According to Cumberland’s 2009 public opinion survey, a majority of residents support limiting housing permits and support cluster development in order to preserve our rural character.
Based on this survey, a Comprehensive Plan was developed to drive a smart growth strategy for the town. But suddenly we hear that critical segments of this Plan are to be abandoned.
The Ad-Hoc Committee’s recommendation to the Town Council (one which was accepted and is on its way to the Planning Board) is to scratch all four-acre zoning and to eliminate all initiatives for cluster zoning. Such changes would erode the rural fabric upon which this town was built and in which it continues to take great pride.
Personally I am disturbed by this latest initiative by the council for two reasons: amending the rural zoning of the town is a massive shift away from the town’s goals of preserving its rural character (such dramatic change should be a collaborative and thorough process that includes robust resident participation), and the Comprehensive Plan suggests development in certain areas and no development in others, but this amendment scratches all attempts at controlled growth and offers no thoughtful revisions to preserve areas of no-growth.
We have comprehensive plans so that as things change, we remember to stay true to our vision for the town and create thoughtful, long-term solutions. Too often towns are tempted by immediate requests for development and ad-hoc changes are made. Let us not make these same hasty mistakes.