Master plan


Currently the town is doing master planning for the redevelopment of the former MSH site, and also needs to also do a town wide master plan.  I was recently asking Sarah Raposa, the Town Planner, whether there is an opportunity at present to combine both needed planning processes into one.  She suggested that where we have already put out an RFP to select a planner for the MSH site, that it would now be better to complete the planning for the MSH site as a separate process from the town wide master plan.  Teresa James who has an employment history with a planning firm, counseled that much of what is developed for the MSH site will actually be useable in the town wide master plan.

As part of our discussion, I admitted my general lack on knowledge about the whole planning process, and so she sent me a link to the Town of Marshfield’s website on its master planning,which contains a nice summary of master planning.  This is the description from that site:


What is a Master Plan?

A 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 future land use decision-making and the physical development of the municipality. While the emphasis is on buildings and infrastructure, it does not ignore the important social, natural resource 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 Marshfield the recently completed Open Space and Recreation Plan.

The Master Plan is NOT a zoning bylaw, a subdivision regulation, a budget, a capital improvement program or other regulatory document. It is meant to provide the framework for the development of these plan implementation tools.

What is involved in preparing a Master Plan?

  • The Planning Board will be overseeing the master planning process
  • Public outreach and meetings
  • Data collection and analysis that will ultimately be rolled into the Master Plan document
  • Preparation of the chapters of the plan (sometimes called plan elements)
  • New implementation plan.

Information and data are gathered from the other prior planning studies, while current views and opinions are being collected through community events where residents are invited to provide inputs. Other sources include data provided from state census data, and mapping data provided by one of the consulting teams.

What are the major sections of the Master Plan document?

  • Community Vision and Goals and Policies Statement
  • History
  • Land Use
  • Housing
  • Economic Development
  • Open Space and Recreation
  • Natural, Cultural and Historic Resources
  • Transportation
  • Capital Facilities
  • Climate Change Adaptation Strategies (prepared by students from the University of Massachusetts Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning)
  • Implementation Plan

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