YARMOUTH — The Town Council held a second public hearing on the 2010 draft Comprehensive Plan and completed the review process on Thursday, Oct. 21.

Councilors are expected to hold a final public hearing and vote to adopt the plan in early December.

The plan was presented to the council by the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee in September. Since then the council has reviewed the plan and made a few changes.

The plan includes a transition from more conventional zoning regulations, use-based zoning and design review to what is called form-based code that focuses on the design and placement of buildings instead of the specific property uses.

The steering committee proposed a voluntary advisory group to protect the historic significance of buildings in town, a concept the council did not support initially. However, after the last meeting, councilors agreed that in addition to an  inventory and catalog process to designate historic structures, they would like to consider the possibility of an advisory regulatory process.

Other changes include a move away from cul-du-sac neighborhoods to a more interconnected community; incentives for developments with 10 or more lots to make provisions for affordable housing, rather than making such housing mandatory; and language designed to help residents of all income levels stay in Yarmouth by providing assistance, fuel, social services, rental units and tax help.

Only a few people spoke at the second public hearing, often repeating comments from the previous meeting.

Tim Wheaton of Hickory Lane  said he is concerned that the proposed development in the Hillside neighborhood would be dictated by the 2010 Comprehensive Plan, not the current plan. 

Town Manager Nat Tupper said the development would be reviewed under the current plan.

Matthew Schumacher of West Main Street asked the council once again to expand the historic village center to include more significant sites. Tupper said the designated village center would be reviewed in the future. 

Finally, Tupper explained the form-based code concept to Loretta MacKinnon of Portland Street.

“Form-based code is not a huge change,” he said. “The plan recommends we investigate it further, get a better understanding and consider form-based code with an open mind.”

Tupper said Vanessa Farr, director of planning and development, will make the final changes to the plan. The final public hearing and vote will be on Thursday, Dec. 2.

“There has been a lot of work, public input and council suggestions in this process,” Tupper said. “(The plan) still needs to be approved, vetted by the state and then we will still have time to make changes and adjustments as needed.”

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or [email protected]

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