What is the point of setting requirements and appointing committees to do a particular function as important and impactful as establishing restrictive zoning bylaws, imposing general bylaws, Town Charter and Smart Growth plans if little to nothing of value is ever accomplished? Many of these committees are appointed every 5 or 10 years to review, leave intact, modify and submit for approval changes to current standards.
In this case, Billerica went well past the 10 year review period for our Town Charter. This has a significant potential for lot of negative ramifications. For instance, Billerica could lose access to key grants essential to economic development, infrastructure improvements, protection from undesirable land use (as we’ve seen in Akeson due to a poorly defined telecommunications bylaw). Not having a viable and effective Master Plan inhibits the Town Planner from having the direction needed and policy goals essential to guide planning board decisions and more in the best interest of the town.
According to our fairly new Town Planner back in mid 2012, many recommendations were submitted but never acted on by town leadership and he is baffled as to why that occurred. So am I. And yet, for the most part, our town leadership team has remained relative intact with the exception of the past 2 years.
Either voters are oblivious to the facts or fact matter much less than political alliances and cliques. This is shameful, and yet, very little has been made of this issue, especially, in comparison to the kerfuffle over the rash of hand painted, aesthetically challenged signs regarding elections and special issues.
Of course, it is quite possible for voters to simply be unaware of the failure to have an operable, legal and functional Town Charters as the town has been very slow at getting information onto its official website since it was first put online. The preference has been to post stuff in the public library and disregard interested parties who have problems getting to and from the library for a whole host of reasons. I have been somewhat reassured that this will change and that the new website will soon be up to speed – we’ll see.
In the interim, I suppose I’ll have to get to the library or to the Town Clerks office to either review on site or request a copy of all agendas, minutes and other pertinent documents relating to the Town Charter Review Committee to get a better grasp as to how often they met, how deeply they reviewed this document, changes recommended and to whom and why little or nothing was done to affect change and meet the 10 year review requirement.
I know a lot of my articles are critical of government and some people in particular. It is not that I want to hold people up for rebuke, but it is because without holding people accountable for their actions or lack thereof, we the people are left holding the bag of leadership responsibility and consequences. I am working on a graphic presentation that clearly demonstrates why town folk need to be more involved, more critical and more vocal when leadership fails them. Until then, I hope that my posts can be viewed as instructive, informative and used for activism to get Billerica back on the path to good social, economic and spiritual health. (I don’t mean religious but more in the vein of our founder’s commitment to individualism, rights and liberty).
Town Meeting members approved a $50,000 allocation to update the town’s master plan. According to Town Planner Tony Fields, the current master plan is "no longer considered valid."
According to Town Manager John Curran, the long-range master planning committee did the town’s current master plan in Oct. 2002. He said typically a new master plan is done every 10 years.
"There are a lot things that need to be reexplored and reexamined," Fields said.
The master plan looks at the goals and policies of the community, land use, housing, economic development, open space and recreation, education and schools, transportation, natural and cultural resources, and community services.
Fields said the $50,000 would allow the town to start the process of updating their current master plan. He said it is likely officials will be back before Town Meeting for additional funds to complete the project. Fields added that once a consultant is hired, it should take two years to complete this project.
Fields said the benefit of an updated master plan are numerous
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