DESCRIPTION OF PLANNING BOARD DUTIES
A five member elected board with one appointed voting associate member, the Stow Planning Board has specific statutory requirements. The Board reviews and approves the division of land under the State Subdivision Control Law (MGL. Ch. 41) and the Stow Subdivision Rules and Regulations; serves as a special permit granting authority under the State Zoning Act (MGL. Ch. 40A) and the Stow Zoning Bylaw; and guides the process of Zoning Bylaw amendments under the State Zoning Act (MGL. Ch. 40A). Members are elected to five-year terms
except for associate members, who are appointed yearly.
Under State Law, the Board is charged with the responsibility of protecting the health, safety and welfare of Stow's residents. Guided by the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Stow Zoning Bylaw, the 2010 Stow Master Plan and citizen's comments and concerns, the Board strives to preserve and enhance the integrity of Stow's character through the use of these regulatory tools, while safeguarding property owners' rights. The Board recommends and specifies changes to development proposals to achieve these
goals. Board members and staff strive to work with both project proponents and citizens to help shape projects so as to minimize the impact to the com
*PLANNING NEWS AND UPDATES*
Gleasondale Village Revitalization Plan
A team of UMASS Graduate level students from the Center for Economic Development have completed Phase 1 of a Gleasondale Village Revitalization Plan. Phase II of the project was announced on Septmeber 4th and will include the formation of an Advisory Team made up of Town Officials, business owners and Residents as well as five focus groups to delve into the particular issues surrounding the future viability of Gleasondale Village and the mill that helps define it. Click here for a link to the Phase I Final Report.
Because this effort was so successful, the CED has agreed to participate in a second phase Gleasondale project to be conducted during the fall semester.
Phase II will focus on an implementation plan that is based upon the ideas, concepts and approaches presented in the initial plan and will be based upon maximum citizen input which will include the following:
- An Advisory Team will be formed to guide the project. It will include residents of Gleasondale, town officials, and business owners. It is expected to have up to seven members and meet three times.
- Five Focus Groups will be formed. They will include a Land Use Focus Group, an Environmental/Conservation/Recreational Focus Group, an Industrial/Commercial Focus Group, a Residential Focus Group and an Infrastructure/Capital Program Focus Group.
- A Village wide charrette (forum) will be organized which is intended to determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to the Village. It will also gain insights from the participants concerning Village goals, objectives and priorities.
- A “Ground Truthing” Session will be organized where a group of mill owners, town managers and small town planners will be brought to Stow to assess the ideas developed from the focus groups and the charrette.
- A draft plan will be prepared by CED that will be presented to Advisory Team after it has been vetted by Gleasondale citizens . The Advisory Team will recommend revisions and refinements.
- A Final Plan will be developed by CED and presented before a formal meeting of the Board of Selectmen and Planning Board.
The primary goals for this phase are:
- To gain knowledge of the concerns and desires of the citizens of Gleasondale concerning preservation of historic identity, recreation opportunities, housing, quality of life and economic vitality of the Village.
- To determine and prioritize the critical actions that should guide the future of the Village
- To “test the practicality of the ideas before a panel experts (mill owners, town managers, small town Planners).
- To create an implementation plan that will be designed to guide the development of Gleasondale over the next ten years.
It is important that Gleasondale Village residents, property owners and business owners be involved in this planning process. Neighborhood participation is crucial to a successful plan. Please understand that your commitment would be for a finite period of time with a minimum amount of meetings.
If you have any questions or would like to participate on one of the five Focus Groups or the Advisory Team, please contact Karen Kelleher at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jesse Steadman at email@example.com or by phone at 978-897-5098. Fill out this form online if you are interested in participating!
The Visual Preference Survey Ended on September 2nd. Visit the Planning Board Blog for continuing updates on the results.
Lower Village is a historic gateway to Stow and our largest business district. Tak part in the Visual Prefernce Survey to help define the future look and feel. The survey can also be accessed via Stow's Planning Blog at www.stowplanning.wordpress.com. Staty tuned for further updates as the process moves forward.
Obtaining final design and construction funds is a crucial step in the traffic planning process for Lower Village. To help residents see and respond to the physical changes that the final plan will likely entail the Planning Department has created a poster of current and proposed aspects of the Lower Village streetscape. The ultimate aim is to increase pedestrian and vehicular safety, to make Lower Village easier and more convenient to navigate and to create a defined streetscape that will encourage the type of future uses residents would like to see in the village. Have a look at the poster below or see it in the Town Building entrance the next time you stop in
FEMA PRELIMINARY FLOOD INSURANCE RATE MAPS HAVE ARRIVED FOR PUBLIC REVIEW
FEMA has delivered new floodplain maps to the Town of Stow. These preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) are available for review on the third floor of the Town Building or through the above links, or on the Planning Board Blog. Updated FIRM maps indicate the extent of flood potential based on the most current rainfall, elevationa and other choice data. Structures that are located in the 100 year floodplain are required to purchase a flood insurance policy. These updated maps can help property owners determine if their properties will require flood insurance, or in many instances, if their structure's have been released from the requirement to purchase flood insurance. If you believe your property has been wrongfully shown in the floodplain, you have the option to appeal the
decision. The process can be confusing to those who are trying to understand it for the first time. To help residents navigate the updated FIRMs, the Planning Department has created a list of documents that detail frequently asked questions, various definitions, the appeal process and more. Links to the various documents are located above and on the Planning Department Blog.
The first thing you should do if you believe your property may be affected, is to locate your property on one of the Planning Department's FIRM Data maps, shown as FIRM_Panel. The maps distributed from FEMA display more detailed information, and are listed in the folder as FEMA_official_panels. However, data under the offficial FEMA maps does not delineate specific structures affected by the update, and therefore the Stow Planning Department's maps may help you quickly identify whcih official map to consult. Using data from FEMA, the Planning Department overlayed Stow parcel data, satellite imagergy and the building footprints of affected structures to help residents quickly identify if their property has been affected. **However, the Planning Department's FIRM Data maps cannot be used to make any
official determinations** If you wish to appeal or verify your property's status regarding the preliminary maps, you must consult the official FEMA FIRM Preliminary maps available for viewing in the Planning Department office or on this website.
The Review Process
FEMA will be contacting the Planning Department this winter to instruct the Town of Stow to post notice for an official 90 day appeal period. The notice will run in area newspapers for two consecutive weeks. During this 90 day appeal period, the public can review the FIRM maps and begin the process of requesting a letter of amendment from FEMA if they choose. All amendment requests should be delivered to the Building Inspector, who acts as Stow's Floodplain Administrator. Links to the appeal process forms and directions are provided on this website. When the 90 day appeal period expires, FEMA will take into consideration any appeals it receives. After resolving appeals and responding to comments, the Town of Stow is required to adopt the preliminary maps into the existing
Town bylaws. 7-10 months after the adoption by Town Meeting, the preliminary maps will become effective.
LOWER VILLAGE GATEWAY SIGN INSTALLED
With funding assistance from Stow's Garden Club, a prominent recommendation of the Lower Village Sub Committee has been fulfilled! The sign will greet residents and commuters to Stow's historic Lower Village business district, as well as act as a cue for drivers to slow down as they enter a busy stretch of Town. Check out the planning blog for photos of the installation.
PLANNING BOARD BLOG IS UP AND RUNNING
The Stow Planning Department Blog is now Online! Keep updated with the latest information on current developments and project. And please don't hesitate to ask questions or provide feedback. Simply leave a comment at the bottom of the page!
LOWER VILLAGE PLANNING EFFORT
Upcoming Public Forum!
November 28, 2012 at 7:30 PM in the Stow Town Hall
The Stow Planning Department continues to move the Lower Village planning effort forward with a public forum scheduled for 7:30 PM on Novemeber 28th, 2012 at the Stow Town Hall. Community members will have a chance to learn about the Lower Village planning effort, including the status of past proposals, as well as current projects and plans for the future. The forum will be an important opportunity for Stow residents and business owners to offer input on the future of the planning process.
- LOWER VILLAGE TRAFFIC AND STREETSCAPE PLANNING
The Planning Board continues to help advance Lower Village toward a safe, attractive and pedestrian oriented district. After hiring Coler and Colantonio to complete an existing conditions survey plan for the Lower VIllage in 2010, the first traffic improvement concept plans have been submitted to the Planning Department and will be offered for public comment at the November 15th, public forum. The concept plans address safety and traffic congestion issues in the Lower Village as identified by the Lower Village Committee. The upcoming forum will be followed by subsequent events for the community to view and comment on the initial proposal for improvements.
Phase II of the contract with Coler & Colantonio was funded by the May 2011 Annual Town Meeting for further study, including:
- Geotechnical Investigations (Perform pavement cores and borings within the Stow Lower Village project limits in order to verify subsurface conditions)
- Utilities – (Begin initial coordination with utility companies regarding the possibility of relocation of overhead utilities to underground.
- Advancement of surface improvement program (additional engineering services related to the advancement of the roadway surface improvements
- LOWER VILLAGE SUB-COMMITTEE FINAL REPORT
At the June 7, 2011 Planning Board meeting, members voted to accept the Lower Village Sub-Committee's Final Report.
STOW COMMUNITY TRANSIT SERVICE SURVEY
The Town of Stow has recently completed a survey of residents to better understand the public transportation needs in our community. The survey is part of a larger effort to address the lack of public transportation options across thirteen towns between Routes 128 and 495. In light of recent proposals made by the MBTA it is essential to identify the transportation needs of our community. These survey results will help us better understand who is currently using public transportation, what they are using it for, where they are going, or their reasons for not using public transit at all. The goal of this larger effort is to find more efficient and cost-effective solutions to providing public transportation to residents, businesses and organizations across the thirteen towns.
Click on the link below to see the survey results!
Thank You for Your Participation!
DEVELOPMENT PROJECT INFORMATION
WALKWAY PLANNING PROGRESS
Sidewalks at the Villages at Stow are currently under construction and photos will be available soon.
FEMA FLOODZONE DIGITIZED MAPS
At May 2010 Town Meeting the Town voted to accept the new digitized FEMA Flood Zone Maps in order for the Town of Stow and its residents to take part in the flood insurance program.
Click on the link below for directions on "How to make a "FIRMette" (An image of your property on the FEMA website). Making a FIRMette will allow you to "zoom in" on your property and print out an image showing the location of all flood zones. Hardcopy maps are also available to view in the Planning Department Office.
Although the Planning Department cannot make determinations on FEMA floodzones, we encourage residents to call FEMA for information about flood zone determinations at 800-611-6122.
METROPOLITAN AREA PLANNING COUNCIL (MAPC)
MINUTEMAN ADVISORY GROUP ON INTERLOCAL COORDINATION (MAGIC)
Stow is a part of the Minuteman Advisory Group on Interlocal Coordination (MAGIC), which is a group comprised of thirteen communities (Acton, Bedford, Bolton, Boxborough, Carlisle, Concord, Hudson, Lexington, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard, Stow and Sudbury) working collaboratively on issues of regional concern related to transportation, the environment, energy, open space, affordable housing, economic and community development, and legislative issues.
METRO BOSTON SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES PLACE-BASED GRANT PROJECT
MAPC applied for funding to assist several groups of communities including the Town of Stow, Hudson, Maynard and Marlborough in advancing pedestrian and bicycle planning to create local networks for safe non-vehicle travel. This planning initiative will be conducted over the spring, summer and fall of 2012 at no cost to the municipality. As of October this project is one of 11 that has advanced to the preliminary approval phase and is pending successful negotiation of a final scope of work and budget.
ASSABET RIVER RAIL TRAIL (ARRT)
Click on the link below to see a map showing the outline of the Track Road property that the Town acquired as an easement
Map created by ARRT inc.
CHOOSING A GREENER WAY TO TRAVEL
MassRides has provided a website that allows commuters to find public transit options by inputting their start location and end location, as well as time of commute. Log onto http://commute.com/ to find an alternative route to work!
Last updated 04/25/12