The Town of Sturbridge recently prepared a new Master Plan for the first time since 1988. This planning process was complete in the Spring of 2011 and the Planning Board adopted the Plan on June 14, 2011. The following is a brief description of the plan and the process that was undertaken to complete it.
What is a Master Plan?
A Master Plan:
- Tells a community what it looks like today and what direction it has decided it wants to go for the future; it includes assessments of existing resources and issues, projections of future conditions and needs, and consideration of collective goals and desires
- Is a policy guide and provides a framework for the physical development of the municipality. While the emphasis is on buildings and infrastructure, it does not ignore the important social and economic values of the community. The master plan is a method of translating the community's values into specific actions
- Covers a time frame of about 10-20 years; it is assumed that shorter-term reviews will keep it current with the changing needs of the community
- Is closely integrated with other municipal planning documents and initiatives, for example in Sturbridge the recently completed Housing Plan.
The Master Plan is NOT a zoning bylaw, a subdivision regulation, a budget, a capital improvement program or other regulatory document. It is meant to provide the framework for the development of these plan implementation tools.
What is involved in preparing a Master Plan?
- Establishing a Master Plan Steering Committee
- Public outreach and meetings
- Data collection and analysis that will ultimately be rolled into the Master Plan document
- New implementation plan.Information and data are gathered from the other prior planning studies, while current views and opinions are being collected through community events where residents are invited to provide inputs. Other sources include data provided from state census data, and mapping data provided by one of the consulting teams.
What are the major sections of the Master Plan document?
- Community Vision and Goals and Policies Statement
- Land Use
- Economic Development
- Open Space and Recreation
- Natural, Cultural and Historic Resources
- Public Services and Facilities
- Energy and Sustainability
- Implementation Plan