June 17 Ward Letter

I hope you are enjoying the flowering of concerts, parades and festivals that mark the imminent arrival of summer.  This week’s letter discusses the condominium proposal at 150 Lloyd Avenue, the proposed amendment to the student housing ordinance and the regulation of short-term rentals such as Airbnb.

Download a pdf copy.

At the June 4 meeting of the College Hill Neighborhood Association, representatives of a developer presented a proposal to build ten condominium units at 150 Lloyd Avenue to replace the current plans to open a suboxone office at that location.  The proposal would require a zoning change for the property from R-1 to R-4 to permit this increased density of development.  The developer has offered to remove the variance currently attached to the property permitting use as a doctor’s office if the zoning change is approved.  On Tuesday, June 19 at 4:45 p.m. at 444 Westminster Street, the City Plan Commission will review whether this proposal is consistent with the City’s comprehensive plan.  The Commission will review a Report by the Planning Department staff stating its (nonbinding) opinion that the requested zoning change is not consistent with the City’s comprehensive plan.  The Planning Commission will consider the report, hear public comment and take a vote on this issue.  The City Council’s Ordinance Committee will hold a public hearing on the proposed zoning change, and the matter ultimately will be reviewed by the entire City Council.  In the City Council’s process, the Planning Commission’s recommendation carries weight, but is not binding.  I plan to attend Tuesday night’s meeting, and encourage any residents who wish to share their views with the Planning Commission to attend as well.  The agenda is lengthy, so if may be a long night.

At the same June 19 meeting, the City Plan Commission will review an Amended Ordinance that would extend the scope of the current student housing ordinance.  The current ordinance places a 3-student limit on rentals of single-family homes.  The Amended Ordinance would place a three student per unit limit on rentals of two-family homes in R-1 and R-1A zones.  The proposed amendment is based on the discovery of a lease for a 2-family home on College Hill to thirteen student tenants, which could significantly change the character of that neighborhood, and could lead to similar changes across the City.  (An earlier version of the Ordinance would have extended the “three student per unit” restriction to all multifamily houses in all zones, but in response to feedback from you, I worked with the Law Department to scale back the proposal to its current form.)  Residents who have a view on this ordinance are invited to the same meeting, with the same prediction that it could prove to be a long night.

In recent months, Councilwoman LaFortune and I have received requests from constituents to consider regulation of short-term rental platforms such as Airbnb.  We asked the City Council staff to research current regulations in place in other communities.  We now would like to share that research with you and receive your thoughts and ideas about what type of regulation would make sense in Providence.  With that in mind, we have scheduled a neighborhood meeting to take place at the Rochambeau Branch Library Conference Room on Monday, June 25 at 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.  Please mark this on your calendar and consider coming if you wish to learn more about this issue and offer your feedback.


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