News Feature

Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, February 8, 2018
State okays Stonington’s comprehensive plan

by Rich Hewitt

After nearly three decades of trying, the town of Stonington has a state-approved comprehensive plan.

The town got word last week from the state Bureau of Resource Information & Land Use Planning that the comprehensive plan selectmen submitted last fall has met all of the state requirements.

The notification comes after review by the bureau and other state agencies, along with some minor revisions made earlier this year. Phil Carey, the senior planner with the bureau’s Municipal Planning Assistance Program, notified town officials in a letter Friday, February 2.

“We have now completed our review and are pleased to inform you that we find the Fall 2017 Town of Stonington Comprehensive Plan, with revision submitted through 2/2/2018, to be consistent with the Growth Management Act,” Carey wrote.

“This is the first time the town has had a plan that is consistent with the state,” Town Manager Kathleen Billings said Monday, February 5.

Previous attempts to develop a plan that both town voters and the state approved failed in 1991 and again in 2003.

This decision by the state comes after an intense effort last year that involved a series of meetings throughout the summer and into the fall. Those meetings, led by planner Bob Gerber, involved town officials and interested townspeople who worked their way through each section of the state comprehensive plan regulations and developed plans to ensure that the local plan complied with the state rules. Following a public hearing last November, selectmen made suggested changes to the draft plan and submitted it to the state.

The state-approved plan will go before townspeople for a final vote at the annual town meeting in March.

In addition to providing guidelines to town officials to meet town needs during the coming decade, the plan puts Stonington in a better position to win grant funds for town projects, according to Billings.

“It means that we’ll be in better shape for more funding,” she said. “A lot of grant agencies seem to require comprehensive planning.