The committee that will be implementing the recently updated Master Plan over the next 10 years began its work last week.
Members are Town Councilor Joe Green, Nutfield Publishing owner Deb Paul, Barbara Mee, Conservation Commissioner Mike Speltz, Mary Tetrault, Planning Board members Chris Davies and Mary Wing Soares, Ann Chiampa, Budget Committee member Ted Combes, Tammy Siekmann, Tim Siekmann and Town Manager Kevin Smith.
At the group’s inaugural meeting Wednesday, Jan. 29, Davies was elected chairman and Mee was named vice chairman.
Comprehensive Planner John Vogl said he wanted the group to become familiar with its role and gain a sense of expectations of what it can accomplish.
Vogl noted the Master Plan was adopted by the Planning Board, and the Implementation Committee is an advisory committee to the Planning Board.
“Certainly a big part of the Master Plan is to promote partnerships which lead to fostering economic development,” Vogl said.
He said what comes out of the studies and recommendations will lead to zoning upgrades, as well as the adoption of “tool kit items” that serve as a source for concepts and actions such as economy, “village” centers, housing and transportation.
“From my point of view, I really see this group as advocates to keep the Master Plan as a focus of the Planning Board and the Town Council,” Vogl said, adding the committee may advocate for items that will lead to changes in zoning ordinance to bring about walkable neighborhoods.
Green said the Master Plan has a lot of “great ideas. But they have to be ideas that we have to be able to manage so that it’s not going to cost an extra $5 million or $6 million on the tax rate if we go to build some industrial area. We have to make it realistic.”
Vogl said it “wouldn’t be this committee that builds, but it would be advocates of what could be built.”
The committee decided that an additional at-large committee member would be invited as well as a member of the school board, bringing the total number to 13 and a quorum of seven.
The committee also adopted a charter, which included such things as workshops with other boards, developers, attorneys and planners; an annual “Implementation Report Card” to the planning board; and a page on the Town’s website.
Planning Board Chairman Art Rugg, who attended as a resident, said he thinks it would be good to hold the meetings in the Moose Hill Conference Room so they could be televised, instead of at the Sunnycrest meeting room, where last week’s meeting was held.
Soares asked what would happen if a member of a board or commission were no longer on that board or commission. Vogl said that would have to be looked at further but sitting members of boards should serve on the committee.
Paul suggested that there should be mandatory positions as well as a “subset of other members.”
Davies noted a danger of having too many people.
“I thought the meeting was a successful kickoff to what could be a very productive committee,” Vogl said. “This will be a group that is looking at long-range planning – the ‘big picture’ of planning and development in Londonderry. It’s an opportunity to keep the Town focused on the principles of the Master Plan, including staying forever green, promoting unique activity centers, emphasizing housing choice and diversity, increasing transportation choice and walkability, enhancing the municipal advantage and excelling in education and town services. What I saw last night was that we have a diverse committee that truly shares the same enthusiasm for the Master Plan’s vision.”