A committee tasked with blazing a path for new business development and housing in Sandwich met for the first time this week.
The committee’s formal name—the Sandwich Local Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee—is almost as big as the task set before its members.
In short, the eight committee members must create a go-to reference guide for planners, the zoning board of appeals, developers, the town manager and selectmen, among others, as they make decisions about shaping the town’s composition for the next 10 years.
On Wednesday, July 29, the newly appointed members introduced themselves to each other during the 90-minute Zoom meeting, elected a chairman, heard presentations from the planning director and assistant planning director, and agreed to do some homework before their next meeting in two weeks.
Judith Holt, who is a relative newcomer to Sandwich, but not to serving on—and running—advisory committees, was unanimously elected as chairwoman of the group.
She is the founder of Judith Holt Design, an architectural and interior design company that specializes in green, energy-efficient buildings.
Ms. Holt said she also spent 11 years at Harvard University working on large-scale strategic projects and spearheaded many committees with complex goals that were composed of people with a variety of backgrounds. She moved to Sandwich about 18 months ago.
The rest of the local comprehensive plan steering committee roster also comes from diverse backgrounds ranging from Nanette Perkins, an affordable housing specialist who chairs the Sandwich Housing Authority board of commissioners, to Jeffrey Picard, a former engineer in the aerospace industry who now serves on the planning board.
David Darling, another planning board member, described himself as a “thought leader,” and who is a retired economist and community planner.
The other members of the committee are Jonathan Fitch, who described himself as “a recovering lawyer who is trying hard to retire”; Jonathan Finn, a freelance copywriter who specializes in marketing and branding, and Paul Carroll, a retired Massachusetts Port Authority police officer.
A yet-to-be-chosen representative from the Sandwich Historical Commission did not attend Wednesday’s meeting.
The previous committee met for more than a year before coming up with a master plan for the town’s development. It helped shape zoning decisions for the last 10 years, said Ralph Vitacco, director of planning and economic development.
Mr. Vitacco said the new committee will look at how such areas as business development, housing, and green space should be allocated and encouraged.
The Sandwich Planning Board will oversee the new committee’s efforts.
Mr. Vitacco said the current Sandwich Local Comprehensive Plan was certified in 2009. In 2018 the Cape Cod Commission, a regional planning agency, completed its Regional Policy Plan.
The Cape Cod Commission encourages local communities to review their comprehensive plans in an effort to coordinate goals to align with the overarching objectives of the region while addressing local issues, according to the Cape Cod Commission’s website.
The local members will also be expected to look into wastewater solutions, business development and beach erosion, according to the planning board.
Mr. Vitacco has said he hoped the committee could finish a draft master plan by spring 2021. The draft would then go to voters at Town Meeting for approval and ultimately to the Cape Cod Commission for certification.
The committee’s homework is to look closely at the local comprehensive plan completed by Bourne last year and already certified by the Cape Cod Commission.
“It is a good, workable document,” Mr. Vitacco said of the Bourne master plan.
The committee is scheduled to meet again on Wednesday, August 12.