2009-12-10 / News

Planning Commission preps for comprehensive plan survey

By Iain Wilson

During its meeting last Wednesday, the Jamestown Planning Commission touched on a number of topics to be included in its updated comprehensive plan survey, which will be distributed this spring.

The updated survey will include new questions on parking, water quality, coyotes, and bed and breakfasts.

“We’re going to decide what the key issues are, and we’re going to ask the residents how they feel about the key issues,” Commission Chair Michael Swistak said. The recent discussion was a preliminary one, he said, and the commission will whittle down from the list it is working to create.

“The comprehensive plan is the blueprint for how the town is going to be put together,” Swistak said, adding that community participation in the survey is vital. The last survey was completed in 1999, and received a response from 31 percent of registered voters, according to Town Planner Lisa Bryer. To better evaluate the needs of the island, the commission will hand out surveys to all residents.

Questions on the 1999 survey included those in the areas of agriculture, wildlife and economic development. Many questions from the earlier survey will remain intact, but the commission emphasized the need for education programs in island schools on topics such as water conservation, environmental concerns and history. The commission plans to include questions on those topics in the survey.

The survey is a precursor to the town’s comprehensive plan update, Bryer said.

The comprehensive plan update involves looking at what has changed since the last comprehensive plan, she said.

“We’ll see how we’re going to handle these issues, and if any policies or plans need to be changed in that regard,” she said.

The survey should arrive in the early months of 2010, and Bryer stressed the importance of residents completing the survey.

In other business, the commission also discussed the fee to be paid on a plot of land on Clinton Avenue. When the town makes an appraisal that is not agreed upon by both parties, the Planning Commission has the ability to negotiate a new number. A member of the community, Paul Andrews, spoke to the commission on behalf of his daughter, whose multi-family property is proposed for development.

Two factors are involved in an appraisal – land value and building value, according to Bryer. The commission discussed the dollar amount in question, and voted unanimously on a new fair market value of $400,000, which was suggested by commission member Michael Smith. The property was originally assessed at $423,000.

In other old business, the commission discussed the subject of multi-family dwelling sizes – a topic that has spanned two meetings. Bryer suggested a return to the old zoning ordinance figures. The commission agreed to discuss the issue at the next meeting.

The next meeting of the Planning Commission is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 16, at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall.

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