WESTERLY — The town's planning staff is working with the Town Council to tackle initiatives included in the revised Comprehensive Plan.

The new plan, which was adopted by the Town Council and approved by the state Division of Statewide Planning in May, sets out goals to reflect the development and preservation priorities established in the plan. Reaching the goals requires input from the town's planning, zoning and other boards as well as the approval of the Town Council.

Todd Romano, the lawyer who represents the Zoning Board of Review, presented a schedule etched out by the Department of Development Services for getting proposals related to the priorities before the Town Council during the next 18 months. Council President Sharon Ahern invited Romano to make the presentation.

"I wanted the council to see it and the public to be aware that we are working on it, so that they see that it is in the works and that there is a path forward," Ahern said.

Following the schedule could be challenging, officials said. "It it is an aggressive schedule but we all believe this council all has the experience and knowledge," Romano said.

Ahern agreed. "Yes, it is ambitious, but this council worked on the plan and has a lot of municipal experience," Ahern said.

Last year the council devoted a series of meetings and public hearings while the plan was being revised as required by state law.

The schedule presented by Romano identifies five priorities: revisions to the aquifer protection overlay regulations; creation of a river overlay protection area; redevelopment of the downtown area and stormwater management regulation for the area; Route 1 study and new regulations to promote improvements; develop floodplain and special area management plan regulations.

The proposed aquifer protection zone and regulation changes are expected to be submitted to the Town Council for its Oct. 25 meeting. The proposed zone changes reflect changes implemented by the state Department of Environmental Management for how it monitors and manages groundwater. The changes are being worked on by the planning and zoning boards prior to submission to the Town Council. The schedule anticipates council approval of changes to the overlay district and regulations before the end of the year.

In many cases, work on the priority items will require input from consultants or partners such as state agencies or conservation organizations. Councilor Christopher Duhamel asked whether the council would be involved in the selection of the consultant for the Route 1 study.

Ahern said the council will have the final word on hiring a consultant for the study. "I was informed that council will have that authority," Ahern said.

dfaulkner@thewesterlysun.com

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