Yarmouth public's turn to comment on final draft of revised Comp Plan

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YARMOUTH — The Town Council is reviewing the final draft of the Comprehensive Plan and is expected to hold a public hearing on the recommendations Thursday, Oct. 7.

The updated plan was formally presented to the council by the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee co-chairwomen, Esther Pappas and Mary Williamson, on Sept. 2. Since then, the council has met twice to go through the document that has taken four years to develop.

The plan focuses on five areas that are important to the town and ultimately interconnected – the village area, diversity of population and housing, historic character, Route 1, and rural character and open space.

Council Vice Chairman Tom Renehan served on the Planning Board for six years and spent two as chairman and has seen the process from start to finish. He said although the public has been encouraged to participate in the plan development, not many people have come forward.

“It is not uncommon to invite the public to participate and have little to no response,” he said. “This is important and there are changes happening, so we hope at least a few people will come out to offer input.”

He said the implementation of form-based code and the creation of a historic building inventory are two of the biggest changes to the proposed 2010 Comprehensive Plan.

Form-based code is a shift from a use-based code, and focuses on the design and placement of buildings instead of the specific use of the property. Renehan said it is a modern approach to regulating growth and development and zoning.

The plan also suggests creating a policy that will maintain buildings with historic significance, while allowing for improvements, expansions and updates to the buildings.

The plan proposes a survey of potentially historic buildings and structures and developing a list of locally significant historic properties. It suggests conducting a design analysis of historic buildings to catalog the key elements that need to be considered in the modification of historically significant buildings, and creating an advisory review process for changes to the exteriors of designated historic buildings or structures.

“I think these changes are good for the times and the community. They will help us preserve what we like about the town, but will move us forward and allow us to grow a little more than we had in the past,” Renehan said. “I hope the public reviews the draft plan and comes to the (Oct. 7) meeting to let us know how they feel about these recommendations.”

Town Manager Nat Tupper said the council has been reviewing the plan section by section.

“This is the first update since 1993, and has been four years in the making,” he said. “After further review and the public hearing, the council will adopt the plan and send it to the state for approval.”

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

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