RICHMOND — Residents are invited to weigh in on updates to the town’s comprehensive community plan at a Planning Board workshop on June 25.
The Planning Board expects to complete the comprehensive plan update by the end of the year. Formerly submitted every five years, the plan, which is required by the Rhode Island Division of Statewide Planning, will now be good for 10 years.
In advance of the meeting, a survey asking residents about what they value most in Richmond and how they want to see the town grow has been available on the town’s website and has received about 300 responses.
The workshop will take place at Chariho Middle School to accommodate a crowd. Town Administrator Karen Pinch said she was hoping that many residents would attend.
“We’re hoping that we have more than our Town Hall chambers can fit,” she said. “Certainly, the more people who participate, the more the plan will reflect on what the people of Richmond want to see.”
The meeting will begin at 7 p.m., but people are encouraged to arrive a few minutes early.
“The doors open at 6:30,” Pinch said. “They’re going to have easels set up. The easels will have general questions to allow the public to jot down some thoughts and stick them on the easels before heading into the auditorium."
Town Planner Shaun Lacey will chair the meeting, and consultants Vanesse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. will present an overview of the comprehensive plan process and discuss residents' comments on the easels. The consultants will also release the preliminary results of the online survey.
“V.H.B.’s role, primarily, is going to be assisting the town with the public outreach in the public workshops portion of that update,” Lacey explained.
Part of Tuesday's two-hour meeting will involve small group break-out sessions which will be led by Planning Board members.
Lacey said each segment of the meeting would be relatively brief.
“We’ve dedicated about 20 to 25 minutes between our consultant, V.H.B.’s presentation and our break-out sessions, which will be led by our Planning Board members and our staff,” he said. “Typically my experience has been that you can get a lot of good quality public feedback within a two to two and a half-hour window, so I think what we have planned for, with a good turnout, we’ll get some good results.”
The last comprehensive plan update was in 2014 and new land use issues, particularly those relating to solar energy, have emerged since then.
“It will be interesting to see whether there’s been a stronger public opinion between then and now in terms of how the various elements within the comp plan pertain to the town today,” Lacey said. “If you look at land use, economic development, natural and cultural resources and so forth, this public workshop will kind of give us a good reading on what the public’s expectations are between our last comp plan update to this current one.”
There will be a second public comprehensive plan workshop in the fall.
“That public workshop will be designed to solicit feedback on what would be the draft comprehensive community plan which we intend to have adopted by the end of the year,” Lacey said. “We would also go through the adoption process from that point forward which would also involve the Planning Board and the Town Council’s review, so there will be ample opportunity for the public to be involved all the way through."
The online survey, which will be be open until the end of June, can be found at shorturl.at/dIKQ9.