PROVIDENCE – Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee Tuesday night vetoed a bill that would have allowed the Providence Redevelopment Authority to construct new commercial and industrial buildings.
The bill, amending the state law governing municipal redevelopment authorities, was introduced immediately after the unveiling of a plan to redevelop the former South Street Power Station in Providence and was widely seen as a mechanism to build a publicly-funded parking garage for that project.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Maryellen Goodwin, D-Providence, who works in the city planning and development office, and only applied to communities with more than 100,000 residents. Providence is only city in Rhode Island with a population greater than 100,000.
Despite the apparent connection with the power-station-parking garage plan, proponents of the bill never explicitly linked it with that project or specified what the PRA would do with expanded power.
In his veto letter, Chafee said giving the redevelopment authority the ability to build could expose taxpayers to risk that should be assumed by private developers.
“…the private sector, through careful risk/reward assessment and expertise, is better suited to real estate development than the public sector, and I am opposed to asking Rhode Island taxpayers to bear the potential costs should these projects fail,” Chafee said. “Second, the board authority granted under this bill would only benefit the Providence Redevelopment Authority, and there is no principled reason to treat this entity any differently from any other agency.”
For the bill to go into effect now, the General Assembly would have to override it with a two-thirds vote.
Also on Tuesday night, Chafee vetoed a bill establishing a “Choose Life” charity license plate that would have funded an anti-abortion group and a bill that would have given developers a property-tax exemption on speculative housing projects until they are occupied.