standing Letters

In September, the Providence Journal published the number of new homes built in every Rhode Island municipality for the years 2018 through 2020. Charlestown approved 110 new units for those years.

Out of the 39 cities and towns in the state, Charlestown had the 14th highest number of new homes. In terms of rate of growth it was even higher, as most of the towns with lower numbers have much higher populations than Charlestown’s.

The towns with fewer units approved than Charlestown’s 110 were Barrington (106), Bristol (50), Central Falls (16), East Greenwich (78), East Providence (7), Exeter (94), Foster (24), Hopkinton (86), Jamestown (47), Johnston (80), Little Compton (47), Middletown (86), Narragansett (71), New Shoreham (31), Newport (47), North Providence (21), North Smithfield (62), Pawtucket (50), Portsmouth (84), Scituate (58), Smithfield (70), Tiverton (101), West Greenwich (77), West Warwick (97), and Woonsocket (60).

The towns with more units approved than Charlestown were Burrillville (162), Coventry (167), Cranston (172), Cumberland (284), Glocester (120), Lincoln (166), North Kingstown (199), Providence (1352), Richmond (178), South Kingstown (309), Warren (126), Warwick (219), and Westerly (137).

Of the 13 towns with higher housing production than Charlestown’s, only Richmond has a small population comparable to Charlestown’s. Providence had 12 times as many new units as Charlestown, but its population is nearly 25 times greater, meaning Charlestown is adding new units at twice the rate that Providence is.

Rhode Island’s long-range land use plan “Land Use 2025” directs the state to concentrate growth inside the Urban Services Boundary, in areas with sewer, public water and other urban infrastructure, and pursue a strategy of land preservation in the rural areas. The current growth trends are turning these plans upside down.

Our political opposition claims that Charlestown is growing too slowly, that our regulations are burdensome, and that we do too much to conserve Charlestown’s natural resources. Calls to encourage faster residential growth by relaxing regulations and rejecting land conservation will further accelerate the development of our remaining farms and forest. This will benefit a handful of developers, will not benefit taxpayers or the environment, and will put us even further at odds with Rhode Island’s long-range planning goals.

Ruth Platner


The writer is the chairwoman of the Charlestown Planning Commission.

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