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Weekend Buzz | What's in a Plan?
And who gets to decide?
I hope you can get out to the Health Fair today, if only for a little bit. There’s tons of stuff going on!
Today I can only write what I have time to write, so let’s see how far I get.
All the talk about town priorities has me thinking about the Master Plan, which has been mentioned a lot on Facebook, but which I have never seen, and most town residents have never heard of. So, what do you think I did? Of course. I went and looked it up.
Here’s a link to a very well-organized and attractive document from 2018. This is labeled on the town website as the “draft” Master Plan, and I don’t know if that’s because it’s not approved or just because it wasn’t updated on the website after it was approved. It’s also a 176-page document. 😳 But the table of contents is fierce, so luckily I don’t feel like I need to read it cover to cover. Because, no.
So, after a very brief glance, here’s what I’ve learned:
The Master Plan is created by the Planning Board as required by state law, with guidance by a steering committee consisting of members of various Town Boards as well as a few residents, and strives to take into account the town’s past and present, so we can plan for the future.
It lays out the vision of the town (pp. 4-7) and some guiding principals that helped in the creation of the Plan (pp. 8-9), including but not limited to:
Distinguish Burlington as a destination for global organizations, regional companies, individuals, and families.
Promote local business
Expand transportation choices by supporting new infrastructure for walking, bicycling, transit, and improved connections among all modes of travel both within the town and with other parts of the region.
Provide choices in the type and cost of housing to support a range of lifestyles, family sized, and ages as the needs and preferences of Burlington residents change over time.
There’s a detailed breakdown of the many elements considered by the Committee, with maps, charts, graphs, and narrative describing the historical and current context for each:
Natural and Cultural Resources
Open Space and Recreation
Services and Facilities
There are recommendations at the end of each element. At the end there is a master list of recommendations and actions (pp. 152-166) if you’re a Cliff’s Notes kinda person.
This document is pretty cool. Sure, it’s long, but it’s not meant to be digested in one sitting. I think it would be a really amazing if folks in town (particularly those of us on Town Meeting and other town offices) were familiar with it before going into our decision-making process. This seems like it might be the common language we’re lacking to be able to communicate and prioritize effectively.
Toward the end of the document, before the master list of recommendations, there’s a section called “Implementation.” Basically it says that Town Boards should have the Master Plan in mind when they make decisions. Do they? That’s a genuine question. I don’t hear it mentioned often, but chances are it’s there in the background. There are some recommendations for Committees that should be established, like a Master Plan Implementation Committee and Open Space & Town Center Stewardship Committees, but I don’t think we have those committees in place.
Also, the timeframe for implementation is supposed to be 10 years from the adoption of the plan. But, as I mentioned before, I’m not sure if the plan is actually adopted.
So. Some answers, some questions, and some more work to do. But if you’re a nerd like me (and even if you aren’t), click the link and take a peek at the Master Plan to see what Burlington thinks it’s all about - according to our friends and neighbors, who created this plan. I’ll be back with more about this later.
I hope you’re having a good weekend. Keep cool!