Return to Comprehensive Planning
In April 2019, Town Meeting approved Warrant Article 25, establishing a Revenue Committee “to explore, examine, and present for consideration potential ongoing revenue opportunities for the Town of Leverett.” The Committee was called on to “focus on creating and/or exploiting ongoing municipal revenue sources (other than tax surcharges, licensing, permits, etc.). Town infrastructure, zoning and other restrictions, and aesthetics will be considered by the Committee.” The Committee’s mandate was renewed for another year at the June 20, 2020 Town Meeting. By Town Meeting 2021, the Committee delivered a survey and a report summarizing their findings.
The Summer 2020 Townwide Survey results suggested that a path exists for some limited business development in town, along with amenities to make Leverett a more attractive option for small businesses, home builders, and home buyers – and increasing the town’s property tax base as a consequence.
The Revenue Committee FY21 Year End Report explained the committee research findings, with estimates of the near future property tax rate growth and recommendations for the town. Recommendations were as follows:
Community One Stop for Growth grant application written by the Planning Board and Margie McGinnis, submitted June 4, 2021.
See the State grant portal: https://www.mass.gov/guides/community-one-stop-for-growth
See the file: MA One Stop Grant Application for Leverett Master Plan AWARDED.pdf
Leverett was awarded a $39,000 Community One Stop for Growth grant for the proposed Master Plan project.
The Planning Board posted an RFP in December 2021 and January 2022, and received two proposals.
The Planning Board met with both applicants and awarded the contract to Emily Innes.
The Planning Board and Emily Innes worked together to prepare and promote the survey and applications to the Phase 1 Comprehensive Plan Working Group. The digital survey and Working Group application were promoted on Leverett Connects, at the library, transfer station, and Coop, and postcards were mailed to all town residents, inviting anyone to participate. A total of 39 residents completed the survey, and 18 survey respondents expressed interest in joining the Working Group.
With members recruited from Leverett residents and selected by the Planning Board, the Working Group worked directly with Ms. Innes, independently of Planning Board authority. Planning Board members attended Working Group meetings to observe and to provide support and information as needed, but not to oversee or otherwise control the proceedings. This independence helps to support a fair, transparent, and community-driven process.
The following residents contributed to the Working Group:
The Planning Board switched terminology from ‘Master Plan’ to ‘Comprehensive Plan’ during this phase of the project, recognizing that Comprehensive Planning is more aligned with today’s best practices in the field of municipal and rural planning.
The Phase 1 Comprehensive Plan Working Group thus recruited, led by Emily Innes and chaired by Mike Fiscella, met four times to accomplish two objectives:
These four meetings informed a Working Group report written chiefly by Emily Innes. Ms. Innes submitted the report for comment from the Working Group and Planning Board in early June, 2022. She submitted the final revision to the Planning Board on June 27, 2022:
This report constitutes the final Phase 1 deliverable expected of the Community One Stop for Growth grant, and it will help the Planning Board conduct a transparent and inclusive Comprehensive Planning process in FY23.
The Planning Board worked with Ms. Innes and Margie McGinnis on the Community One Stop for Growth grant application that will support continuation of Phase 2 of this project in FY23. The grant opportunity opened May 2, and Margie submitted the completed proposal before the June 3 due date. The maximum grant amount is $75,000 and the Planning Board requested the maximum.
See file: Comprehensive Plan Phase 2 - One Stop grant application submitted by Margie June 2022.pdf
The Town received the award letter dated October 17, 2022 from the Department of Housing & Community Development informing that we'd been awarded the full $75,000 Community One Stop for Growth grant in support of Phase 2. The Planning Board worked with the Town Administrator to write and publish a Phase 2 RFP. The Town received a single proposal, prepared Emily Innes Associates with RKG Associates and Tighe & Bond. The Planning Board reviewed the proposal and voted to recommend that the Select Board award the contract to Innes Associates with RKG Associates and Tighe & Bond. This process was completed in January, 2023.
See the files:
The Planning Board met with Emily Innes at a public meeting in February and coordinated outreach and to Leverett residents Steering Group recruitment. Planning Board members reached out to people to invite their consideration. This individual method of outreach was chosen instead of broad outreach by mail or social media, as was done for Phase 1 Working Group recruitment. Most volunteers to the Phase 1 Working Group were not available for the time commitment required (for example, half of all who volunteered did not show to any of the four meetings). The Phase 2 Steering Group will be a longer and more demanding engagement. Successful Steering will require commitment and availability to attend seven 90-minute Steering meetings and to coordinate and attend community visioning meetings sufficient to cover the nine required Comprehensive Plan elements and four additional elements specific to Leverett. Given the workload, the Planning Board decided to conduct personal outreach and networking to recruit.
See the file: Leverett Comp Plan Steering Group Flyer
These are the remaining tasks to complete Comprehensive Planning:
April 11, 2023 Tim Shores presented a progress report to the Select Board:
See the file: Comprehensive Plan update to the Leverett Selectboard April 11 2023
April 17, 2023 The Steering Group will have its first meeting with planning consultant Emily Innes.
With regular oversight by the Planning Board and regular reports to the Select Board and the community at-large, the Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee will provide continuous service helping Leverett make the most of its future, helping everyone to collaborate and direct their efforts toward shared civic and community goals.