Rhode Island House Passes Legislation to Streamline Wetlands Zoning Regulations

In a bid to simplify wetlands zoning regulations and stimulate housing development, the Rhode Island House of Representatives has approved a bill sponsored by Representative Terri Cortvriend. The legislation, part of House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi’s 15-bill package addressing the state’s housing crisis, aims to prevent unnecessary complications that can deter housing projects.

The bill, designated as 2024-H 7982, proposes amendments to zoning ordinances concerning wetland buffers for various development projects. It clarifies that local regulations of coastal and freshwater wetlands must adhere strictly to state agency requirements, thereby reducing inconsistencies across municipalities. Importantly, the legislation reaffirms the authority and responsibilities of the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) without diminishing their roles.

Representative Cortvriend, representing District 72 (Middletown, Portsmouth), emphasized the importance of protecting coastal resources while promoting responsible development. “As a founding member of the Aquidneck Island Climate Caucus and someone deeply involved in the marine trades, I understand the critical need to safeguard our coasts and wetlands,” stated Cortvriend. “Uniform, statewide regulations are essential to defend these vital ecosystems from irresponsible development and to streamline the housing development process.”

The legislation, endorsed by Cortvriend, will now advance to the Senate for further consideration.

In addition to her efforts on wetlands zoning, Representative Cortvriend is championing another bill (2024-H 7844) aimed at reforming the CRMC. This proposed reform would transform the CRMC into the Department of Coastal Resources, positioning it within the executive branch. The bill seeks to enhance accountability, transparency, and professional standards within this crucial entity of Rhode Island’s public infrastructure.




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