STATE HOUSE – The General Assembly today passed legislation to improve
Rhode Island’s ranking as the most regulated
state for land use. The bills, which will be sent to the governor’s office to
be signed, protects current agricultural businesses and increases future
farming in coastal communities in the state.
Sponsored by Sen. V.
Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, New Shoreham, South
Kingstown) and Rep. Teresa Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett)
and co-sponsored by Donna Walsh, the legislation is part of the Senate’s
comprehensive package of legislation intended to “Make it Easy to do Business
in Rhode Island.”
Both bills will be transmitted to the governor.
The legislation (2012-S 2548A, 2012-H 7961) eliminates the requirement for Coastal Resource Management Council (CRMC) approval and gives the Department of Environmental Management exclusive jurisdiction over plant agriculture businesses, including farming on wetlands.
The only exception would be for farming activities within 200 feet of the coastal physiographic feature, in which case DEM would exercise jurisdiction in consultation with CRMC.
Senator Sosnowski, who runs a farm in
South Kingstown, said she knows
the plight of the agricultural business owner when it comes to regulations.
“This legislation is going to make it easier for
Island farmers to focus on running their businesses
without having to go through two boards or agencies,” said Senator Sosnowski,
who serves as chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Environment and
Agriculture. “What I’m most excited about is the opportunity for economic
growth in our coastal communities.”
Rep. Teresa Tanzi said this bill will pave the way for farmers to thrive in
“We have a unique landscape in
because we have so much coastline. No one wants to see that asset become a
burden on our small farms,” she said. “This is going to streamline the process
for our coastal farmers and encourage the agricultural productivity that is so
essential to this state.”