Senate passes President Ruggerio’s bill to streamline development on large tracts of state land, such as I-195 Redevelopment area
STATE HOUSE, Providence – The Senate today passed legislation (2019-S-803Aaa) sponsored by President of the Senate Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) that takes a new approach to economic development on large tracts of state land. Spurred by delays and impediments imposed upon the Hope Point Tower proposal for the I-195 Redevelopment District, the bill intends to create a more streamlined process for approvals on these state-owned parcels moving forward.
“We have a rare opportunity for development at the former I-195 land and some other areas across the state,” said Senator Ruggerio. “In the I-195 District, a developer is hoping to invest more than a quarter of a billion dollars to create an iconic structure that redefines the skyline. We should have welcomed this investment with open arms. Instead, we did everything we could to chase the developer away. Thankfully, he’s still here. This process has sent a terrible message to anyone looking to invest in Rhode Island.”
President Ruggerio continued, “This legislation streamlines the approval process for large, contiguous parcels of state land intended for redevelopment, so that progress isn’t stymied by narrow interests.
“These large development districts present extraordinary opportunities and also have a significant impact upon the common good. It is clear that municipalities are not equipped with sufficient flexibility to address the unique needs of these districts while governing their coordinated development. This new approach to economic development will provide a new mechanism with all the tools necessary to handle development in a nimble and coordinated way. It will benefit the entire state of Rhode Island.”
The legislation establishes a process for creating Special Economic Development Districts on state-owned tracts of 20 or more contiguous acres at their inception that are not owned or controlled by the Department of Environmental Management. The special districts would be vested with authority to adopt development plans that include land use, location of buildings, street systems, dimension and height requirements, parking, landscaping, design review and population density.
The I-195 Redevelopment Commission would be granted the same authority as the economic development districts. The legislation establishes a framework for additional districts. However, additional districts other than at the I-195 redevelopment area would have to be approved with an act of the General Assembly.
President Ruggerio began working on these bills last fall, as the Hope Point Tower faced roadblocks.
The legislation has been transmitted to the House of Representatives for consideration.
For more information, contact:
Greg Pare, Press Secretary for the Senate
State House Room 314
Providence, RI 02903