By Mary Macedo, Neighb News Correspondent
The Fairhaven Planning Board with the planning firm VHB met with about 20 residents on 6/13, to continue discussion about the town’s Master Plan, which sets goals for Fairhaven for the next 20 years.
Planning Board Chairperson, Wayne Hayward explained that it was the second meeting to discuss the MP and there will likely be more because the plan is only halfway complete.
VHB Principal and Director of Planning, Geoffrey Morrison-Logan presented a slideshow of the goals of the master plan to the public and explained the overall vision statement for the next 20 years.
He explained that at the last meeting the most important values residents spoke about were the history of the town and the waterfront.
He said the goal for the second meeting was to look at the draft of goals and prioritize which ones are the most important to the residents.
Some specific goals Mr. Morrison-Logan discussed about land use in Fairhaven were the importance of balancing growth and preservation. Another land goal was to strategically redevelop areas of Route 6, as well as promote small local businesses.
Some important housing goals Mr. Morrison-Logan presented were to keep new residential housing developments in existing residential areas. Another important goal was to create affordable housing for younger generations and for families of all incomes, but also to continue to provide affordable housing for the elderly.
Mr. Morrison-Logan presented the goals for Economic Development, which was of great importance to the Fairhaven residents, he said.
One of the most important goals was to incorporate the waterfront into a more commercial area and to make the waterfront more accessible to the community.
Another big goal was to maintain and fill the occupancies on Route 6. Another goal that the residents were really intrigued by was the goal to have more mixed use projects where people can live, work, and play, such as a place to own a business and also live in the same building.
Transportation was another area with important goals such as maintaining a friendly bicycle riding and pedestrian community, but also increasing the use of public transit like buses, and other transportation options, such as cabs.
Mr. Morrison-Logan also presented some goals for public facilities and services. One of the goals was to continue to build on the senior center, and increase activities for seniors.
He also said a goal was to maintain or renovate older public buildings to make sure they meet the needs of the town.
Open space and recreation goals were very important to the residents as well. One goal was to preserve farmland, as well as set aside more land for conversation and water supply protection. Another important goal was to create more recreational activities for people of all ages.
As a town whose slogan is “A small town with a big history,” Fairhaven’s historic and cultural resources are also a big topic.
Some goals were to establish a historic district in Fairhaven and to help town residents, as well as tourists, better understand the historic legacy of Fairhaven. The most important goal in this area was to link the historic elements of Fairhaven to the economic development, such as tourism.
Sustainability was another topic that Mr. Morrison-Logan explained was of great importance for the next 20 years. The main goal for sustainability is to create a system that tracks and reports on how well the town’s sustainability performance is. A related goal is for Fairhaven to continue to improve energy efficiency and to prepare for the effects of climate change.
All of the goals that Mr. Morrison-Logan presented also have multiple recommendations on how to achieve them within the next 20 years.
The full list of goals and recommendations is available on the town’s website at www.fairhaven-ma.gov/ pages/FairhavenMAMasterPlan/index
After the draft of the goals of the master plan was presented the residents broke off into groups to discuss aspects of the plan.
One of the main concerns the residents discussed was that there are no open spaces for new small businesses. All available spaces are too large. The residents suggested that the large open spaces be split up into smaller sections so small businesses could use them.
The residents also really liked the idea of mixed use areas where business owners could buy a property to create a business, but also live in the same building. Residents liked this idea because it would make the cost of living much cheaper and easier.
Residents also heavily discussed the lack of apartments in Fairhaven and the possibility of using large vacant areas for small apartment buildings.
Residents also recommended that bus service in Fairhaven be more frequent because many residents did not even know Fairhaven has bus service. Residents also discussed the possibility of having bike rentals for tourists.
Recreation was a big topic as well. A lot of residents wanted to see more town activities, such as outdoor music at the parks, more dog parks, and a golf course. They also discussed creating a local chamber of commerce to promote and establish recreational programs in the town.
Tourism and the waterfront also found its way to the top of the list. Residents would like to see more small restaurants and boutiques near the waterfront, where tourists can walk from place to place.
The main goal the residents discussed was for Fairhaven to be more like Newport, RI, and places in the Cape where you can spend the day. Ideas included outdoor seating, restaurants that serve local seafood and maybe a seafood truck.
Mr. Morrison-Logan said that VHB will look over their notes during the summer and work with the planning board to prioritize the goals for the master plan. He said the next meeting will be in mid September to finalize the goals and begin moving to the implementation phase.
To view the draft of the Master Plan 2040 visit www.fairhaven-ma. gov/pages/FairhavenMAMasterPlan/ index
To add your thoughts and opinions, visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/ Fairhaven2040Goals
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