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City of Providence, RI

12/08/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/08/2023 09:39

Mayor Smiley Celebrates Successful Passage of Zoning Amendments

Ordinance Facilitates Housing Growth, Streamlines Processes

PROVIDENCE, RI-Tonight, the Providence City Council approved new zoning amendments crafted by the Administration in alignment with statewide regulatory requirements championed by Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, adopted earlier this year. The new amendments facilitate increased housing development in Providence by introducing opportunities in new zones and optimizing the permitting and approval procedures for a more streamlined and efficient process.

"I take great pride in Providence being among the first Rhode Island communities to successfully amend these critical zoning regulations," said Mayor Brett P. Smiley. "Through these amendments, Providence will be better positioned to build more housing options at every price point. I want to thank the many staff members who worked to ensure we could successfully implement these changes, State Leadership who developed these recommendations, and the City Council and City Plan Commission for advancing this initiative across the finish line. This collaborative effort demonstrates our commitment to effective governance and making Providence the best-run city in America."

The regulations and amendments reflect new state-level requirements proposed by Speaker Shekarchi to spur housing development across Rhode Island. While Providence has historically adopted more progressive housing development regulations than surrounding communities, these amendments introduce several significant improvements, such as enabling the development of housing on smaller lots, fostering more efficient land use; establishing greater transparency in standardizing the utilization of special permits; and streamlining City review processes, enhancing efficiency and expediting decision-making. The new regulations will also allow for adaptive reuse of commercial buildings for housing so that schools, religious buildings, offices, and other commercial spaces across different zones can be repurposed for housing.

Housing development across all price points has been a top priority for the Smiley Administration. Over the last year, $29.2M has been invested in the Affordable Housing Trust to help meet the growing demand for high-quality affordable homes. Additionally, the City has invested $4.3 million in ARPA funding for emergency shelter beds and other emergency housing solutions, has invested in critical programs like Amos House's A Hand Up program through the City budget, and is set to invest another $1.7 million in emergency housing supports in the next year.

The package of amended development regulations was adopted by the City Plan Commission on November 14 to align with state guidelines. The details of the zoning amendments passed tonight by the Providence City Council can be found here.