Master Plan Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. What is a Community Master Plan?

A. A Community Master Plan tells a community what it looks like today and what direction it has decided it wants to go for the future; it includes assessments of existing resources and issues, projections of future conditions and needs, and consideration of collective goals and desires is a policy guide and provides a framework for the physical development of the municipality. While the emphasis is on buildings and infrastructure, it reinforces the important social and economic values of the community. The master plan is a method of translating the community's values into specific actions covers a time frame of about 10-20 years; it is assumed that shorter-term reviews will keep it current with the changing needs of the community is closely integrated with other municipal planning documents and initiatives, for example in Charlton, the Open Space & Recreation Plan, Tri-Community (Charlton, Sturbridge, Southbridge) Corridor Planning Study, Economic Development Analysis of the Rt. 169 Corridor, etc. The Master Plan is NOT a zoning by-law, a subdivision regulation, a budget, a capital improvement program or other regulatory document. It is meant to be the basis for the preparation of these elements.

Q2. How can Charlton make use of its Master Plan?

A. The purpose of the master plan is to enable municipal officials to better manage change and to inform residents and businesses about the community's characteristics, trends, and policies. The plan will guide and regulate future residential, commercial and industrial growth in the Charlton community.

Q3. What does a Community Master Plan contain?

A. The plan contains the following sections, according to the requirements set out by Massachusetts General Laws for a comprehensive (master) plan.

  • The first section calls for a goals and policies statement. It requires each community to clarify values, create goals and identify patterns of development that will be consistent with these goals.
  • Land Use
  • Population and Housing
  • Economic Development
  • Natural and Cultural Resources
  • Transportation and Circulation
  • Town Services and Facilities
  • The final section, Implementation, defines schedules and notes funding sources for the specific actions necessary to achieve the objectives of each element above.

Q4. What does the Charlton master planning process look like?

A. The master planning process contains four tasks.

  • Task 1 consists of data collection and analysis, visioning with the public, and producing an "assets and liabilities" report that provides baseline data for planning.
  • Task 2 is the planning phase that determines the content of the plan for all elements.
  • Task 3 is when the draft plan is produced for public review and comment, and includes implementation actions.
  • Task 4 is the time for final review, documentation, and adoption of the plan by the Planning Board.

Q5. How will people in the community participate and learn what is going on during the master planning process?

A. All planning meetings are open to the public. Specific meetings will be advertised to solicit and encourage community participation. A variety of means will be used to keep people informed, for example, newspaper, cable TV, newsletters, and town web site. If you ever want to know what is happening, contact the Planning Board Office at Town Hall, or visit the master plan website.

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