Plans for a proposed second Norwich Business Park have been submitted.

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Concept layout for the proposed Business Park North in the Oakham section of Norwich. (Image courtesy of Henry Resnikoff RFP, Inc.)

NORWICH – Plans for a second business park on former farmland in Occum are being drawn up by submitting a zoning application to the City Council to create a Business Master Plan District for the 384-acre site.

The Norwich Community Development Corporation has a $3.55 million purchase agreement for 17 parcels that include Historic and Doolittle Farms at Interstate 395, Canterbury Turnpike, Lawler Lane, Scotland Road and Route 97.

Norwich officials had included $17 million in the state’s larger federal grant application to buy the land and develop the park, but the state learned in early September that it had not received the federal grant.

NCDC President Kevin Brown said this means the city will go back to its original plan of seeking funding “in the way we were originally doing, downsizing, downsizing” before federal funding became available to develop the park. Applying for the zone change to create a business master plan district is the next step, Brown said.

The plan, called Business Park North, will be presented to the city council, which serves as the city’s zoning board, on October 17. – The zoning board has scheduled a public hearing.

The NCDC purchase option expires on December 31. Funding for the purchase has been discussed by the NCDC board, but Brown hopes the plan is on track.

“We believe we are on track to close by the end of the year,” Brown said of buying the property.

The 17 parcels were put together by current owners M&A Holdings LLC and Byron Brook Country Club LLC for a golf course resort and housing development that collapsed in the early 2000s. The parcels are now zoned for a proposed development district or general commercial development.

A master plan proposal submitted last week shows the property divided into developable parcels, envisioning mostly square or rectangular buildings ranging from 9,000 square feet to 500,000 square feet, some labeled “flexible buildings.”

The plan calls for rebuilding Exit 18 off Route 97. The ramp design also mirrors the new exit 74 eastbound.

“There is no land available for a business park that currently serves the city to provide opportunities for new businesses,” the statement of intent said. “Creating a new business park will allow Norwich to attract business to the uses listed in the BMPD, which will then create jobs, real estate and personal property tax and utility revenue by expanding electric and gas service to the business park,” he said.

The Business Park North plan has been in the works for several years: Norwich Public Utilities contributed $575,000 in pre-development costs, including purchase option payments. The Business Master Plan District was created by the City Council in 2021 in anticipation of the new business park. The district serves as a floating zone that can be applied to large areas planned for large-scale development in the city.

The city’s Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission approved the plan.

The proposal to the City Council-Zoning Board included Mayor Peter Nystrom, Alderwoman Stacey Gould and Alderwoman Swaranjit Singh Khalsa as members of the NCDC board of directors had to withdraw from the discussion. City Manager John Solomon and Norwich Public Utilities General Manager Chris LaRose serve on the NCDC board.

The redesigned exit 18 ramp, a new traffic signal on Route 97 and two new truck-only roundabouts, one at the new Business Park Road and one at the road’s junction with the Canterbury Turnpike, will “prevent local traffic on the Canterbury Turnpike”, the plan states.

Henry Resnikoff, a real estate consultant working with the NCCC to develop plans for the business park, told the NCCC board Sept. 22 that environmental surveys and archeology have been conducted on the property, with no significant findings. Resnikoff noted that a small area is under archaeological evaluation.

Brown told the board he had been in contact with the state Department of Economic and Community Development and said they support the project.

“Achieving the final status of ownership and permitting makes it much easier to market the property, ready to go,” Brown said.

c.bessette@theday.com



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