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WORCESTER, MA-A new comprehensive zoning ordinance has been proposed for the city that is supposed to streamline the permitting process and encourage local development.

The draft of the ordinance has been submitted to the city council by a zoning review committee that consists of lay people and city staff members. According to Stephen Parker, planning director for the city, the its been ten years since the last zoning ordinance was put in place and, he says, “its normal to reevaluate” the zoning at this point.

Parker tells GlobeSt.com that the new zoning attempts to eliminate inconsistencies the document and to streamline the building and permitting process so that rather than a developer being forced to go before three or four commissions, he would only have to go before one or two to get a project permitted. “We think that we accomplished that in this draft,” he says, emphasizing that the committee is still looking for input in the public hearing process.

Parker points out that the committee also tried to add incentives for builders to come to the city. For example, in a mixed-use overlay district, one and a half parking spaces would be required instead of two, which, says Parker “can save quite a bit of space. The development community is looking for things like that.” Parker points out that in addition to physical requirements, the new zoning offers a new philosophical approach as well. “We are encouraging developers to come here. We want the building community and developers to know that they are welcome to come to the city.”

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