Dangerous Complacency at Rhode Island League of Cities & Towns Towards RhodeMap RI?

A friend forwarded me an interesting and alarming e-mail thread with regard to RhodeMap RI. Below is the text of two of the e-mails, which went out this afternoon, followed by the author and his title.

On Thursday morning, the State Planning Council will vote on a proposed Economic Development Plan which largely incorporates the principles and priorities of RhodeMap RI. It is true, as the e-mails below indicate, that RhodeMap RI is not a law, nor does the Economic Development Plan itself contain federal mandates. But no one who objects to RhodeMap RI has contended either of these points. Rather, we are alarmed because the Economic Development Plan is the first step towards such mandates. If the Plan is ever adopted, we can already hear the arguments as state officials begin to sidle towards its implementation: “We need the money from HUD. But you have no reason to worry, we will control what happens. Nothing will be forced on you …”

But there will be no reason whatsoever to believe such arguments or to be reassured. Once the HUD funds are accepted, the mandates are automatic.

Far better not to even start down this road towards Jonathan Gruber-esque policy making. The Economic Development Plan needs to be voted down Thursday morning and we need to go back to the drawing board – this time, with the goal of formulating a true economic development plan.

(Emphasis in each e-mail added.)

Thank you for preparing a response to this thread. This topic was brought up at this mornings Rhode Island League of Cities & Town’s Meeting and we discussed that RhodeMap RI is in fact not a law, and simply serves as another planning tool available to the Statewide Planning group.

Shawn J. Brown, CPA
Town Administrator
Town of Middletown, RI

– – – – – –

I would encourage everyone to take a look at the RhodeMap website, http://rhodemapri.org/ to learn more about what the project is actually about. While this planning effort is funded by a grant to the state from HUD, the products, including the state economic development and housing plans, are being drafted by Rhode Islanders to address Rhode Island concerns. Implementation of recommendations in these planning documents would, in most cases, require legislation and/or funding approved by the RI General Assembly. There is no federal mandate that the recommendations be adopted, and there is certainly no ceding of local land use regulation or other authority to the federal government.

Ron Wolanski
Planning Director
Town of Middletown, RI

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