Part of housing package, Chairman Casey bill would
promote updated municipal comprehensive plans
STATE HOUSE —As part of House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi’s 14-bill package of legislation to address Rhode Island’s housing crisis, Chairman Stephen M. Casey is sponsoring a bill that would encourage municipalities to update their comprehensive plans.
“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 If the comprehensive plan is outdated, that restricts growth that would be beneficial for the town and its housing stock.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 6085) would require municipalities to update their comprehensive plan every five years. Any comprehensive plan over 12 years old could not be used as justification to deny zoning changes. Zoning maps would have to come into compliance with the comprehensive plans within 12 months of the plan being adopted.
As Chairman of the House Committee on Municipal Government and Housing, Representative Casey will play a key role this year in the House’s efforts to tackle housing costs. Nine of the 14 bills that Speaker Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick), Representative Casey and others are proposing to bring down housing costs will be heard in that committee.
“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. I look forward to working with my colleagues on all of the bills before our committee to make housing more affordable and accessible for people of every income level.”