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'How ready do we have to be?'

Permitting delay condemned

Equipment being used to build the industrial park access road sits silent after the workday’s end Tuesday. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
February 04, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — To former Town Councilor Kenneth O'Brien, recent talk of "expedited permitting" should have been done years ago.

"One can look as far back as the minutes of the Planning and Development subcommittee meeting of Dec. 7, 2006 when [Economic Development Director Sandy Acly] remarked that this should be looked into, because there might be some money in it for Southbridge," O'Brien noted by e-mail. "In fact, there might have been. Through the state's MORE program, grants of up to $150,000 were being provided to establish the organizational infrastructure to implement such a program."

According to the Mass. Municipal Association, the Massachusetts Opportunity Relocation and Expansion Jobs program started the following spring. It was intended to help "finance infrastructure improvements to spur economic development," by teaming communities and for-profit businesses to make improvements "such as water and sewer connections, roadway enhancements, and utility upgrades."

That program was killed last year due to the recession. One-time $60,000 grants to help towns prepare an expedited permitting process (defined by MGL Chapter 43D), including "professional staffing assistance, local government reorganization, and consulting services," are still listed as being available on the state's Housing and Economic Development Web site, which hasn't been updated since March 2009.

See Thursday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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