Newcastle residents will soon have an opportunity to voice their opinions and help shape the town’s new comprehensive plan and land use ordinance.
The Newcastle Local Planning Committee will host events and workshops Thursday, April 28 through Monday, May 2 as the town begins to write the new comprehensive plan and land use ordinance.
“We don’t want to present an idea of what we want the town to do,” said Newcastle Local Planning Committee Co-chair Ben Frey. “We really want to get the town together, with as many people as we can, to help create the new comprehensive plan and land use ordinance.”
The new comprehensive plan and land use ordinance will balance encouraging development, preserving the history of the town, and maintaining the character of Newcastle, Frey said.
“It is an important process, because we’re trying to imagine what Newcastle can be in five, 10, even 20 years from now,” committee Co-chair Ellen Dickens said. “We want to continue the town’s legacy, and I think we have a lot to live up to and a lot of exciting things that can happen.”
One of the key parts of developing the plan and ordinance is determining the identity of the town of Newcastle, Frey said. The committee launched the #ThisIsNewcastle photo campaign, in which residents are encouraged to take a photo in town holding a “This Is Newcastle” sign.
Additional “This Is Newcastle” signs can also be found around town.
Members of the planning committee are currently going door-to-door throughout Newcastle spreading the news about the events to try and get as many people involved as possible.
“There’s been a really positive response so far,” Frey said. “Almost everyone I’ve talked to about it has said they’re excited that we want to get people involved.”
A kickoff and opening workshop will be held at the Lincoln Academy applied technology and engineering center on Thursday, April 28 starting with pizza at 5:30 p.m.
A variety of focus groups will be held Friday, April 29 and Saturday, April 30, addressing topics such as streets, trails, and mobility; public safety and public services; development; farming, forestry, and working lands; community, arts, education, and social services. There will also be a local business mixer.
A block party and community check-in will be held Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. at 68 Main St., at corner of Main and Pump Streets, in Newcastle.
Festivities will conclude with a presentation and conversation Monday evening, May 2 at the Newcastle fire station community room.
During the weekend events, Maine Design Workshop, the consulting firm that will draft the new comprehensive plan and land use ordinance, will be available to answer questions. The consultants will draft the comprehensive plan and land use ordinance in the months that follow. Frey said the committee will have finished drafts of both documents by the end of the year, which will then need to go through public hearings.
“This is really just the beginning,” Frey said. “It’s a long process, but in the end it will be worth it.”
For more information and a full schedule of events, go to newcastlemaine.us or facebook.com/thisisnewcastle.