What’s the rush?

October 16th, 2007

Last night the Providence City Council’s Ordinance Committee held a meeting on the city’s push to update the Comprehensive Plan before consulting with affected neighborhoods, like the working waterfront along Allens Avenue, through the community charette process. According to an article in today’s Providence Journal, the committee is wisely considering revising the draft Comprehensive Plan to include specific language that no zoning changes can be made until the neighborhood planning process is complete.

Further, the article notes that City Council members and the state’s planning director see no need to rush through a Comprehensive Plan without proper consultation:

Some council members have argued that the city doesn’t need to submit the plan in stages at all, and can wait for the neighborhood planning process to conclude. Councilman John J. Lombardi said last night that the city does not need to rush things, as the current plan should still function legally and govern local development even though it has expired.

“To go forward as we are, it may just be unwarranted and inappropriate,” Lombardi said.

Kevin Flynn, the state’s top planning authority, said in an interview yesterday that the laws are very vague when it comes to the consequences of allowing the Comprehensive Plan to expire.

“The statute doesn’t give a prescriptive list of what happens when your five years is up. It doesn’t say.”

But realistically, there are no immediate negative repercussions if Providence runs past the plan’s expiration date.

“It’s not like they’re going to lose aid to education or anything like that, no,” he said.

The existing plan will continue to govern local development even after it has expired, Flynn said.

“It still guides your local action,” he said. “There are several communities that have gone well past that five years.”

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