Planning Board deems urban renewal in line with town’s vision

May 13, 2024

The revitalization of Wareham Village is in line with the town’s overall vision for its future, the Planning Board decided at a Monday, May 13 meeting. 

The question under discussion was whether the Urban Revitalization Plan proposed by the Wareham Redevelopment Authority aligned with the town’s Master Plan, a document which outlines goals for the town’s future and was last updated in 2020. 

Priorities identified in the Master Plan include “traditional economic development in well-planned locations,” and to “focus redevelopment and improvements to Wareham Village and Onset Village.”

The Urban Redevelopment Plan focuses specifically on Wareham Village. 

Its key proposals include the zoning bylaws passed at Spring 2023 which increased the height and density of buildings in Wareham Village. Other proposals include an elevated boardwalk along the back of Main Street buildings, a kayak launch and boardwalk along the water off of Merchant’s Way and the purchase and demolition of buildings along Main Street to create a flood-resistant “sponge park.”

The Planning Board needed to issue its determination to unlock state funding for the plan’s proposals, said Dan Butler, chair of the Wareham Redevelopment Authority. 

“Wareham Master Plan 2020 is a document that we’ve read very carefully as we began to develop this plan, and I contend that we do, with the Urban Renewal Plan, conform to the Wareham Master Plan 2020,” said Dan Butler, chair of the Wareham Redevelopment Authority. 

The Planning Board agreed, and voted 4-0 to confirm the two plans did align. 

Several members of the public spoke in favor of the plan, while others asked questions about specific details. 

“I think we’ve been waiting for 30 years for this downtown to become revitalized, and I’m very pleased with the outcome so far,” said town resident Kim Scheub. 

Town resident Jim Munice asked if the town would need to review the plan’s environmental impact. Town officials confirmed that it would, due to the Environmental Justice Population present around Wareham Village. An Environmental Justice Population is defined by Massachusetts as a neighborhood with an annual income 65% of or less than the state average, a minority population of 40% or more or other similar factors. 

The plan will go to the state for review before it becomes adopted. The full plan can be viewed on the Wareham Redevelopment Authority tab on the town website, under the “Urban Renewal Plan” tab.