Freeport draft Comprehensive Plan goes green

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FREEPORT — The 2010 draft version of the Comprehensive Plan has been updated to include a new energy conservation section and to promote environmentally friendly practices.

Town Planner Donna Larson said some of the differences between the 1994 Comprehensive Plan and the draft 2010 plan relate to affordable housing, diversity of jobs and businesses, protecting natural, historic, and archaeological resources, maintaining community facilities and transportation opportunities.

Since the last Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 1994, Freeport has gone through many changes, Larson said, adding that new housing starts are lower than in the past, population trends are lower than predicted, commercial growth has slowed, energy prices have fluctuated and the long term availability of fossil fuels is uncertain.

The board drafted a new section of the Plan to address ways to meet future energy needs and recycling efforts. The section focuses on energy conservation and renewable energy resources, but energy recommendations are also found throughout the plan.

The forestry section recommends the preservation of management woodlots to maintain a local source of lumber; the housing section suggests relaxing the accessory apartment standards so larger houses could include a unit to lower heating costs; and planning for future public transit discusses ways to reduce vehicle reliance.

The Planning Board has been working to update the new Comprehensive Plan since 2007. Larson said the board collected data from a survey sent to community boards, committees, farmers, professionals and residents to gather information about what topics were important and what issues needed to be addressed. Based on the information, the board developed recommendations and returned to the boards and committees, businesses and residents to verify their work.

“We received a lot of information from groups like the Housing Trust and Historical Society and Shellfish Commission,” she said. “Using that information we were able to make changes and draft ideas and recommendations.”

The draft Comprehensive Plan includes a document entitled Freeport Data, Facts, Trends, and Maps that can further provide information in the development of goals or policies.

Although the adoption of the 2010 Comprehensive Plan has been tabled for a few months, the Town Council is expected to receive the draft Comprehensive Plan at its next meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 7.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net

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