video: NEW: RhodeMap RI Opposition Packs Meeting, Council Votes to Move Plan Forward

Thursday, December 11, 2014


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The Rhode Island State Planning Council voted to move forward with the controversial RhodeMap RI plan at a packed meeting at the Department of Administration on Thursday.  

Both opponents and supporters crowded the room, and were given one hour by the council for input, with both sides being given alternating turns at the microphone with two minutes each.

Governor Lincoln Chafee spoke first in support of the plan, saying would stick to his two minutes. Citing unemployment statistics, Chafee said that the state should keep "moving forward," saying the plan is "all about inclusion."

Mike Stenhouse with the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, who has been an outspoken critic of the plan, had harsh words for the council. 

"This is your 38 Studios," said Stenhouse when he took to the podium, citing the state's deal with the failed video game company."This is dumb, and unconstitutional.  Send the plan back to the General Assembly, and let them deal with it."

RhodeMap RI is billed as a "coordinated and forward-looking effort by the state to make Rhode Island a better place to live and work by mobilizing state and community assets in a whole new way.  Through RhodeMap RI, the State seeks to strengthen our economy, meet current and future housing needs, and plan for future growth through the development of an integrated plan that will also include strategies for transportation, land use and environmental protection."

Representative Mike Chippendale, who helped lead the effort to not repay the 38 Studios bonds this past General Assembly session, spoke to the process as he saw it Thursday morning.
"It's almost if it were attempted to be snuck in under the darkness of night before the election, then they bumped it to now," said Chippendale. "But it's the waning days of a lame duck administration with an incoming new General Assembly. Why are we doing this at the literally 11th hour?  Why are we not waiting for the new General Assembly to do their job?  I can promise you this - I voted on these three bills, and this is not the legislation we passed. We passed economic development bills, not social engineering bills.  

Moving Forward

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Rhode Island Division of Planning Associate Director Kevin Flynn told GoLocal in November what the next steps would be, if the plan were adopted. 

"The plan contains six goals and many strategies.  It will be up to the governor and the legislature to determine which of these move forward, especially if any require legislation.  In other ways, once adopted, the plan serves as guidance to local communities doing their comprehensive plans, and that is an ongoing process," said Kevin Flynn, the state's Division of Planning Associate Director .

Steve Larrick, the Director of Planning for Central Falls, who spoke out in support of RhodeMap RI, addressed what he said was the importance of the state working with HUD, who administers the grant.

I think what's been lacking in this debate is the role that HUD plays in our communities," said Larrick.  "HUD provides funding for our infrastructure, for our parks, for addressing foreclosures.  These are things we would need to address regardless."

Stenhouse said that despite the vote, the opponents to the plan would continue to address it. 

"[Representative] Doreen Costa announced this morning that she's working on legislation to repeal this," said Stenhouse.  "We've got some ideas that we're working on, specifically how to do an economic plan the right way, to put out ideas.  You can't repeal something and have there be a void.

Stenhouse noted that individual towns were beginning to address the effort.  "It's now up to eight local towns opposed to this," said Stenhouse.  "Scituate, Portsmouth, Foster, Tiverton, East Greenwich, West Greenwich, Hopkinton, and Exeter."


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