By Mary Macedo, Neighb News Correspondent
On Wednesday, 10/4, the Planning Board and consultant firm VHB welcomed Fairhaven residents to ask questions and help prioritize goals for the final draft of the Fairhaven Master Plan, which sets goals for Fairhaven for the next 20 years.
The Planning Board hired VHB to help engineer a plan for Fairhaven to follow over the next 20 years that will help the town grow and succeed.
The Town Hall auditorium was set up with eight tables, one for section that the MP will focus on: Land Use; Housing, Economic Development; Public Facilities and Services;, Transportation; Sustainability; Historic and Cultural Resources; and Open Space, Recreation, and Natural Resources.
Each table had a member of the Planning Board or VHB there to answer questions from the public. Residents visited each table and could ask questions and give their opinions on the goals they felt were important.
Director of Planning and Economic Development Bill Roth explained that each resident could take three colored dots and stick them on the goals they found the most important in every area.
“It’s to home in on the public’s opinion,” Mr. Roth said.
VHB Principal and Director of Planning, Geoffrey Morrison-Logan explained that the goal was to have the public prioritize what they think is most important in the town.
“Being our third meeting, we have really been listening to the public’s opinion,” Mr. Morrison-Logan said. “They tell us what’s missing and what they like and then we draft the plan accordingly.”
During the meeting the list of goals for each category were laid out on the tables to be viewed and commented/ voted on by residents.
Some goals for land use in Fairhaven included the importance of balancing growth and preservation, strategically redeveloping areas of Route 6, and promoting small, local businesses.
A few residents walking around had mentioned the importance of fixing up abandoned or unused lots in town. Many residents said it was very important to them for all abandoned properties are taken care of.
Some important housing goals that were presented including keeping new residential housing developments in existing residential areas. Another important goal was to create affordable housing for younger generations and for families of all incomes, but also to continue to provide affordable housing for the elderly.
A lot of residents were very involved with the Economic Development goals table. One of the most important goals was to incorporate the waterfront into a more commercial area and to make the waterfront more accessible to the community. Another big goal was to maintain and fill the occupancies on Route 6. Many residents said that they think having new businesses in the area in the next 20 years is of great of importance to them, especially in regards to small/ local businesses.
Transportation was another area with important goals such as maintaining a friendly bicycle and pedestrian community, but also increasing the use of public transit like buses and cabs.
Some goals in the area of public facilities and services were to continue to build on the senior center, as well as senior activities. Another goal was to maintain/renovate older public buildings to make sure they meet the needs of the town.
Open space and recreation goals were very important to the residents as well. One goal was to preserve farmland, as well as set aside more land for conversation and water supply protection.
Another big topic was the historic and cultural resources of Fairhaven. Some goals were to establish an historic district in Fairhaven and to help town residents and tourists better understand the historic aspects of the town. The most important goal in this area was to link the historic elements of Fairhaven to the economic development, such as tourism.
Tourism and the waterfront were also of great importance to residents. Some said they would like to see more small restaurants and boutiques near the waterfront, where tourists can walk from place to place.
The main goal in the sustainability are is to create a system that tracks and reports on how well the town’s sustainability performance is. Many residents also voiced that they would like to continue to improve energy efficiency and take precautions for climate change.
New town resident John Walker walked from table to table viewing the different goals for the town.
“I am new to town, so I am here to figure out what exactly the plans are,” Mr. Walker said. “I would just like to see the town just be as overall receptive as possible for residents and visitors.”
He added that it was great to see the town taking the public’s opinions and using them towards the Master Plan.
Mr. Morrison-Logan explained that it was the last outreach meeting before a final draft is created.
Mr. Morrison-Logan said that the meetings have produced a lot of great feedback from residents and it will be great seeing the town move forward in the coming years.
“We will take the public’s feedback and work with the planning board to finalize the plan,” Mr. Morrison-Logan said. “We will wrap up the final plan in a month or so and begin to implement the plan end of this year, early next year.”
To view the draft of the Master Plan 2040 and leave your comments or feedback visit http://www. fairhaven-ma.gov/pages/ FairhavenMA_MasterPlan/index
Click here to download the entire 10/12/17 issue: 10-12-17 Manjiro_REV
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