Comp plan nears completion
by Tom Chillemi
Although the Middlesex County Comprehensive Plan is still in the process of being updated, the proposed document is much more specific than the 2001 edition.
After months of work by the Citizens Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, the proposed plan has been turned over to the Middlesex Planning Commission for its input.
The comprehensive plan is required by state law and must be updated. The plan is a blueprint and guide for county zoning and planning for the next five years.
Middlesex Director of Community Development Matt Walker said the new comprehensive plan is more specific, especially in relation to the future land-use map and the schedule for turning the plan’s goals and objectives into action.
Walker explained that where the 2001 [current] plan has ambiguous growth-area references, the new draft contains defined areas for commercial, mixed use, and residential development.
While drafting the new plan’s future land use section, the Citizens Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee had two general motivations, said Walker. One goal was to preserve the rural character of the county by limiting the development encroachment into agricultural and forest areas. The second goal was to keep future commercial uses closer to where the population of the county lives—without encouraging strip development.
A second fundamental difference in the new plan is the addition of a schedule to implement the goals, objectives and action steps of the plan, said Walker. “The board of supervisors and planning commission saw the need at the onset of this plan revision to provide a realistic implementation schedule to prioritize the action steps,” he said.
Reviewing the goals, objectives and action steps, while developing a realistic timeframe for implementation, will be the work of the commission and board in the coming weeks, he said.
The commission will hold a work session on the comprehensive plan on Thursday, March 26, at 10 a.m. in the historic courthouse. The public is invited to attend; however, this is not the commission’s public hearing, which will be held later when a final proposal has been hammered out by the commission.
The board of supervisors will also hold a public hearing once the proposed plan is presented to the board.