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6/27/2023 New law sponsored by Corvese, Ruggerio to aid housing development
STATE HOUSE – A new law sponsored by Rep. Arthur Corvese and Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio will standardize and update the way notice is provided for land-use permitting.

The legislation (2023-H 6086A, 2023-S 1038A), which was signed by Gov. Dan McKee in recent days after passing the General Assembly June 15, is part of House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi’s package of legislation to address Rhode Island’s housing crisis.

The legislation will ensure that whenever changes are proposed to a local comprehensive plan, regulations or zoning, or a subdivision is proposed, public notice of all hearings and actions must be provided on the home page of the municipal website at least 14 days in advance; in postings at the town or city clerk’s office and at least one other municipal building; by advertisements in a local newspaper; and by First-Class Mail. The new takes effect immediately.

Previously, state law required that newspaper advertising be done in newspapers of “general” circulation, rather than those that are local to the area. It also required that abutter notices be mailed by registered or certified mail. The new law allows the use of First-Class Mail, provided the sender provides a notarized affidavit that it was sent. The new law also clarifies that the cost of both mailing and newspaper notices shall be borne by the applicant.

The changes are meant to help smooth the housing development process by making all the public notification requirements standard, modern and effective.

“One of the greatest factors contributing to our state’s housing crisis is that the pace of housing development is slow and not keeping up with demand. Making the process less cumbersome is one effort that will help to encourage development and keep it moving forward. This legislation provides simpler, standard requirements about how the public should be kept informed along the way, and ensures that all notices are easy to find on the town’s website by anyone who is interested,” said Representative Corvese (D-Dist. 55, North Providence).

Said President Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence), “Updating the notification requirements, particularly by requiring notifications be posted on the municipal website, just makes sense in 2023. Public engagement is a critical part of municipal planning, and today putting information online where citizens can easily access and share it should be standard operating procedure. These changes will help keep the public informed without being overly burdensome on municipalities or developers.”

The legislation is part of the 14-bill housing package that was backed this year by Speaker Shekarchi to encourage housing production. The legislation stems from two House commissions that have been meeting over the course of the last two years to identify and address the barriers to the state’s efforts to meet low- and moderate-income housing needs and to study all aspects of land use and development.

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923