Please Bear With Us. . .
From the East Greenwich Planning Department:
Things are just not the same as they were last year, last week, yesterday. . . . We know it is an uncertain time for everyone. But we are still here working for you and while it is not exactly business as usual, we continue to accept applications, conduct plan reviews, and queue up submissions for public hearings. We wanted to take a moment to let everyone associated with the land development process in East Greenwich know that we are doing everything we can to ensure that your projects do not grind to a halt in the current health emergency. We are hard at work developing protocols for the public process that is required as part of any land development, subdivision, or zoning relief request in Town. Although our review boards are taking a short hiatus following the local Declaration of Emergency on March 16, 2020, they will soon be back in session, likely in the virtual realm, and ready to hear all about your projects! Please watch for future communications from us containing more specific guidance for applicants, their representatives and expert teams, as well as for abutters and other interested parties. In the meantime, read on for some basic info to get you started and please feel free to pass this along to anyone else who might be affected.
Town Board and Commission Activity
The Planning Department is accepting applications for all items requiring review and approval by the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Review, and Historic District Commission. Our strong preference is that everything - application forms, plans, studies, reports, photos, and any other supporting documentation - be submitted electronically. We are still accepting hard copy (paper) submissions by appointment only at the Planning Department Office at 111 Peirce Street. Call 886-8645 for scheduling. If you currently have a proposal already in progress, our staff will be in touch directly about your timeline. If you are an abutter (neighbor - or other affected party) to a project already in the review process, we strongly encourage you to reach out to us at your earliest convenience to make sure you are given every opportunity for equitable and effective representation in the new "virtual public hearing" platform.
The New Normal
You have probably already heard that some of the requirements around how public bodies will convene and do business have changed in light of the current crisis. The time-honored tradition of sitting together, in person, in Council Chambers is temporarily suspended.
(See side panel)
The Town has chosen to use a video conferencing product called Zoom
for hosting local public meetings during the current emergency. Zoom is available as an app - you can use it on your smart phone or personal computer for free - or if you prefer not to download anything, you will be able to view our proceedings desk-top via web based browser. Deluxe "for-a-fee" versions also exist and many of you may already be using those in your own personal or business dealings. You will also always have the low-tech option of simply phone dialing-in for audio-only. Specific instructions for each option will be provided as part of every posted agenda. We are encouraging people to get free Zoom accounts and start exploring the site - maybe even watch some tutorials (you're stuck at home in front of your computer anyway, right?!). This will only help you be better equipped for virtual public engagement when the time comes.
As has always been the case, crisis reveals character - and we have seen some powerful examples of cooperation and creativity over the last week or so. It has inspired us to provide better service than ever and we hope that it continues beyond the immediate term. If you have any suggestions for how we can adapt, innovate, or communicate in this "new normal," please reach out.
Our contact information can be found via the Town's web page. Thanks and stay safe.