PROVIDENCE, RI – The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announces that it has filed revisions to the freshwater wetlands rules with the Office of the Secretary of State.
The revision process began in 2015 when state law was revised to reflect the recommendations of a legislative task force formed to assess the adequacy of state wetland protection and examine the overlap with local requirement. With adoption of DEM rules, Rhode Island moves toward having one set of wetland protection standards that will apply statewide. The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council is expected to adopt a similar rule.
“We believe the proposed regulations provide a balance between the benefits of environmental protection, the economic interests of land development, and the need for more affordable housing in our state,” said DEM Acting Director Terry Gray. “The regulations provide certainty and consistency on the standards for wetlands permitting across the state and more options for quicker, streamlined permitting for development and affordable housing projects, while ensuring better buffers for important wetlands areas to protect their functions and values.”
To provide a transition period for applicants, the new regulations will go into effect 180 days. DEM looks forward to continuing to work with stakeholders to identify additional areas of improvement as the state invests hundreds of millions of dollars to address the affordable housing crisis.