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Urgent Legislative Alert

 

RhodeMap RI bills are scheduled for hearing in the Finance Committee Thursday, May 21 – Room 35 at the rise. Please plan on being there by 4:30 so that you will have a seat in the hearing room. The package of bills aims to protect and preserve local control of land use and housing development. It is important that you attend the hearing to support the bills as described below.

 

Short History.

Everyone recalls the December 11, 2014 board meeting that Rhode Island's Statewide Planning Council held under the guidance of Kevin Flynn, an Associate Director in the Division of Planning. The meeting room was packed to capacity, with citizens and elected officials, who urged the council to postpone their vote on RhodeMap RI. Others waited outside the meeting room as the board took up their agenda to cast votes of approval for RhodeMap RI to become an official part of Rhode Island's State Guide Plan.  We imagine that the planning council had rarely, if ever, drawn such a crowd at any of their previous board meetings.

 

Attendees implored the Statewide Planning Council to provide time for town councils, state legislators and the citizenry to understand and determine what legal obligations and ramifications for local planning might exist as a result of the council's approval to make RhodeMap RI an official part of the State Guide Plan. Over a dozen city and town resolutions were sent to the council containing the same message.

 

The widespread concern and subsequent requests to postpone the council's vote was sparked by the fact that RhodeMap RI was presented as an economic development plan, but was funded by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) with a specific focus on implementation of HUD's standards and expectations regarding affordable housing development and land use for "Growth Centers" across the state. In fact, HUD's application process required sign-off on their expectations as a condition of providing funding to develop RhodeMap RI. Kevin Flynn's signature appears on those key documents.

 

The Statewide Planning Council approved RhodeMap RI. That vote made RhodeMap RI an official part (or, 'element' as the board members refer to it) of the State Guide Plan.

 

Two Reasons Why You Should Show Your Support in Committee for the Package of Bills on Thursday, May 21.

  1. The Statewide Planning Council's decisions are contained in the State Guide Plan. Be aware of the fact that the legislature had empowered the unelected board members of the Statewide Planning Council, through existing statutes, to make planning decisions on behalf of the state that directly impose on local cities' and towns' own development plans – known as (local) comprehensive plans. Those plans are utilized to form your local zoning ordinances.

 

The package of bills will protect local comprehensive plans and therefore local zoning ordinances from the obligations of RhodeMap RI which are now contained in the State Guide Plan.

 

  2.  Read the Providence Journal's Politifact on Kevin Flynn's remarks in response to all of the concerns expressed at the December 11 board meeting. He failed to disclose all of the facts, which Politifact lays out in their article as well as their list of sources contained in their piece.

 

Package of Bills: Finance Committee Thursday, May 21 – Room 35 at the rise (4:30)

 

Identical bills that include a provision to allow a municipality to opt-out of the affordable housing and land use element of the State Guide Plan relative to the local comprehensive plan:

 

H 6041 

Sponsors: Roberts, Price, Chippendale, Filippi and Nardolillo

 

H 6042    

Bipartisan Sponsors: Costa, Lancia, Giarrusso, Reilly and Corvese

 

H 6040 Prohibits affordable housing programs with requirements that exceed those set forth in the general laws of the state from inclusion in the statewide planning program.

Sponsors: Price, Roberts, Chippendale, Costa and Nardolillo

 

H 6043 Repeals the provisions and references to compliance with the State Guide Plan relative to local comprehensive planning for land use.

Sponsors: Nardolillo, Chippendale, Price and Roberts

 

See you at the State House on Thursday in Room 35. Please sign up "PRO" on the sign-up sheets that will be available on the clerk's desk.

 

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