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By LINDSAY OLIVIER
NORTH KINGSTOWN â€“ A new permitting tool has been implemented within the Quonset Development Corporation (QDC) that will streamline the permit process on available parcels of land within the business park.
In a special ceremony Monday morning, QDC officials unveiled the Site-Readiness program, an effort that they say will cut the entire permitting process for a potential business looking to develop one of the 35 remaining pacels in the Quonset Business Park down from years to just 90 days.
â€śOur goal was simple,â€ť said Steven J. King, Managing Director of QDC. â€śWe wanted to make it as easy as possible for a business to walk through our doors, see a site and show them they could begin development within weeks.â€ť
King said the entire process couldnâ€™t have been done without involvement and support from the town of North Kingstown, the Department of Environmental Management (DEM), the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC) and the Coastal Resources Management Commission (CRMC).
Because Quonset sits right on the bay and has extensive wetlands areas, partnering with DEM was essential. In addition to the state agencies, QDC has also worked closely with the townâ€™s building, planning and zoning experts to â€śpre-engineerâ€ť the parcels to anticipate likely uses for a variety of industries.
For each of the parcels, a diligence package has been prepared which includes a complete review of the property, an environmental Phase I review, a geotechnical soils review and borings, an utility availability and capacity analysis, concept site plans and permits and a land title review.
The first business that went through this program was the new Wide World of Indoor Sports complex that recently began construction.
â€śAs the economy thaws, Rhode Island is ready to do business,â€ť Governor Lincoln Chaffee said at Mondayâ€™s announcement. â€śCompanies are looking to expand and weâ€™re here for them. Connectivity is the factor that will make the economy strong again, and with the opening of Wickford Junction in the upcoming weeks, weâ€™re doing just that, weâ€™re able to attract business.â€ť
It was also revealed that the QDC initiative will serve as a model for the stateâ€™s own initiative â€śRhode Island-Readyâ€ť, which has been developed by RIEDCâ€™s office of regulatory reform. Like QDC, the stateâ€™s project will reduce time and increase the predictability of getting land developed, buildings constructed and operations up and running.
There are over 50,000 acres of available zoned industrial/commercial properties around the state.
With this plan in place, not only will a developer know everything about a parcel, but theyâ€™ll be given a compliance checklist upfront, so they know what is expected of them too.
Robert Baldwin, President of the Rhode Island Builders Association, said he is excited about the two initiatives because it means workers will return to the Ocean State for employment.
â€śUnemployment in the construction business is at 20 percent,â€ť he said. â€śMany of our trade workers have had to look for jobs outside the state, myself included.â€ť
After a brief presentation by QDC and state officials, there was a ceremonial â€ścutting through the red tapeâ€ť, which King said was a way to signify that both the QDC and the state were ready for businesses to come to Quonset.