Thursday, October 28, 2021

Planning for a Community’s Vision of Itself

Mary Holden, Senior Planner.

For over a year now, the city has been discussing the need to address the updating of the community’s official Comprehensive Plan. All communities within the state are required by statute to have such a document and update it regularly.

The Comprehensive Plan for the city is now over 10 years old and the Planning Board was advised at its December meeting that the staff is moving forward to appeal for a Request for Qualifications from firms who might assist the staff and the various advisory boards as to how to move forward to fabricate such an updated document.

Simply put, a Comprehensive Plan guides a community in how to guide growth within a community and lays down principals by which that growth will be permitted. That plan would be developed by the residents and businesses within a community.

Mary Holden, the city’s Senior Planner, would walk the Planning Board through the process and the need to update that plan. Holden would explain “elements” of such a plan which are required.

Key Elements of that plan must include the following:

  • Capital Improvement Plan
  • Future Land Use Plan
  • Transportation Plan
  • General Sanitary Sewer, Solid Waste, Drainage, Potable Water and Natural Ground Water and Aquafer Recharge
  • Conservation
  • Recreation
  • Housing
  • Open Space
  • Coastal Management
  • Inter-Governmental Coordination

Other items may become a portion of our own comprehensive plan and may be added by the community

Holden would go on to report that a consulting firm would probably not be chosen before the end of January or the beginning of February. Once onboard, the consultant would work with staff regarding the development of a schedule for various public meetings amongst numerous groups such as businesses, organizations, governmental entities and regulatory bodies.

In addition to those opportunities for input, a meeting will be scheduled with residents, both seasonal and full-time, to ensure they are part of the process. “Ideally we want to gather the bulk of the public input before the end of season,” said Holden.

Concerning the timeframe on completion, Holden was skeptical as to whether it would be finished before this time next year. “We don’t want to rush this; we want to get it right.” 

Several members of the board were anxious to move forward regarding some of the issues, which they saw as important to them. Holden, however, was reluctant to accept a disjointed approach to the challenges which will face them with the review. “All of these elements are related to each other and should be looked at in a cohesive manner.”

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