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Public Forum to discuss the Planning and Zoning Process in Watertown

Sustainable Watertown is hoping to present a public forum to discuss the Planning and Zoning process in Watertown. We have heard an explanation from a town lawyer about what is; we have seen that in action. What we need is a town wide discussion about what should be and what goals we are trying to achieve. The Comprehensive Plan and Design Guidelines and Standards (which put the Guidelines into the zoning code specifically) represent those values and goals. The actual process is insufficient as it now stands. Consider the following Questions. We need your participation in planning this event and in asking the new applicant for a position on the Zoning Board of Appeals where he stands when he is interviewed May 27.

Questions for discussion, Planning and Zoning process in Watertown:

  • Selection process by the Town Manager and the timeline for selections to be sent to Council
  • Qualifications of Board members (respect for community participation, length of time in Watertown, devotion to values and goals of Comprehensive Plan and Design Standards, not simply profession)
  • Duration of appointments
  • Council and Subcommittee approval process
  • Oversight of a Board and ongoing evaluation of member preparedness
  • Decision making processes of Department and Boards and the members' views of their roles
  • Transparency, clarity, and availability of final decisions and explanation of member votes
  • Role of Town in supporting Board members in case of legal challenges to decisions
  • Clarification of State regulations, responsibilities, constraints on Boards and Planning Department, including flexibility of allowable timeline
  • Expectations for public participation and responses to questions at Developer Meetings and public hearings
  • Timeline used in the Planning and Zoning process--does the timeline rush the process and pressure for quick decisions? How could a large and complicated project be legally studied over time?
  • Access of the public to Boards and members of the Boards before cases are heard
  • Attendance of members of Boards at public forums before cases are heard
  • Access of the public to the Planning Department activities, including preliminary drawings, site plan reviews, filing information on line in reasonably easy form, improved website
  • Evaluation of new appointees for a period of time

Your suggestions?
Volunteers are needed to make this project successful. We would appreciate your help with this Planning and Zoning Public Discussion Series. Please contact with comments, to volunteer.

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