Planning Board OKs master plan

By Charis Anderson

NEW BEDFORD — The Planning Board on Monday unanimously adopted the city’s first master plan in more than 45 years.

“I feel it’s a good plan, one that’s flexible,” said George Smith, the board’s chairman. “It was gone about the right way.”

The master plan, entitled “New Bedford 2020,” will now go before the City Council for its endorsement; once the council has voted on the plan, work will begin on revising the city’s zoning code, which will ultimately be the tool used to implement the recommendations contained with the plan, according to city officials.

“The master plan has to be … an overview as to where we think we are going over the next several decades,” Mayor Scott W. Lang said during the meeting. “I think it’s a very, very good piece of work.”

Work on the master plan started more than a year and a half ago with the formation of a 20-member steering committee.
Public meetings and focus groups were held over several months last year, and members of the steering committee participated in numerous neighborhood group meetings, as well as cultural and civic events, in order to get public input.

“We’ve really heard from just about everyone who wanted to participate in this process,” said Assistant City Planner Jill Maclean, who said about 1,100 people participated in the civic engagement portion of the planning process.

The resulting plan covers a broad range of topics — from neighborhoods and housing to culture and creativity to jobs and business — and incorporates many of the smaller planning efforts the city has undertaken over the past five years, officials said.
Based on those initial plans, New Bedford has been able to attract about $340 million in private investment since 2005, said Matthew Morrissey, executive director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council.

“We have a long way to go,” he said. “But with this document as a blueprint … we will continue to attract jobs and investment.”

November 23, 2010

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