WESTBROOK – The city is moving forward with creating a blueprint for its future.

The City Council voted this week to appoint a 17-member task force to create a comprehensive plan for Westbrook.

The task force includes city officials, business leaders and residents from each voting ward.

Its goal is to create a plan to guide city officials’ decisions on issues such as land use, housing, transportation, public facilities, and agriculture and forestry resources.

The task force, which is expected to start meeting later this month or in September, will begin its work by developing a vision statement for the next 10 years.

Mayor Colleen Hilton said the plan will represent the vision of the whole community.

“It’s one of the most important things that we have going on right now,” Hilton said. “Since I took office, there has been debate from people saying, ‘This wasn’t the vision for this neighborhood,’ or, ‘This is not the vision for this zone.’

“This will be a broad-based community vision that everyone embraces.”

The planning sessions will involve representatives from groups such as the Recreation Conservation Commission, the Westbrook Environmental Improvement Corp. and the chamber of commerce.

The city’s school board, planning board and zoning board will also participate in the workshops.

The council unanimously approved the appointment of the task force on Monday.

Councilor Michael Foley, who will serve on the task force, said the city has seen a lot of changes in zoning and development since it completed its last comprehensive plan, in 2000.

In recent years, Westbrook has developed plans for its parks and open space.

It also completed a downtown revitalization plan, a parking study and a streetscape plan. Foley said the group will work to incorporate those plans into the new comprehensive plan.

“We need to include things to allow our downtown to grow and thrive, and promote growth in other areas of the city, like the Five Star Industrial Park and the Westbrook Heights Business Park,” Foley said.

Also on the task force is Dick Daigle, director of facilities for Idexx Laboratories.

“It’s a continuation of our effort to work with the city to define its future,” Daigle said.

“It should be an interesting process.”

Michael White, president of Steven & Jay Corp. and plant manager for White Bros., will also serve on the task force. He said he would like the city to continue to encourage industrial and business growth.

The Maine State Planning Office requires each city and town to complete a comprehensive plan every 10 years.

The state’s growth management act requires that communities have comprehensive plans to legally impose zoning requirements and impact fees.

Hilton said she hopes Westbrook’s plan will identify areas of economic development and prosperity.

“Westbrook is one of the coolest cities in the state of Maine,” she said.

“We have so much going for us. I’m hopeful that we will able to develop pockets of places where we can go out and market and recruit for our community.”

 

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

[email protected]