Board seeks public input for Master Plan update
August 06, 2009
WAKEFIELD — What's on your wish list for the town?
An opportunity to speak up and present your ideas about Wakefield's land use future is coming up next week when the planning board hosts its third public forum on the overhaul of the town's Master Plan.
Community members are invited to attend the meeting to be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 13 at the East Wakefield Fire Station on Route 153. The board hosted public input sessions at the town hall in June and last month at the Greater Wakefield Resource Center.
Town Planner Kathy Menici said public input is critical in the process to update the town's Master Plan. The current plan was created in 2001 with input from public surveys and hearings.
The board decided to hold meetings outside town hall and in the villages to make it easier or more accessible for the public to share their thoughts and opinions on the town's future growth and the direction they would like to take, said Menici, whether that be towards adding more conservation land or increasing its commercial base.
Menici described the sessions thus far as very informal and a relaxed environment for the exchange of ideas. "A lot of the discussion has focused on the need for increased employment opportunities in town, economic development and the possible locations in town that may occur. There has been brief discussion on natural and historic resource protection. She said a core group of residents has attended the sessions so far, but that the board would encourage input from as many residents as possible.
Some background information on the Master Plan, a copy of the current Master Plan, and a blog are accessible from the town's web site, www.wakefieldnh.com. Fourth grade students at the Paul School are also getting involved and will use the update in a history, art and essay project that will be unveiled later next school year.
Planners state that the key factor in creating a Master Plan that is truly representative of what the citizens of the community want for their town is public participation.
Residents are invited to serve on a committee that will help research and write various sections of the Master Plan. During 2009 in addition to an updated Vision Statement, the Planning Board plans to work on chapters to address Land Use, Community Facilities, Natural Resources, Natural Hazards, and Cultural and Historic Resources.
• The Land Use section translates the vision statements into physical terms. Based on a study of population, economic activity, and natural, historic, and cultural resources, it discusses existing conditions and the proposed location, extent, and intensity of future land use.
• The Community Facilities section identifies facilities needed to support the future land use pattern and to meet the projected needs of the community. Included in this section are schools, recreation, library, Fire, Police, Transfer Station, water, sewer, etc.
• The Natural Resources section identifies and inventories any critical or sensitive areas or resources, not only those in the local community, but also those shared with abutting communities. This section provides a factual basis for any land development regulations that may be enacted to protect natural areas and should include a local water resources management and protection plan.
• The Natural Hazards section documents the physical characteristics, severity, frequency, and extent of any potential natural hazards to the community. It should also identify those elements of the built environment at risk from natural hazards as well as extent of current and future vulnerability that may result from current zoning and development policies.
• The Cultural and Historic Resources section identifies these resources and protects them for rehabilitation or preservation from the impact of other land uses.
Those who can't commit to a committee can attend the public input sessions, participate via the blog or submit ideas in writing to the planning office. The public is also invited to sign up online for the Master Plan update mailing list.