Wareham's new master plan drafted, ready for action

Mar 15, 2018

Preserving the character of neighborhoods such as Onset Village and Wareham Village, promoting high value retail centers and adding land for recreation and open space are what residents want to see in the town’s future.

That’s all according to a new document that’s been a year in the making.

Wareham’s master plan has been drafted and is set for the implementation stage, with an 88-page document ready for review. The master plan was last updated in 1998.

A master plan addresses a community’s goals for land use, housing, climate change, economic development, services and facilities, transportation, open space and recreation and natural and cultural resources. Having a master plan in place means town officials can work from a shared vision for the community and makes the town eligible for certain state grants.

The third master plan workshop was held on Thursday to lay out the plan and goals that have been developed over the last year, said Director of Planning & Community Development Ken Buckland.

A concise, user friendly master plan has been created over the last year with input from Wareham residents and the help of the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD), which is based in Taunton and helps with community planning in 27 cities and towns. SRPEDD assists towns to understand their goals and priorities and create a master plan that corresponds with those goals.

“We find simple truths and profound clues,” said Bill Napolitano, environment program director for SPREDD.

Transportation goals are one element highlighted in the master plan. One goal listed is to “advance safe and convenient multi-modal transportation.”

“The town’s scenic roadways, shorelines, and Village areas, including an existing commuter rail station, are a good foundation for this ‘multi-modal’ perspective,” the plan states. “Many public comments identified the need to build upon these assets to accommodate all users of the transportation network.”

Focusing on various types of transportation was also addressed in the 1998 master plan, particularly on expanding the commuter rail service.

Another strategy described is to support water-dependent activities and development in Onset Village and Wareham Center.

“The character, economy, and history of these areas depends on maintaining and supporting this relationship to the town’s waterways, particularly the Wareham and Wankinco Rivers, Broad and Sunset Coves, and Onset, Buttermilk, and Buzzards Bays,” the plan says.

The upcoming reconstruction of Route 6 and 28 will be actively supported, according to the new master plan. The project is scheduled to begin this year and address safety concerns in the area.

“The town should continue to work closely with affected residents, business-owners, and with other key stakeholders to bring this important safety project to fruition,” the master plan says.

Economic development goals listed include promoting the new industrial and office park development at the interchange of I-195 and Route 28 and improving the town government’s interactions with Wareham’s existing businesses and institutions.

When it comes to housing, the plan suggests exploring strategies that would count Wareham’s mobile homes as “affordable.” By reaching a 10 percent affordable housing threshold in town, as defined by the state, the town would have control over large affordable housing projects. Under state law, local zoning laws are relaxed for such projects in cities and towns that are below that 10 percent threshold.

Feedback will still be considered for the master plan, as it can be revised as new opportunities and goals arise for Wareham, Buckland said. But town officials said having an updated master plan is essential.

“The master plan is critical for the direction of where your town goes,” said Selectman Alan Slavin. “This is an important piece to make the town last long-term.”

The master plan vision draft includes a land use map, parties responsible for making certain goals a reality, how to measure success of each goal and example success stories.

To view the master plan, visit www.srpedd.org/Wareham-Master-Plan.

Comments on the master plan may be posted to the Wareham Master Plan Facebook page or emailed to the Planning Board at kbuckland@wareham.ma.us.