Originally published in The Weekly Packet, August 9, 2018
Town of Brooksville begins comp plan update
by Rich Hewitt
The town has kicked off the process of updating its comprehensive plan with a survey and a planned visioning workshop later this month.
Copies of the survey are available on the town website at brooksvillemaine.org or at the town office. To request a copy, call 326-4518 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The visioning workshop is scheduled for Thursday, August 16, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The completed surveys are due by the end of the month.
The town’s plan was last updated in 2006, according to Selectman John Gray, who will also serve as chairman of the comprehensive planning committee.
“You’re supposed to do it every 10 years, so we’re a little behind,” he said.
The selectmen earlier this year appointed a committee to oversee the planning process, which includes the town’s selectmen and members of the planning board as well as other community members. Those members are: Norman Alt, Richard Bakeman, Denis Blodgett, Earl Clifford, Don Condon, Bud Fisher, John Gray, Jonathan Hall, John Kimball, Allen Kratz, Andrew Ladd, Stephen Lindsay, Chris Raphael, Nancy Sanford, Darcy Snow, Hal Snow, Charles Tarr and Peter Van der Eb. They have met several times, including sessions with representatives from the Hancock County Planning Commission, who will work with the town on the plan’s update.
A comprehensive plan provides a snapshot of a town and provides a road map for the direction residents want the town to move in. in the future. It will contain a wide variety of demographic information about the town as well as guidelines for town officials as they go about the business of the town. It can influence town operations, capital planning, grants and, as a policy document, it will be the basis for any land use ordinances the town may want to pursue, according to a press release.
“We need to find out what people are interested in,” Gray said. “We accomplished what they wanted in the last [comprehensive plan]. That was fresh water access, and we got that with Walker Pond. Now we need to see what else they want. We need to see what people think is important and what are the important issues for us to be working on.”
That’s where the survey and the visioning meeting come in. The 12-page document includes questions covering different aspects of town life, including views on development, rural life and town infrastructure, marijuana sales, property taxes and broadband service, among others. Most of the questions apply to both summer and year-round residents, but there are some that are specific to each group.
In addition to the survey, the comprehensive planning committee plans to hold a series of meetings during the coming months, beginning with the visioning session later this month. Public participation in those sessions is an important part of the planning process. It’s important for the townspeople to be involved, Gray said. The final plan will include recommendations for the town’s future and will be used when the town seeks state grants for local projects.
“They look at what the people want,” he said. “It’s important for us to have that when we go looking for state funding for grants.”
The town has not yet allocated funding to cover the cost of developing the plan. For this year, Gray estimated they would need up to $2,800. He said the selectmen will likely schedule a special town meeting to authorize that expenditure.
Once the committee has completed a draft comprehensive plan, it will be presented to voters for approval. The approved plan also must receive state approval.