SCARBOROUGH — The Long Range Planning Committee is seeking public input on a 2020 update to the Town of Scarborough Comprehensive Plan, described as a prescriptive document for the town’s future use.

The final of three virtual public forums will take place on Dec. 1 at 6 p.m.

The Comprehensive Plan draft is located on the town’s website Jay Chace, town planner, said in a presentation that played during the first public forum on Nov. 17. The second public forum took place on Nov. 19.

In the presentation, David Merrill of the Long Range Planning Committee said that the Comprehensive Plan is a culmination of input from residents, town committees and local organizations. The plan uses data from local, state and national sources to inform the process.

“The plan reflects a vision of Scarborough and presents a blueprint for a sustainable future that reflects the priorities and values of the community,” he said.

A community vision is the plan’s starting point, Chace said. The last Comprehensive Plan was adopted by the Town Council in July of 2006.

“In many ways the 2006 plan was a very prescriptive plan that described exact measures for the community to embrace in moving forward,” he said. “The 2020 Comprehensive Plan has taken a different tactic in really thinking about systems and seeks a more synergistic approach to the diverse range of activities that occur within the town between development, preservation of open space, traffic, housing choices, while thinking about the impacts on not only our residents but on the municipal capacity to serve the future needs.”

Because the plan is a visionary document, not everything included is expected to happen quickly or all at once, Chace said. In the future, the town can look to the plan when drafting policies.

A series of vision statements have been drafted from the plan that help to achieve a focus on sustainable development, according to the draft. These vision statements include “The Scarborough Marsh is central to the Town’s identity; Future land use patterns will create opportunities; Our ordinances will support the diversity and character; Scarborough’s economy will support a broad assortment of companies; and Scarborough’s transportation network will support current and future land uses.”

A comprehensive plan survey completed by 564 takers showed that fiscal sustainability was a preferred principle, said Karen Martin, director of the Scarborough Economic Development Corporation. The survey showed 68 percent favored the principle over eight other guiding principles: authentic, bold, connected, engaged, healthy, stewardship, vibrant and welcoming.

During the Nov. 17 public forum, Long Range Planning Committee members, Chace and Martin were available to listen to feedback and answer questions.

Questions raised by residents involved the use of specific words in the plan and goals for districts within Scarborough.

Resident James Damicis said he thinks the plan is very readable and likes that the plan begins with principles and a vision.

He said that COVID-19 and other factors have greatly changed Scarborough since the draft was created, noticing that public facilities like the Eastern Trail have seen more use.

“Going forward, I do think it would be great on a community level to talk about how what’s going on is very compatible with the Comprehensive Plan and adds significant value to the quality of life and the business community,” he said.

One resident, Alyson Bristol of Higgins Beach, was concerned about the Comprehensive Plan labelling Higgins Beach as a village growth sector.

“I think tagging it as a growth sector implies that additional rezoning is going to be done and additional, perhaps commercial businesses would be allowed at Higgins Beach, which would not be a plus at least in my estimation,” she said. “And the broadness of the comprehensive plan kind of allows that … I think it would be better off, if you want to keep it clean, just not call Higgins Beach a village, because the zoning’s already in place.”

Jean-Marie Caterina, committee member and town councilor, told the public that anyone could also email her at [email protected] if that was a more comfortable option to provide input.

“We’re looking for your feedback,” she said. “We’re looking for your input on things you like about it, some things maybe you’d like to see in it, any changes.”

Councilor Betsy Gleysteen who attended the meeting in the public section, emphasized that the council was there to listen to people’s input. The entire Town Council can be reached at [email protected]

On Nov. 18, the Town Council held a workshop on the update, listened to feedback from the Nov. 17 forum, and discussed next steps.

Those interested in attending the final Zoom meeting can visit the Town of Scarborough’s homepage for a link.

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