Mayor Taveras has appointed 30+ people to committees that will work to streamline the zoning and permitting policies in the Downtown area, including the Jewelry District and the 195 Land. I am honored to be among the people appointed to the Advisory Committee.
The Advisory Committee is described thusly:
An Advisory Committee will provide feedback on broad development goals and policy issues that affect zoning in the target area.
The committees have not started meeting yet, so I’m not sure exactly how they will roll, but I am for sure open to hearing what you all have to say about it.
See below a press release from the Mayor’s Office outlining the goals of the Committees and listing the members:
Taveras Taps Civic and Business Leaders to Reform Regulations
Dual committees to expedite development and implementation of streamlined zoning and permitting process
PROVIDENCE, RI – The more than 30 civic, government and business leaders who have volunteered to accelerate Mayor Angel Taveras’ effort to implement streamlined planning and zoning regulations will hold their first meetings in the coming weeks. Mayor Taveras has convened the 30+ civic, government and business leaders to work with a federally funded consultant to create better integrated and streamlined planning and zoning regulations in Providence, with a special emphasis on the Jewelry District and new properties made available as part of the relocation of I-195.
The group, organized into two committees, will work with world-renowned design firm Perkins + Will to create a single, streamlined zoning and permitting process that makes it easier and faster to begin development projects and do business in the Jewelry District and downtown Providence. The project is being paid for with a grant from the US Small Business Administration.
The Mayor has asked the group to deliver their recommendations within three months.
Currently, building projects need the approval of as many as four independent boards in certain parts of the City, including the City Plan Commission, the Zoning Board of Review, the Downcity Design Review Committee and the Historic District Commission, all of which have overlapping oversight and often operate without sufficient coordination. The result is an approval process that requires developers to appear and reappear before the various boards numerous times and often takes months to complete.
An Advisory Committee will provide feedback on broad development goals and policy issues that affect zoning in the target area. A Technical Committee will review the finer details of the development options, including impacts to utilities, parking and transportation networks. Outputs from the committee work then inform a set of recommendations on how to create a single, streamlined zoning and permitting process.
At the conclusion of this process, the Taveras administration, in coordination with City Council leadership, will implement recommendations that will shorten the development cycle and ensure properties are developed in ways that best serve Providence and the City’s residents.
“The relocation of I-195 and new development downtown is an incredible opportunity for Providence to attract new businesses, open up new revenue-generating, taxable property, and build a stronger economy in Providence,” said Taveras. “Too often, the efforts of entrepreneurs, business owners and developers get caught up in bureaucratic red tape that has a chilling effect on growth and investment in the City. A direct and streamlined zoning and permitting process will offer efficiency and predictability to those who seek to grow and start their businesses here. I thank the committee members for agreeing to serve and look forward to receiving their recommendations.”
Council Majority Leader Seth Yurdin, who serves on the Advisory Committee, said the City Council looks forward to moving quickly with the Taveras administration to draft new planning and zoning regulations for the city.
“The downtown area represents a unique opportunity for economic development for our city and state. The City Council will work with the administration and all of the stakeholders to reduce red-tape and encourage economic activity while at the same time ensuring quality development projects that add to the fabric of downtown,” said Yurdin.
The Advisory Committee is chaired by Laurie White, president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. The other members of the committee are:
- Councilman Yurdin
- Kevin Flynn representing Governor Lincoln Chafee’s Office
- Brown University Vice President Marisa Quinn
- Johnson & Wales University President John Bowen
- Lifespan Senior Public Affairs Director Stacy Paterno
- Women & Infants Hospital President & CEO Constance Howes
- Jewelry District Association Vice President Arthur Salisbury
- Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Rhode Island President Daniel Egan
- EpiVax, Inc. CEO Dr. Annie DeGroot
- Center for Advancement of Minorities in the Building Trades’ Leroy Belona
- Rhode Island Building Trades Council President Michael Sabitoni
- Executive Director of the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission Edward F. Sanderson
- Greater City Providence Publisher Jef Nickerson
- Hayes & Sherry founder and partner Peter Hayes
- CB Richard Ellis Executive Vice President Constance R. Pemmerl
- Cornish Associates President and CEO Arnold “Buff” Chace
- First Bristol Corporation President James M. Karam
- Gilbane Inc. Chairman and CEO Robert Gilbane
- Paolino Properties Manager Joseph R. Paolino, Jr.
- Betaspring co-founder Allan Tear
“Creating direct and streamlined zoning and permitting in the capital city will lead to predictability for investors – large and small – and help to build a stronger economy in Providence and all of Rhode Island,” said White. “Furthermore, I am confident that this process will help us accelerate the full build-out of the Knowledge District and generate jobs along all points of the skills spectrum.”
The Technical Committee will be chaired by Gilbane Inc. Vice President John Sinnott. The committee’s other members are:
- Rhode Island Department of Transportation Director Michael Lewis
- Brown University Associate Vice President for Planning, Design & Construction Michael McCormick
- Johnson & Wales University Vice President Barbara Bennett
- Lifespan Director of Property Management Jody Bishop
- National Grid President of Rhode Island Distribution Michael Ryan
- Capital Properties Vice President Todd Turcotte
- VHB engineer Renee Codega
- Cornish Associates Principal Stephen Durkee
- Planning consultant and former Providence Planning Director Samuel Shamoon
- Latino Contractors Association President Luis Torrado
- Procaccianti Group Vice President Michael Voccola
- Vision 3 Architects Principal Keith Davignon
- William Kite Architects Principal Christine West
- Steere Engineering’s Susan Bacher
“Mayor Taveras has assembled a tremendous group of experts to advise the city on the technical aspects of drafting new planning and zoning regulations. We are members of the community who live and work in Providence, and we look forward to bringing our experience to bear on the creation of an improved path for future development in the city,” said Sinnott.