Thursday, September 16, 2010

Master Plans

The City of Dover, as with most communities in New Hampshire, is required under state law, to routinely develop and evaluate a comprehensive or master plan for itself.

A Master Plan is a set of statements about land use and development principles for the municipality with accompanying maps, diagrams, charts and descriptions to give
legal standing to the implementation of ordinance and other measures of the
Planning Board.

The plan should lay out a physical plan which takes into account social and economic
values describing how, why, when and where the community should build, rebuild and preserve.

With this blog entry I hope to go over the various chapters and the process involved with reviewing and implementing the Master Plan. You can review Dover's Master Plan online.

There are eight smaller steps that make up four major components of Master Plan development The first segment in preparing a plan is to determine the vision for the Community. We have accomplished this in the past through telephone and hand surveys, speak out sessions and focus groups.

The second component is to outline and evaluate different outcomes, whether they be land uses or infrastructure options. From there, you select a preferred alternative, and recommend that alternative within the MP.

The third component is the implementation of the plan. This can be changing regulations and guides, or performing infrastructure (capital) improvements.

The fourth step is the monitoring step. You need to evaluate the implementation and how it has impacted a community. This component flows back into the community visioning component as you move through the cycle.

The Chapters:

Land Use Analysis – 2007

The place we know as the City of Dover will become a different place in the course of our lifetimes. In some small way, it may even be different tomorrow. By evaluating the past and making recommendations toward the future, we can ensure that the community develops and grows in a managed and meaningful way. This plan is a statement of what the Dover community hopes to be, and how it might get there.

Recreation – 2009

Recreation is an integral component of a healthy, sustainable community and should receive commensurate investment. In Dover, it is believed that Recreation issues are complex and require high attention, wise decisions, sensible implementation, and collaboration among different city departments. The goals established in this document here are similar to those in the past (2000). The mission of Recreation in Dover may not change much with each Master Plan update, but the ways in which Dover accomplishes those goals may.

Natural and Historical Resources - 2000

Dover’s natural resources are a critical consideration in establishing a proper approach for land management. Understanding natural resource values provides a rational basis for determining which areas of the City are more appropriate for protection and open space and which areas are more suitable for development. Natural resources such as slope, soils, and vegetation, wildlife, and water resources add to Dover’s character, provide recreational opportunities and contribute to the quality of life for Dover residents. These natural resources also provide both opportunities and constraints for growth. Steep slopes and wetlands, for example, are less suitable for development, while better drained, flatter areas are more suitable. On the other hand, these well-drained areas may be associated with groundwater areas that require protection. Thus, the natural resource base of Dover provides an important factor as the basis for local land use decisions. The following is a description and analysis of Dover’s natural resource base.

Community Facilities and Utilities - 2009

The City of Dover and its employees are recognized as providing a high level of effective services. The Dover government is a large, complex organization delivering a wide and diverse range of services to the residents and businesses of the City. City business is conducted by the City Council managing about half of the budget and the School Board managing the rest with only bottom line funding approval by the Council. By definition it is a bureaucracy and, like most other bureaucracies, our City government and its activities has evolved over time to meet the new demands placed on it by growth. Sometimes that growth has been slow and steady and sometimes it has been very rapid such as we are currently facing as we enter the new millennium. In either case, attention has sometimes been focused on meeting the new needs rather than finding ways to deliver existing services in the most efficient way. The City and School budgets have been developed separately without first setting limits for combined growth and identifying areas of mutual need and possible joint efforts to hold costs down. This has resulted in adding new people, facilities, equipment, and activities at ever-increasing costs. Efforts at last minute budget cutting to hold cost down have sometimes been misdirected to things such as deferring necessary maintenance or new programs, which eventually resulted in higher costs. Dover needs to change that approach to managing its business.

Open Space - 2000

Dover has a long history of placing a priority on environmental protection and management. Open Space and Recreation Plans were developed in 1973, 1978, 1988 and the 1988 City-wide Master Plan contained a detailed chapter on the open space and recreation needs of Dover. This chapter serves as an update to the 1988 Master Plan and integrates the information and recommendations contained in previous plans with the most recent needs that have been identified in Dover.

Transportation - 2000

This chapter of the City of Dover Master Plan is intended to set policies and goals while providing a comprehensive vision for transportation. Dover will invest in, maintain and properly manage or regulate a coordinated, safe, efficient, and effective transportation system that promotes the long-term goals of its citizens and businesses expressed in this Master Plan. The City acknowledges this system to consist of public and private infrastructure such as roads, bridges, sidewalks, parking facilities, trails and transit centers as well as services such as transit, taxis, and traveler information resources. This system will enhance the quality of life for residents and the quality of experience for visitors and tourists while preserving the character and strategic advantages of the City for current and future generations.


Phew. As you can read, there is a lot involved with the Master Plan. We are constantly reviewing this living and dynamic document as we make budget and policy decisions. My hope is that you will see us update the Open Space and Natural Resources chapter over the coming months. If you are interested in assisting, please let me know.

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