Menu Bar

Home           Calendar           Topics          Just Charlestown          About Us

Monday, February 5, 2024

New state ADU bill moves forward

R.I. House panel advances ‘granny flats’ legislation to full chamber

By Nancy Lavin, Rhode Island Current

The Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA) would have you believe this
 is what will happen if the town allows ADU construction
The lone straggler from House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi’s 14-bill housing package unveiled in the 2023 legislative session is making a strong comeback this year, with a House panel advancing the “granny flats” legislation Thursday.

The House Municipal Government and Housing Committee’s 10-2 vote does not necessarily signal its approval, but rather sends the bill to the House floor for a vote by the entire chamber. A floor vote will be scheduled for the week of Feb. 12, said House spokesperson Larry Berman.

Still, the accessory dwelling unit legislation championed by Shekarchi and sponsored by Rep. June Speakman, a Warren Democrat, seems bound for passage in the lower chamber. The same bill was overwhelmingly approved in the House in June, but stalled in committee on the Senate side.

Heralded by proponents as a way to combat the housing crisis, the legislation would make it easier for property owners to add a granny flat, or accessory dwelling unit, to their property by lifting some of the red tape imposed at the municipal level. 

Specifically, the bill allows residential property owners to build an attached or standalone ADU “by right” under any of three scenarios: to provide for family members with disabilities; on lots at least 20,000 square feet in size; or when the proposed ADU would be carved out from an existing structure, therefore not expanding the total building footprint.

The legislation authorizes cities and towns to set size limits on the add-ons, but prevents them from adding extra conditions around frontage and setbacks or infrastructure requirements beyond what is required by state law.

The bill was backed by housing advocates, developers and those representing seniors, but drew pushback from some cities and towns over perceived loss of their regulatory power. Senate President Dominick Ruggerio said in an interview in December that he was open to the proposal, but wanted to add more limits and details to assuage local concerns.

There is no Senate companion bill as of Thursday.

The House committee vote was split along party lines, with Republican Reps. Patricia Morgan, of West Warwick, and Brian Newberry, of North Smithfield, casting the votes in opposition.

Democratic Representatives Karen Alzate, José Batista and Katherine Kazarian were absent for the vote.



Rhode Island Current is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Rhode Island Current maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Janine L. Weisman for questions: Follow Rhode Island Current on Facebook and Twitter.