GRAY — As the town works on its new comprehensive plan, Community Planner Ben Smith is seeking residents’ feedback to help establish “the values and attitudes that are going to shape the future of the community.”

The town hired Smith, of NorthStar Planning, to spearhead the creation of the new comp plan. The town’s most recent plan dates to 2003, and, as Community Development Director Doug Webster explained, a lot has changed in Gray since then.

The Route 26 bypass alone, which opened in 2006, has “changed the DNA of town,” Webster said. In addition, a Hannaford was built in 2008, Town Hall moved and the town’s library was expanded.

“Many town facilities have changed and expanded” since 2003, he said.

A comprehensive plan, Webster said, is “arguably one of the most important long-range policy guiding documents for a town” because it provides a blueprint for zoning and is the base for many municipal zoning ordinances. 

Beyond the numbers, however, “a comp plan is a chance to take a look at other factors to focus on the things that are important to the community,” Smith said.

Since he was hired in May, Smith has been collaborating with the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee as well as other town committees.

So far, his work has focused on data collection and analysis from a variety of sources, including census data and population projections.

The next phase entails community feedback: “We want to give as broad a cross-section of the community as possible a chance to provide input and reactions to the information that we’re going to be able to share.”

A community survey is available on the town website through Oct. 4. There will also be two identical community visioning workshops on Oct. 19 at 10 a.m. and Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. in the Middle School Cafeteria at 31 Libby Hill Rd.

In the spring, Smith will begin investigating land use concerns, which will necessitate another community survey and more workshops.

Smith said the goal is to have a draft of the plan completed in October 2020 so that residents will be able to vote on the final plan during a big election year.

This good planning on the town’s part, he said, “is really going to lead to building the kind of community that the people of Gray want in the future.” 

Comments are not available on this story.