FALMOUTH — Members of the Long Range Planning Advisory Committee are organizing and drafting a survey to find out where residents stand on a range of issues.

The committee’s purpose is to create a new Comprehensive Plan for the town, something that is required by state law. The town’s current Comp Plan was adopted in 2000.

Committee Chairman Sam Rudman said the group has been working on some of the general concepts, such as zoning, economic development and housing, and that it is beginning the process of drafting the questions.

“We’re of a complete open mind,” Rudman said. “We’re taking a very open approach to it. Our focus isn’t necessarily about what’s going on immediately, but what’s a good long range plan for the next decade.”

The town has hired Market Decisions to facilitate the survey, which will be online for two to four weeks beginning in early February. Market Decisions has created several past surveys for the town.

While respondents are encouraged to fill out their answers online, Rudman said paper copies of the survey will be available to anyone who requests one.

LPAC has already done one survey of the town — a three-question open-ended survey last fall asking people to rank the town. More than 500 residents responded, and 127 ranked Falmouth a 10 out of 10, while only 22 ranked it a one or zero, the lowest ratings. Respondents gave a variety of reasons for their rankings, from the quality of the schools, to rural character, to the tax rate.

Rudman said the committee has already sent the first survey results to Market Decisions to incorporate into its final presentation, which will be available for the Town Council and committee to review after the second survey is analyzed.

The committee is hoping for a large response to the upcoming survey. Rudman said the group is planning to send out postcards encouraging participation, and will post announcements at the Town Hall and Falmouth Memorial Library, as well as in local media.

A similar survey was done in 2000 and approximately 33 percent of surveys sent out were returned. 

“Then the plan is to go out and engage the public in a dialog depending on what results we have from the survey,” Rudman said.

The committee plans to hold public meetings inviting people to speak about what issues are important to them and what the pressing issues are for the town.

“We will have questions about town center,” Rudman said, citing a particularly hot local debate over whether to create a town center at the soon-to-be vacant Lunt and Plummer-Motz schools. “I don’t know exactly how specific it will be. We’re not going to ask specifically where do you want it, but I think we’ll ask generally if people favor a town center.”

Public meetings were also held prior to the approval of the 2000 Comp Plan.

Rudman said the committee welcomes input from residents, including suggestions for survey questions. He encouraged interested residents to contact the town’s director of long-range planning, Theo Holtwijk, at [email protected] as soon as possible so the committee can review the suggestions before the survey is drafted.

Once the results of the survey and public meetings are compiled, the committee will begin work on updating the Comp Plan.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or [email protected]

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