May 16, 2023

House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, a land use attorney, continues to push for legislation that overrides local control over land use and zoning.

Today, the R.I. House of Representatives will be voting on House Bill 6082. This bill will essentially require two-family non-owner-occupied housing to be allowed in areas which are only zoned for single-family residences. This legislation basically prohibits municipalities from limiting accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to family members, and on property which is owner-occupied.

Furthermore, in the past, Shekarchi has bickered with the Warwick Planning Department over ADUs. For example, in 2017, Shekarchi ended up agreeing to the Warwick Zoning Board’s conditions that prohibited his client from renting out the ADU he wanted to build and turning his property into a two-family property.

Republican Party of R.I. Chairman Joe Powers has the following comments:

“This ADU bill requires municipalities to allow absentee landlords in suburban neighborhoods and undermines single-family zoning. Whether or not ADUs should be allowed for non-family members should be a decision left up to each municipality, not Speaker Shekarchi. Zoning decisions should be made by local officials who ultimately answer to the residents of their community; not by Shekarchi who answers to his clients and donors.

“Local control is better than Sherkarchi control.

“Not only does this bill override local control, but it is another example of how Shekarchi pushes legislation which could benefit one of his clients. If Shekarchi’s legislation had been in effect in 2017, the Warwick Zoning Board could not have prevented Shekarchi’s client from building an ADU, renting it out, and turning the property into two-family rental housing. 

“Shekarchi says his bills are about equity, but perhaps it is really about increasing the equity in the real estate investments of his clients – past, present, and future.”

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Republican Party of

Rhode Island