Municipal zoning regulations are often developed as a means to protect present property owners and residents from changes that could negatively affect the value of their property or the character of the neighborhood. Often zoning regulations can be used to ensure that a neighborhood only includes residential property or only single-family units. While zoning regulations can be effective at preventing low-density neighborhoods from becoming too dense and crowded, the regulations often serve to prevent developers from constructing affordable housing units. A recently published local news report discusses how zoning regulations in Pawtucket are making it difficult to address the state’s affordable housing crisis.
The recently published news report discusses the efforts of a nonprofit organization that was founded to help foster children find affordable housing after they age out of foster care. Because foster children who age out of foster care are often looking for a small studio or one-bedroom units at an affordable price, single-family housing is not always a feasible option. The organization featured in the article sought to purchase single-family homes and divide them into multiple apartments for their clients. According to the news report, the organization purchased a building that was converted into four separate units, which could house between 8-10 people. Unfortunately, the municipal zoning board rejected the organization’s proposal to occupy the fourth unit, as there was not sufficient parking available to meet zoning requirements.
The zoning requirements at issue demand that each residential unit has two parking spots of off-street parking available. Although it is important to make sure that there is parking available for residents before allowing them to move in, the article notes that the application of this particular requirement is counterproductive. Of the 10 people that would live in the proposed new building, 6 spots are available, and only two spots appeared to be needed. By requiring two parking spots for each unit, the law is preventing people who don’t even own a vehicle from finding housing. To address this problem, municipal zoning boards are being encouraged to update the over 30-year-old zoning codes that require so much parking. People seeking new construction or renovations can also petition the zoning board for a variance or exception to approve a proposal that doesn’t meet the zoning requirements outright.
Contact a Rhode Island Real Estate Lawyer at Bilodeau Capalbo, LLC
If you are interested in developing or constructing a multi-family home in Rhode Island, your work is needed to address our state’s housing crisis. Although more units are needed, some outdated zoning regulations may stand in the way of your plans. Until the zoning regulations are updated to allow a more reasonable development plan to proceed, you may need to seek the legal counsel of a qualified Rhode Island real estate and zoning attorney to seek an exception to the existing zoning laws. The dedicated Rhode Island real estate lawyers with Bilodeau Capalbo can help you meet your goals. Our experienced attorneys have successfully represented property owners and developers with zoning issues in the past, and we know how to get your plans approved. Contact us today by calling 401-300-4055 to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a qualified Rhode Island real estate attorney.