Originally published in The Weekly Packet, July 24, 2014
Blue Hill Planning Board eyes comp plan update
by Rich Hewitt
The Blue Hill Planning Board is gearing up to try another update of the town’s comprehensive plan.
The board discussed the issue at a recent meeting and although no formal vote was taken, Chairman Peter d’Entremont said there was a consensus among board members that they could do something as early as this fall.
Although the board has no budget that would allow it to conduct formal studies or develop questionnaires, d’Entremont said there are still things the board could do without spending a lot of money.
One of the prime reasons for a comprehensive plan update, he said, was that the current plan is very old. It was adopted in 1999, so the information in it is now 15 to 16 years old. And even the information in the proposed plan that voters defeated in 2006 is already eight years old now, he said.
“There’s a lot of data out there,” he said. “We could do a lot of this without it costing a lot. This would get the ball rolling.”
In addition to updating information in the plan, d’Entremont said the board could also schedule discussions with specific interest groups on different issues facing the town, on their priorities and the direction in which the town is moving. He listed possible issues for discussion such as hospital expansion, the economic situation downtown, traffic and parking and the future of South Street.
“There may be other discussion issues that we’re not tuned into,” he said.
D’Entremont noted that the last attempt to update the comprehensive plan was rejected in 2006, just before the recession hit.
“The economic landscape changed in the recession,” he said. “Things are coming back, but a lot of projects didn’t pan out.”
D’Entremont added that although it is outdated, the current plan and the failed 2006 proposal did cover all the issue that needed to be covered, they just didn’t address issues in great depth.
“We can build on that,” he said. “We won’t be starting from scratch.”
The board had looked at updating the plan more than a year ago but had backed away from the project in favor of updating the town’s site plan review ordinance.
Although he said the board could start on the update this fall, d’Entremont added that some of the work could begin before that, depending on the agendas for the planning board meetings.