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Yarmouth 'Planapalooza' to focus on economic development

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Yarmouth 'Planapalooza' to focus on economic development

YARMOUTH — The town is consolidating its usually months-long planning process for the first time into a long weekend to produce a blueprint for economic development.

Often known as a charrette, residents will have the opportunity to meet with planners, architects, engineers and artists to mold and shape a new master plan for the Route 1 corridor and create a new zoning code.

The session is being called Planapalooza 2012, Town Planner Vanessa Farr said.

"For the public, what's different is that it is an intense planning session, multiple days all in a row, instead of meetings monthly for years," Farr said. "This is the community's public hearing."

This model allows the town to put together a planning model for the town's economic and development future over five days, which Farr said she hopes will promote more involvement by community members.

The town hopes to have tangible drawings and plans presented at the closing of the long weekend, which runs from Sept. 13-17. The actual zoning code will be written in four to six weeks after the planning session, Farr said.

"Yarmouth will be welcoming new development applications through a new process by late winter under this new review process," she said.

The discussion will be aimed at developing a new code more focused on form of development and less focused on use, with buildings that are designed to respect the town's character in outside appearance, with less of a focus on what is inside, Farr said.

The planning session will be run by the Gardiner-based consulting firm Town Planning & Urban Design Collaborative. The firm will also be looking at environmental sustainability projects, such as storm water management, and connectivity planning that focuses on the town's walkability.

Planapalooza will start at 6 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 13, at the Yarmouth High School cafeteria with a hands-on design workshop, followed by an interim review Saturday at the American Legion Log Cabin, 196 Main St. The closing presentation will be made Monday. All the events include some variation of free food, including a pizza party, a chocolate reception and a community soup dinner, with a food donation to the Food Pantry.

The Town Hall Community Room will be open every day of the planning session for an "Open Design Studio."

The total cost of the weekend is $50,000, which includes design and zoning code, plus the cost of a new permitting process. The funding for the project comes from the town's economic development fund.

Last week, the town hosted a presentation that included discussion about the town's future, as well as, a short bus tour around the Route 1 corridor. About 50 people attended, Farr said.

Will Graff can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or wgraff@theforecaster.net. Follow Will on Twitter: @W_C_Graff.