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Draft plans begin: Focus on historic preservation

Published 9:43pm Friday, January 4, 2013

Adopting policies and creating incentives to encourage re-use of historic or old buildings is one action step the city should take to enhance existing historic-preservation efforts, recommends a draft comprehensive plan.
The draft also recommends two other action plans. The other recommendations are (1) expanding efforts to promote and publicize benefits of historic preservation to property owners and the community and (2) create a strategy for demolishing old structures that cannot feasibly be brought back to use.
The three recommended “action steps” are part of the draft’s road map for helping improve the city.
John Rodman, the city’s planning director, said planning staff and others are rewriting the draft to incorporate changes suggested by city officials such as City Council members and administrators.
Before it can be approved, a public hearing on the draft comprehensive plan will have to be conducted.
“It’s premature to set a date for a public hearing until we make sure we have the draft how we want it,” Rodman said Friday. “We’re doing a rewrite now. We’re supposed to meet again with the (consultant) on Tuesday. We’ve some rewrite to some of the things they’ve asked us to do. So, I am hoping (the Planning Board) will be OK with it this month.”
Rodman said the Planning Board is scheduled to discuss the revised draft at its Jan. 22 meeting.
The draft does not provide specific details on implementing those steps. That direction will be provided by the Planning Board, city planning staff, City Council and the public.
The city’s planning and development entities are expected to play a major role in developing those “action” steps so they are complementary to other economic-development strategies and activities in the city.
The draft plan — “Pride in the Past, Faith in the Future” — lists three initiatives that should be pursued first. They are supporting efforts to promote the downtown/waterfront areas, actions that are feasible, inexpensive and relatively easy to complete quickly and new opportunities to implement and pursue medium- and long-range ideas.
The 2030 plan was prepared to “articulate a vision for the community’s future and a road map for how to achieve that future,” reads the draft plan’s preface. The draft plan is organized around five major themes — downtown and the waterfront, economic development, community appearance, historic preservation and tourism, including eco-tourism.

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