Council Shooting to Approve Comprehensive Plan by Fall

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Watertown Town Hall

The Comprehensive Plan – the major planning document that will shape Watertown’s future – will likely be approved this fall. 

The Town C0uncil’s Economic Development and Planning Committee discussed how they want to unveil the latest draft and collect input from town officials, town residents and others this week. The whole process will likely stretch into the fall.

The Comprehensive Plan not only covers zoning rules and development, it also has recommendations for public transportation, bicycle and pedestrian issues, parks, and open space.

Councilor Susan Falkoff did not like the idea of having the draft go to town department heads before the general public got to see it. The subcommittee agreed that the document should be published online so all can take a look.

While they want to get the rules in place soon, so they can apply to developments proposed for the town, Councilors said the document is a hefty one, however, and they time to go through it carefully. Council Vice President Steve Corbett said he looked at it for a day and a half and still had not read the whole thing.

Councilor Vincent Piccirilli said it is key to review the entire document so people can bring up questions about specific recommendations and highlight those that need more work.

“The last thing we want is to approve it and a year later say, ‘Where did that come from?’” Piccirlli said.

The subcommittee will recommend to the Town Council that a six step process be taken to approve the Comprehensive Plan: 

  1. Publish the plan on the Watertown website and collect comments from town department heads and the public
  2. Schedule a public forum at the Town Council, but not until after the budget has been approved on June 10
  3. Hold a joint meeting of the Planning Board and Economic Development and Planning Subcommittee
  4. Produce a final draft of the Comprehensive Plan
  5. Hold a public hearing on the plan at the Planning Board and have the board adopt it
  6. Hold a public hearing on the plan at the Town Council, and have the council vote on it

Holding the proposed meetings and writing the final draft will likely mean the final vote by the Council will not take place until at least September.

Even when the plan is approved by both the Council and Planning Board, the individual zoning changes will have to be approved by the Planning Board and Council.

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