, we need to build housing at every price point and for all income levels,” said Leader Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln). “This bill is an important step in that direction.”

“This bill gives cities and towns the power to plan future development, but it doesn’t let decisions from over a decade ago stop necessary growth,” Chairman Casey said. “It’s just part of a full package that will tackle housing costs. We worked very hard this year and took big steps to make housing more affordable and accessible for people of every income level.”

The bill now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature.

For more information, contact:
Fil Eden, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903