WORCESTER – The longtime complaint from private contractors regarding the time it takes to be permitted for new development in Worcester will once again be addressed on the city council floor this week.
District 3 City Councilor George Russell has filed an order that is asking City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. to review what Russell calls “a series of duplications” in the permitting process.
“I spoke about this in the Fall but after speaking with the City Clerk I decided to present a formal request,” Russell said in a phone interview on February 10
Russell was referring to the Oct. 10, 2017 meeting where a different order regarding erosion control near catch basins and environmentally sensitive areas were different for the Worcester Department of Public Works as it was for the standards that the city and Conservation Commission held private contractors to.
During the Oct. 10 meeting, Russell branched off the order to discuss the frustrations he hears from private contractors regarding a series of meetings and hearings where they feel that they’re duplicating their efforts. Russell is asking to see if this process can be consolidated or streamlined.
“It is not unusual for a person building a new house or a small business to have to go to multiple meetings at multiple Boards. Many of these ordinances address similar issues,” Russell said. “These Boards sometimes get the same recommendations about the similar issues from the same city staff.”
Russell used the example of plans regarding water runoff. If a home builder is within 100 feet of a catch basin, they could wait months to get an approval from Conservation Commission after showing a run off plan. Once approved the builder would take the same plans and present it to the Planning Board, and possibly the Zoning Board of Appeals, to get the same approval.
“Many times builders will ask the Zoning Board of Appeals to ask for a Variance or Special Permit and then have to wait months to go to Planning or Conservation for other routine items,” Russell said. “Maybe the ZBA can issue those at the same time.”
Russell said that the order is an effort to help spark the building of reasonable priced market rate housing and or assist with small business growth.
“My hope is that the administration can come back with a plan to eliminate the duplication that goes on in the whole permitting process,” Russell said.
- There are several orders regarding Public Safety and Traffic control. Councilors At-Large Moe Bergman and Kate Toomey, and District 1 City Councilor Sean Rose have all filed such orders.
- Councilor-At-Large Konstantina B. Lukes has filed an order asking the City Manager to consider allowing members of Boards and Commissions be allowed to serve on more than one providing there are no conflicts of interest.
- Mayor Joseph M. Petty is asking the City Manager to work with his office and other “key stakeholders” to form a targeted plan to invest in the city’s multi-family housing
Tuesday’s meeting will start at 6:30 PM and will be held in the Esther Howland Chamber in Worcester’s City Hall.