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Somerset Master Plan update
The Town of Somerset has embarked on an approximately fifteen-month planning process to update the town-wide Master Plan. The Town is planning for an engaging process where residents, businesses owners and local stakeholders will help shape the ideas and recommendations in the Plan. Learn more below and see how you can get involved in this process. We want to hear from you!
Master Plan, "Our Town, Our Furture", A Snapshot of Somerset: http://www.townofsomerset.org/sites/somersetma/files/uploads/somerset_mp_exhibit_boards_final_112618.pdf
2nd Somerset Master Plan Public Meeting Tuesday, July 23, 2109
The Town of Somerset held its second and final Master Plan Public Meeting, Tuesday, July 23, 2019 from 6:00 to 8:00 P.M. at the Somerset Berkley Regional High School Performing Arts Center, an important aspect of the planning process which helps the Town move forward to developing our Implementation Actions for the Master Plan. The public was invited to attend this Public Meeting to learn more about the Master Plan progress to date and review the Vision Statement, Core Values, Key Issues, Opportunities, and Goals developed through the public engagement process. The residents and businesses in attendance helped the Town prioritize Implementation Actions to best achieve our Vision and Goals in the next 15 to 20 years. They also offered feedback on the Master Plan's Vision Statement, we completely agree and will make changes to the vision that better reflects the Town of Somerset. You can still participate by filling out the survey below or contacting the Town Planner with any suggestions, ideas, or missed opportunities.
Contact Nancy Durfee, Somerset Town Planner at firstname.lastname@example.org or (508) 646-2809.
Existing Conditions Analysis report available for public review at: http://www.townofsomerset.org/sites/somersetma/files/uploads/somerset_mp_existing_conditions_analysis_final_draft_062519.pdf
Please help us prioritize our GOALS!
After you have had a chance to review the Goals and Actions above, please take the second Master Plan online survey that will walk you through the elements of the plan and identified goals and actions based on all the public input we have received: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/somersetmasterplan-goals
Thank you for your participation!
Below is a link to the video from the 2nd Master Plan meeting held on July 23, 2019 at the Somerset Berkley High School: http://youtu.be/9TAzfcP8cMc
Expanded Economic Development Plan Public Meeting
As part of the Somerset Master Plan process, the Town is preparing an Expanded Economic Development Plan. A public meeting was held on May 2, 2019 for an update on this process, and for the chance to contribute. Residents, businesses and key stakeholder provided their feedback will be an invaluable part of our success! Below is the presentation provided at the meeting.
Below is the link to the Somerset Economic Development Plan Public Meeting presentation held on May 2, 2019: https://www.townofsomerset.org/sites/somersetma/files/uploads/somerset_expanded_ed_plan_public_mtg_presentation.pdf
Below is the link to the Somerset Economic Development Plan Public Meeting video presentation held on May 2, 2019: https://youtu.be/mhb1lNzVTns
Somerset Master Plan Public Questionnaire - Vision, Goals, Issues and Opportunities Survey
The Town put out a plea to answer the survey questions for the Master Plan based on the current conditions, and your desires for the future for the Town of Somerset. You answered! The results of the survey will be incorporated into the Master Plan and a draft will be available in June. Thank you for your participation.
Also, the Town wished to continue our outreach engagement in the master planning process in that we wanted to hear from all our residents, business owners and local stakeholders to help shape the ideas and recommendations in the Plan. Question Boards were located in the Somerset Public Library, the Council on Aging and made available on the Town website to gain insight as to your thoughts on a few specific questions. The answer to these questions supplement the Master Plan Survey. Thank you for participation in the Master Plan process. http://questionboard.somersetmasterplan.com/
The Town held the first Public Meeting on Wednesday, November 28th, 2018, during which over 80 residents discussed opportunities, issues and a 15-20 year vision for Somerset. Participants reviewed and discussed the following key components:
- What is a Master Plan?
- What community Planning trends are impacting Somerset?
- Somerset snapshot: A brief look at our communities demographics and baseline conditions Opportunities and Issues: An interactive discussion about the opportunities and issues the Master Plan should address
- Somerset's Vision: What is our Community's vision for the future?
Below is a link to the presentation and polling results from the public meeting: http://www.townofsomerset.org/sites/somersetma/files/uploads/final_somerset_mp_public_meeting_1_11282018.pdf
Below is a link to the video from the Master Plan meeting held on November 28th, 2018 at the Somerset Berkley High School: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOYTIFBDx5s&index=2&list=PL34CDZ1DV7_TqLJRxipt-2Lb_-5igpilI&t=0s
The Somerset student body was asked to participate in the Master Planning process by answering two questions. 1.) "What do you love most about Somerset?" and 2.) "What is your greatest wish for Somerset in the next 15-20 years?" Below is are links to their answers.
What do you love most about Somerset? https://padlet.com/schoonoverj/3s17lip8tnut
What is your greatest wish for Somerset in the next 15-20 years? http://padlet.com/schoonoverj/uo6gbu05567a
During the 1st Master Plan Public Meeting, attendees were asked to give us one word or phrase that best describes "Somerset's Biggest Asset" and "Somerset's Biggest Challenge". From this exercise a Word Cloud was created. The larger and bolder the word the more times attendees described it.
"Somerset's Biggest Asset", assets that stood out amongst the word cloud include, Schools, Services, Community, & Waterfront: http://www.townofsomerset.org/sites/somersetma/files/uploads/one_word_biggest_asset.png
"Somerset's Biggest Challenge", challenges that stood out amongst the word cloud include, Taxes: http://www.townofsomerset.org/sites/somersetma/files/uploads/one_word_biggest_challenge.png
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A Master Plan…
- Documents and illustrates what a community looks like today and what direction it has decided it wants to go for the future; it includes assessments of existing resources and issues, projections of future conditions and needs, and consideration of collective goals and desires.
- Is a policy guide and provides a framework for future land use decision-making and the physical development of the municipality. It will not only address buildings and infrastructure, it will also include the important social, natural resource and economic values of the community. The Master Plan is a method of translating the community's values into specific actions.
- Covers an approximate time frame of 20 years; it is assumed that shorter-term reviews will keep it current with the changing needs of the community.
- Is closely integrated with other municipal documents and initiatives.
The Master Plan is NOT a zoning ordinance, a subdivision regulation, a budget, a capital improvement program or other regulatory document. It is meant to provide the framework for the development of these implementation tools.
What is involved in preparing a Master Plan?
- The Steering Committee will be overseeing the Master Planning process
- Public outreach including meetings, photo contest, website, media outlets, events
- Data collection and analysis that will ultimately be rolled into the Master Plan document
- Development of our community vision and goals
- Preparation of the chapters of the plan (sometimes called plan elements)
- Land Use and Development Patterns
- Natural, Cultural and Historic Preservation
- Economic Development
- Open Space and Recreation
- Community Facilities and Services
- Transportation and Circulation
Information and data are gathered from current and prior plans and studies, while current views and opinions are being collected through community events, public meetings, and survey’s where residents are invited to provide input will both help shape the plan. Other sources data will be provided from government-level census and mapping data to round out the current conditions in order to guide the future.
Somerset Master Plan Sections
The Master Plan will include a range of chapters that will address the Town's needs over the next 15-20 years.
Vision, Goals, Core Values and Policies
- The Vision Statement will articulate the long-term vision for Somerset and will highlight some of the major issues and opportunities that will need to be addressed in the next 20+ years.
- This chapter provides an overview of the Town's current land use patterns and will include recommendations and guidance on how the Town might change, preserve, and grow land uses in the future.
Transportation, Circulation and Parking
- This chapter will summarize Somerset's existing traffic network and will assess the various transportation modes the Town offers now and in the future. Walking, biking and transit will be explored, in addition to understanding vehicular traffic opportunities and constraints.
- This chapter will provide a summary of the Town's housing stock and will assess the need to supplement that inventory with future housing choices. Key to this chapter is understanding demographic changes, household incomes, and employment.
- This chapter will provide a summary of the Town's economic profile and seek to understand how the Town might strengthen its economic base by looking at jobs, income, and local and regional employment opportunities.
- This chapter will address Somerset's natural, cultural, and historic resources, identifying goals and strategies to preserve and leverage these important town-wide systems.
Public Facilities and Services
- This chapter will outline goals and actions related to Somerset's public facilities, such as the Town Hall, Public Utilities and Library. The recommendations will look at ways the Town could maintain or expand services that are provided to the community.
- The final chapter will provide a summary of the goals, actions and recommendations so that the Town will be in the position to advance the Master Plan over time. Timelines, priorities and champions will be identified for each recommendation.
Public Participation Component
Public forums and community meetings are planned (please sign up for email blast, and keep checking for the dates and times for these meetings https://www.townofsomerset.org/subscribe). The first Public Meeting was held on November 28, 2018, which attending residents to describe the Somerset they envision in fifteen years. A public meeting kicked off the event and participants held breakout groups to discuss community character.
An important product of this task is the Vision Statement that identifies the future of Somerset. The Vision Statement is distilled from lots of input from the community gathered during interviews and the public forum where residents and business owners are invited to supply their own personal visions for the future of Somerset.
Sign up for updates: https://www.townofsomerset.org/subscribe
Master Plan Milestone Events
There are a series of Milestone Events where the entire community is invited to participate and contribute directly to the data and information gathering process. These events are generally described below; check the schedule, the Town’s Comprehensive Calendar, or sign up for email blast http://www.townofsomerset.org/subscribe for specific dates, times, and locations.
Public Kick-off (Meeting #1):
- Kick-off meeting to bring everyone up to speed on planning process
- Questions and answers about content and process
- Brief snapshot of Somerset’s demographic and land use statistics
- Input on community character and the future vision for Somerset
- Breakout group reports
Draft Master Plan chapters will be posted to this website starting 2019.
Planning staff and Master Plan Steering Committee meetings:
- Oversee planning process and review content of plan elements
- Assist in public outreach
- Review draft and final implementation plan
Outcomes: 1) Revisions for plan elements and draft implementation plan. 2) Scrutinized implementation steps and the identification of potential funding sources as they relate to the goals and strategies for each element. 3) Input on determining implementation priorities.
We Have Finalized the Existing Conditions and Trends Analysis
In this phase, we identified where we are today; what is our current state of the Town - existing projects, finances, infrastructure, etc.; what do the current trends, economic conditions, and demographics tell us about our town and where it might be headed.
VHB will worked with the Planning staff and Steering Committee to conduct an initial inventory of existing conditions in Somerset. This inventory will establish a baseline to help frame the analysis of the various Master Plan elements. Work will include performing a reconnaissance of the Town and its surrounding environs, collecting data and assessing base information (building on recent planning efforts already completed), and reviewing and summarizing existing and any recently completed planning studies. As part of this task, VHB has undertaken the following:
- Conduct site reconnaissance fieldwork including identification of Town land and building use, protected and unprotected natural resource areas, recently approved developments (or areas proposed/being considered for development), wetlands and water resource areas, and an overall assessment of general physical conditions in the Town, including utilities and infrastructure.
- Assemble available base data (reports, plans, mapping, Geographic Information System (GIS) databases, etc.) from Town staff and confirm that necessary data is available for study of the various plan elements.
- Review and evaluate existing relevant studies and assess the implications of the studies and their findings for short- and long-term planning initiatives.
- Evaluate existing land use and development patterns in Town and assess uses to determine whether the existing inventory meets community goals. Consideration will also be given to regional development trends that may impact future Town development. Constraints to future development such as wetlands and other natural resources are evaluated, and the current zoning regulations are evaluated in order to predict the location and intensity of potential future development. Changes to the zoning bylaws may be considered as a means to achieve the future land use vision for the Town.
During this phase, VHB dug into the details of each plan element (or topic) and developed specific plans that will lead to the vision for that particular element. Based on the data collected and analyzed, and using the community vision as a guide, a plan will be developed for each Master Plan topic. A concrete set of recommendations will be made to implement plan goals and objectives. There will be continued community involvement during this phase. Below is a link to the Final Draft Existing Conditions and Trends Analysis, Vision, Core Values, Goals and Recommendations:
Somerset Master Plan Existing Conditions Analysis: https://www.townofsomerset.org/sites/somersetma/files/uploads/somerset_mp_existing_conditions_analysis_final_draft_062519.pdf
Somerset Master Plan Vision, Core Values, Goals and Recommendations Draft: http://www.townofsomerset.org/sites/somersetma/files/uploads/somerset_vision_core_value_goals_and_recommendations_final_draft_062519.pdf
Where we are Now in the process… Implementation Strategies
During this phase, VHB, with the participation of the Planning staff and Steering Committee, will prepare the elements for the Draft Master Plan for review and comment. VHB will also be preparing GIS maps to identify the location of important resources and land use areas of Somerset.
One important aspect of the Plan will be the Implementation element, which will be a straightforward, step-by-step guide for the Town to implement the Master Plan through specific policies and other steps. This plan will include both short- and long-term action strategies.
The Implementation element will include an action plan that summarizes the actions that each party (e.g. Planning Board, Conservation Commission, and other Town Officials) will be responsible for completing within various timeframes. VHB will also develop an Action Plan Map that illustrates the key points of the implementation plan. The map will incorporate any proposed zoning changes. Below is a link to Draft Implementation Strategies:
Final Master Plan
This last segment of the project will see the compilation of all pertinent data, information, maps, etc. into the final documents with a final Implementation Plan. VHB will prepare draft documents for review by the Town Officials, Planning Board, stakeholders, and any other interested parties. There will be ample time to review and incorporate any relevant changes.
Remember, the Somerset Master Plan will be a living document. It will need to be reviewed at least once a year and updated periodically. The Planning Board or other entities will be charged with overseeing the Implementation Plan and coordinating the efforts of the parties identified as having responsibilities for implementing the plan. As conditions change, and as various sections of the plan are implemented, the Town may find additional projects and/or strategies with which to achieve our goals and objectives.
Final Master Plan to be presented in 2020.
As prepared and submitted to the Planning Board, Master Plan documents will be posted here for your review. Somerset residents and stakeholders will have a few weeks to review them and make comments.
Of course, they will be continually reviewed and updated as necessary as part of the on-going Master Planning process.