MASTER PLAN UPDATE NOW AVAILABLE
At the November 7, 2010 Planning Board meeting, members voted to accept the updated Master Plan. A printed copy is now available on reference in the Randall Libary. The Master Plan is also available online on the Master Plan Committee's website and the Planning Board's website under "Additional Links").
A big thanks to all past and present committee members, and those who have participated in the Town's Master Planning efforts!
Description of Duties
Appointed by the Board of Selectmen in accordance with the requirements of the Town Charter, the nine-member Master Plan Committee includes a representative from the Board of Selectmen, the Planning Board, the Board of Health, the Finance Committee and the Conservation Commission. In addition, there are four members at large.
The Town Charter requires the Master Plan to be updated every five years. In 2000, the Master Plan Committee agreed to undertake an update of the 1996 Master Plan in conjunction with creation of the Community Development Plan required by Executive Order 418 (EO 418). The Executive Order, signed by the Governor in January 2000, states that an unfortunate consequence of the unprecedented economic growth over the past decade is the shortage of housing for individuals and families across a broad range of incomes. EO 418 encourages communities to create a Community Development Plan by providing technical assistance and resources to cities and towns for the purpose of plan creation. The Community Development Plan will be a comprehensive, strategic plan, for the future development of Stow.
The Executive Office of Environmental Affairs and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) completed a build-out analysis of Stow. The analysis shows that Stow's population would double in size. There would be 1,320 more houses, 700 more students, 3.2 million square feet of commercial space and 30 miles of new roads. A more recent study performed by Sudbury Valley Trustees and MAPC studied a variation of the build-out analysis.
The study assumed that 4 of the top 10 parcels targeted for open space preservation were purchased by the town. The difference saved only 131 houses, 70 students, 570,000 square feet of commercial space and 3 miles of road because much of the 4 parcels (Honey Pot Hill Orchards, Pilot Grove Farm, Perkins-McCassey Farm and Carver Hill Orchard) is not developable or is already protected by zoning.
The alternative study clearly showed us that we need some new zoning tools, some new rules, and we need to enlist the power of the marketplace. Without action, what will Stow look like for the next generation? Will we bemoan the loss of Stow's orchards and golf courses? Will Pilot Grove Farm be growing outrageously large houses, or will it still have flocks of sheep? Will Honey Pot Hill Orchards still be growing glorious apples, peaches and pears, or will it look like Birch Hill does now? If you have visited New Jersey recently, you've seen what can happen in just a generation. These are some of the controversial issues being debated.
The Master Plan Committee has solicited feedback through surveys and workshops. 567 people filled out Master Plan surveys. A quick analysis of the survey responses shows that citizens of Stow like the town as it is, and they want to preserve its special character. However, the Master Plan Committee is concerned that the combination of state law, local zoning, and strong development pressure may make preservation difficult if not impossible.
The Committee wants and needs the continued involvement of the citizens of Stow in discussions and decisions. Over the next few months, committee members will be writing draft sections of the Community Development Plan and the Master Plan Update. We hope to have a draft plan circulated for pubic comment over the summer and presentation to a special town meeting late in the year.