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Wakefield city manager outlines goals for commission


March 12, 2019

P.J. Glisson/Daily Globe

MEMBERS OF Wakefield's planning commission listen closely at their Monday meeting while city manager Bob Brown, center, presents an ambitious game plan for the coming months. From left are commission members Jim Anderson and Karen Manson. On the other side of Brown is chairman Dale White. Member Tara Hamilton has her back turned, and member Marsha Vestich is not shown.


Wakefield - At their regular Monday meeting, Chairman Dale White told members of Wakefield's planning commission that the nature of their roles was about to change.

"We're going to become more proactive in what happens in town," he said, adding, "Everybody keep a clear, open mind about where we're going."

City manager Bob Brown then spent his first commission meeting explaining to members what he hopes they will accomplish in the next year or so.

Using a slide show, Brown reminded that the planning commission has two major functions: 1. To act as an advisory board to the city council, and 2. To act on some matters as a legislative board in its own right.

He said commission members will be in charge of creating a new master plan, capital improvement plan and recreation plan. They also will be in charge of zoning ordinances, as well as reviews of zoning and site plans.

According to Brown, the council will adopt the master plan, as well as ordinances. It also will issue appointments, variances, appeals and interpretations. Among other duties, it also will create budgets and participate in zoning reviews.

Brown said that, in creating new city plans, the commission must determine the community's character, what its residents want and need, and what the city wishes to encourage or discourage.

He said he expects the planning process to include attention to surveys, which the state requires. But he said city officials also will conduct related workshops, focus groups, civic group presentations, personal interviews, and outreach via media and the city's website.

According to the city manager, commission members also will address additional considerations such as existing land use patterns, suitability of land use, available public utilities and services, road networks, and master plans of surrounding communities.

In relation to how many updates will be required in relation to existing plans, Brown said, "We already know there will be some major changes." That's because current plans were written according to now defunct state rules.

New state standards, said Brown, will require commissioners to include mapping, demographics and other elements not needed in the past.

Beyond the new city plans, Brown said he hopes commissioners also will address zoning ordinances gradually to see whether the city's existing rulings still make sense.

Overall, he concluded, "I'm very project-based. What is the project? What is the cost? When is the deadline? Let's do it."

Commission members listened closely to Brown's suggestions and thanked him for his guidance. "It'll be fun," said commission member Tara Hamilton of the direction in which the commission is heading.

Prohibiting marijuana ventures

In other news, the commission heard White provide the first reading of section 155.297, which is a pending amendment to Zoning Ordinance No. 227. The amendment specifically prohibits marijuana establishments in the city.

Members then voted to schedule a related public hearing during their next regular meeting on April 8 at 4:30 p.m. in the council room of the municipal building.

The commission also voted to schedule a public hearing during the same April 8 meeting on a garage variance granted to Jeremy Grasso at 411 3rd Ave.

The public is welcome to attend the meeting and the public hearings.


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