Biddeford is looking for people to be involved in updating the city’s vision and plan for the future. Tammy Wells Photo

BIDDEFORD — What do you hope Biddeford will look like and be in the years ahead? What attributes does the city already have? What needs to be worked on? What is your vision?

Residents can play a role in answering all those questions as the city embarks on an update to its 1999 Comprehensive Plan.

Getting a new plan crafted will take thought and time. A series of online workshops, complete with surveys residents can take, was to begin on Wednesday March 10 and continue each Wednesday through April 28.

The Comprehensive Plan is a policy document that guides growth in Biddeford. It includes an inventory and analysis of existing resources, as well as a vision for the future, developed with resident feedback.

“Biddeford has been experiencing a boom in development over the past few years,” said Biddeford Planning Board Chair Bill Southwick. “Now is the time to bring the community together to create a shared vision for Biddeford, so that we can plan our city’s continued growth in a thoughtful manner.”

Since the adoption of the current Comprehensive Plan 22 years ago, Biddeford’s character has changed significantly. The city’s goal is to update the plan to reflect the community’s current priorities and values, said Southwick. Public input will specifically be sought on issues like neighborhoods, housing, environmental issues, climate change, public facilities, transportation, the downtown mill district and business development.

With COVID-19 limiting opportunities for in-person gatherings for the foreseeable future, the Comprehensive Plan public participation process will move forward in 2021 primarily using virtual public events and surveys for feedback said Biddeford Communications Coordinator Danica Lamontagne. The public will be able to participate by watching video clips and reviewing fact sheets before providing feedback, she said. Several focus group online meetings will then be held in late spring following the release of each of the surveys.

To take part, go to Online opportunities will be available weekly. Residents are encouraged to sign up for the Comprehensive Plan Updates email list at the same link to receive a notification when new information is posted.

Some initial preparation work has begun. In January, a team of Planning Board members, citizen volunteers, and city staff began working to develop fact sheets, videos and surveys related to topics covered in the Comprehensive Plan.

Neighborhoods were to be the March 10 topic, followed by housing on March 17; the Downtown Mill District and business development issues March 24; climate change on March 31; environmental issues April 7; University of New England Integration, April 14; youth and the school system, April 21; and public facilities, April 28.

Focus groups will be held via Zoom on each of the topics and are expected to begin in early April, and the procedures for getting involved in the groups is to be available soon, according to information on the city’s website.

A broader community survey will be developed and released in mid-June.

The format for a public meeting on the Comprehensive Plan, also set to take place in early summer, will be dependent on public health considerations, according to city officials.

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