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DEVENS — Devens Enterprise Commission (DEC) was honored by the Pioneer Institute as the winner of the 16th Annual Better Government Competition for its unified permitting system for the redevelopment of Fort Devens.

The DEC combines the roles of the Board of Health, Conservation Commission, Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals and Historical Commission in one permitting body, issuing unified permits for development within the Devens Regional Enterprise Zone, which is comprised of portions of Ayer, Harvard and Shirley.

Chosen from a field of over 298 entries from across the nation, DEC Chairman William Marshall acknowledged the importance of the commission’s work in helping the Devens redevelopment process and serving as a model for the state’s new expedited permitting law, Chapter 43D.

Gov. Deval Patrick keynoted the event and acknowledged the importance of the DEC’s unified permitting system in attracting firms such as Bristol-Myers Squibb to the Commonwealth.

“Speed to market, as exemplified by Devens, is key,” Patrick said.

Marshall stressed the importance of a master plan or reuse plan grounded in a well-designed citizen participation process, consistency between the reuse plan, zoning and high-quality regulations, and a professional staff for streamlined permitting to operate successfully.

“The DEC is successful because these components operate in harmony as part of our unified permitting process,” he said.