The first meeting of the Mattapoisett Master Plan Committee was held on December 9, 2020, with a team of “local champions” willing to take on the monumental task of researching and sharing their views on a variety of diverse topics held in the document known as the Master Plan. With the guidance of the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD), the team of volunteers which engaged in the process of editing and updating the earlier plan has made a measure of progress.
To better understand what the process includes, SRPEDD has kept the public informed through almost monthly public meetings and postings on a dedicated website.
On August 3, the committee met again to discuss data and drafted language that has been gathered from the participants during meetings for the 10 elements of the process: Vision, Land Use, Economic Development, Housing, Open Space and Recreation, Natural and Cultural Resources, Services and Facilities, Transportation and Circulation, Coastal Resilience and Implementation.
Discussions continued in a brainstorming style where one topic led to another. In a follow-up, acting Chairman Nathan Ketchel told the Wanderer, “The discussion was a mix of comments on the content and formatting of the report. There was discussion (regarding) the Holy Ghost site and whether the CPA (Community Preservation Act) and town funds that were voted on at the 2016 Town Meeting would allow housing to be placed there.”
Housing has been front and center of many committee discussions with little in the way of where affordable housing might work for the residents and the town. Regarding the Holy Ghost property located off Park Street, a former recreational property for a religious organization, there were some earlier ideas of possible residential development that were never fully explored.
“As it stands, the Town Meeting motion was to appropriate funds to purchase the land to be used for open space and recreation and would likely require a new motion at a future town meeting to allow senior housing,” explained Ketchel.
In spite of the committee’s best effort to put together a comprehensive and all-inclusive plan, the question of the evening on August 3 was “who” actually will make things happen, once the plan is handed off to the Select Board.
The lack of a town planner was acknowledged as a major hurdle. Committee member Paul Criscuolo said, “After the presentation (to the Select Board), if there is no planner to go beyond, it won’t go anywhere.” Everyone agreed.
Lizbeth Gonzalez of SRPEDD suggested the possibility of a shared responsibility with someone from Town Hall and someone from the committee. In fielding the question of how specific projects would be funded, Gonzalez said monetary estimates for projects could be added to the plan but not necessarily where those dollars would come from.
Ketchel shared that one takeaway from the meeting was a discussion on uses for the retired fire station in the earlier stages of its being proposed for sale. The committee pondered residential and commercial possibilities. Also discussed was the extension of water and sewer services to coastal neighborhoods. Whether or not it is prudent to offer these services to coastally sensitive areas remains a major question.
Earlier in the August 3 meeting, discussions regarding permitting and zoning areas in the Village Business District and Route 6 corridor were explored, specifically how to expand economic development in that district.
To view the draft document, visit srpedd.org/comprehensive-planning/community-master-plans/mattapoisett-master-plan/.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Master Plan Committee is scheduled for Wednesday, September 7, at 7:00 pm and will be posted on the town’s website.
Mattapoisett Planning Board
By Marilou Newell