Town's Comprehensive Plan Has Become Comprehensive Headache
The town sought a "user-friendly plan"; the state says the plan must adhere more closely to state's own goals and policies.
The town's comprehensive plan is a document few residents ever see, but is something meant to guide the town's actions in a variety of areas, from land use and open space to economic development and community services.
A regularly updated plan is also something the state requires.
East Greenwich embarked on drafting a new "comp plan," as it is known, three years ago. With the finish line clearly in sight, however, the plan hit up against a state review that presented a variety of objections, most significantly that the information needed to be presently differently.
For Town Planner Lisa Bourbonnais, the process has been very frustrating. In explaining the state's complaints to the Planning Board during a meeting Wednesday night, she said the state did show her plans by other towns that they approved of.
However those plans, she said, were 300 pages long. The Planning Board's idea three years ago had been to develop a plan that was clear and concise and, above all, user-friendly. The resulting draft plan, at more than 200 pages, is no Cliff Notes version. But it does present a clear-cut picture of what the Town of East Greenwich should be moving toward in the coming decade and beyond.
"The idea was to be something residents could look at and understand, she said. "It’s not the state’s tool. It’s our tool."
Nonetheless, after several conversations with her state counterparts, Bourbonnais, with consultant Sam Shamoon, is rewriting the plan to satisfy the state's complaints.
Meanwhile, the Planning Board meets with the Town Council next week to discuss councilors' critiques of the comp plan.