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By Patrick Anderson
PBN Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE – The R.I. Economic Development Corporation launched a statewide pre-permitting program for underutilized industrial properties modeled on efforts to cut red tape at Quonset Business Park in North Kingstown.
In the next year, the program will identify roughly a dozen underutilized sites in Rhode Island where state and local officials will work with EDC-commissioned engineers to prepare the properties for rapid development, EDC Executive Director Keith Stokes said Monday.
The EDC will then spearhead efforts to market the sites to companies on the understanding that the pre-permitted properties would be ready for construction in 45 or 60 days, Stokes said, instead of what is often 18 months to two years.
“Rhode Island has tens of thousands of acres of sites zoned commercial or industrial with no development on them,” Stokes said. “This is a competitive market. Companies that are ready to invest and grow are not ready to wait for 18 months to two years for permits. That is unacceptable.”
At Quonset, streamlined permitting has been credited with the park’s steady build-out and the “pad ready” program is now being expanded to include 33 of 35 remaining parcels.
Working with the town of North Kingstown and state agencies, the Quonset Development Corporation does engineering and site work on each parcel and then gets state and local permits for a basic outline of a project there.
The parcel is then marketed to companies under the provision that construction can begin within a month.
This method was used for the development of the Wide World of Indoor Sports center, and will now be used on larger scale throughout the park.
Stokes said if the statewide pre-permitting program is successful for the first 10 to 12 properties, subsequent rounds of pre-permitting could follow.