Will the updated Local Comprehensive Plan provide a new way forward for Bourne as far as future planning is concerned?
The updated plan is headed to Cape Cod Commission review. The revision includes two new chapters on education and coastal resources.
The original plan is a relic of yesteryear. The new edition, meanwhile, will be effective only if planners and town officials are on-board and town department heads follow through on action items and objectives.
That could prove difficult. The town’s sensibilities have changed over the past decade as it struggles with the impacts of the metropolitan reach. While still Cape-like in some places, Bourne is also easily accessible to and from Boston and Providence. For commuters, it is convenient.
The town is at total residential build-out. Bournedale Road and MacArthur Boulevard have become speedways. There are traffic backups on ancillary roads as early as Thursday afternoons now. Inferior roads in older subdivisions now haunt new homeowners.
Metal buildings have given way to contractor bays now in vogue. Medical buildings are of dubious Cape aesthetics. There are no banks in the town’s commercial center at Buzzards Bay. Lifeguards are rare.
The town has funded a new public works complex, another new school, a new police station, and possibly soon a southside fire station, even as work continues for a waste treatment facility to heighten economic development prospects at Main Street, where vacant storefronts may soon fill up.
Finances are still being sorted out for the new $2.3 million park and playground in Buzzards Bay, where on most weekday afternoons there are no available parking spaces for visitors.
The eco-conscious landfill deals with low-grade plastics in recycling loads but continues to generate revenue and bolster the area economy. Funds are set aside for facility closure and post-closure as planning continues for a sixth disposal cell off MacArthur Boulevard.
There is new aquaculture interest, but shoreline residents don’t want to view grant operations from their picture windows. Shoreline ecology, including nitrogen removal, is a current interest, as the town seeks to sidestep any lawsuit that might otherwise emanate.
The town is also stepping into municipal vulnerability planning with interest in low-lying areas where tidal surges and storms threaten exclusive neighborhoods in new ways, especially at old high-density cottage colonies that have been made over with small lots intact. There is a need to pinpoint vulnerable areas, understand them and try to protect them.
Massachusetts Maritime Academy, meanwhile, is no longer content to contain growth within its campus. Freshmen won’t attend without their vehicles. What to do with them spills outside the Taylors Point gate.
How selectmen react to Mass Maritime prompts increasing sentiment that selectmen are continually poised to accommodate college needs and imperatives. Taylors Point residents say they are being squeezed by three levels of government.
LCP Committee Chairman Steve Strojny says the plan is a success, and will dovetail with the Cape Commission’s regional policy plan.
“The LCP is a guide of where we are, where we’re going and how we’ll get there,” he said. “It’s a collective vision of the town as opposed to a group of collected visions.”
“It’s comprehensive,” Strojny said during the June 16 public hearing into the plan. “If you want to take a deeper dive into what interests you, you know where to go for information. It’s going to be a good document for the town. It’s going to be a very valuable tool for town government.”
Selectmen Judith Froman, George Slade and Peter Meier, meanwhile, said the LCP represents a renewed commitment of sorts “to moving forward.”
Consultant Wes Ewell wrote the plan.
“It’s a policy plan that outlines the attitudes of townspeople and local government,” he said.
Items where town government may be active include sorting out the Facilities Department and perhaps assuring an engineer being hired as its director; creating a Coastal Resources Management Plan that addresses shoreline conflicts; addressing the need for workforce housing and giving developers density bonuses or other incentives for units in Buzzards Bay; generating a so-called “blue economy”; and promoting Bourne as a college town and center of marine education, research, manufacturing and services.