Senate OKs micro-zone act sponsored by Satchell
Bill aimed at West Warwick could be used for distressed areas statewide
STATE HOUSE – The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Adam J. Satchell to encourage redevelopment of distressed neighborhoods, including areas of West Warwick.
The bill (2019-S 0057) would create “micro-zones” in exceptionally distressed areas and encourage revitalization in those zones through a combination of expedited permitting and tax and fee waivers.
The bill will now go to the House of Representatives, where Rep. Robert D. Phillips (D-Dist. 51, Woonsocket, Cumberland) is sponsoring companion legislation (2019-H 5388).
Under the proposal, a city or town council would be allowed to designate one or more areas as a micro-zone in which the rehabilitation efforts receive special consideration.
The designation would target substantially vacant buildings and allow those who wish to rehabilitate them to get fee-free, expedited building permits and to get tax credits reimbursing them for the state sales tax they pay on all building materials, furnishings and fixtures for the building. The owner would also be eligible for a 10-year property tax stabilization agreement with the community. In communities West Warwick’s size, individual zones would be limited to 20 acres. The designation would allow the town to more effectively market West Warwick as an attractive place to set up a business.
The program is different from the Municipal Economic Development” (MED) zone program, under which the village of Arctic has been designated to encourage development. Micro-zones would target smaller areas of extreme distress, and would concentrate on redevelopment of existing structures, rather than new buildings.
“We have plenty of buildings that could be viable locations if we offer the right incentives. But we need to make sure the programs allow for redevelopment, as opposed to just new construction, because that’s the sort of opportunity we have in West Warwick. The buildings are already there, and if we help entrepreneurs make the changes they need to use them, and give them incentives to want to be part of West Warwick, we’ll be laying out the welcome mat for the new businesses and jobs we need in our town,” said Senator Satchell (D-Dist. 9, West Warwick).
West Warwick once had retail sections in many of its villages, but today, despite attempts in the past to reinvigorate it, many of its buildings remain empty and derelict, shadows that suggest a prosperity that once was, but is now frustratingly out of reach.
Senator Satchell thinks that micro-zones would be a way to lure businesses to other parts of West Warwick, not just Arctic.
“The status quo isn’t doing much for our town. I hope that these new incentives will help bring developers to our town and add some much-needed economic development in villages like Phenix and Crompton, as well as Arctic,” said Senator Satchell.
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903