Will the new Master Plan of Plymouth be an instruction to builders, or will it be a politically correct statement ignored by the builders? Plymouth administration must answer this question to Plymouth taxpayers who paid $500,000 for this plan. The recent history of this town doesn’t present a hopeful view.

The Planning Board and Select Board bargain with builders of market-rate housing instead of planning the new growth for the town and inviting the builders to build it. That is why we have ugly 40B projects that destroy natural environment and don’t make truly affordable housing. That is why the market rate housing is growing through the roof and our working families cannot afford a house or a condo.

In addition to Plymouth Master Plan of 2004, we had five other strategic plans that preached for all the good thing to be done but were mostly ignored. Here is a quote from Plymouth Master Plan Update 2022:

“Plymouth’s tradition of planning for its future dates back to Colonial times. The original Mayflower Compact established a framework of community rules for self-governance. Modern planning efforts began in 1949 with the adoption of the Plymouth Compact of 1949 – A Guidebook To Plymouth’s Future. This early master plan was followed by the Plymouth Compact as revised to 1961, the Plymouth Compact III–a 1966 comprehensive plan for Plymouth, the 1978 Goals for Plymouth, and the groundbreaking 1980 Village Centers Plan. The most resent comprehensive master plan was adopted in 2006. As the current master plan enters its 15th year, it is essential to revisit Plymouth’s vision for the future and update the master plan.”

And here is the list of strategic postulates regurgitated a thousand times:

“Control sprawl: Sprawl is large-lot low-density development that consumes open space.” And yet most of Plymouth development creates exactly that same dreaded sprawl.

“Protect the environment: Plymouth is the center of biodiversity and lies above the largest aquifer in Massachusetts.” And yet developers cut woods, dig out sand and sell it for profit.

“Preserve Character: Plymouth natural and built landscapes include historic sites, village settlements, rural landscapes, forests, coastline, ponds, streams, wetlands, and cranberry bogs. These landscapes define Plymouth’s character and must be preserve.” And yet this character is changing before our very eyes by building the same large-lot low-density developments that destroy the above listed character.

“Encourage Economic Development: Economic development provides jobs for Plymouth residents and tax revenues to help pay for town services.” And yet most Plymouth residents indiscriminately resist new construction that provides economic development.

“Balance Cost and Growth: Compact commercial and residential development costs less than sprawling development, both in terms of town service and impact on the land.” And yet again: the town gives building permits to large-lot low-density developments that cost more than the compact developments.

“Improve Quality of Life: Residents want opportunities to live, work, and play in town and to enjoy Plymouth’s uniqueness.” But only wealthy retired seniors can enjoy this uniqueness. The others have to drive many miles to work, shop and play, and pollute environment in the process.

It would be good to finally implement the prescriptions of our own wisdom, but that will take a weather change in our municipal environment. I suggest selecting the most desirable projects and proposals, and include them in the new Plymouth Master Plan. These projects and proposals are long overdue: The 1,500-acre Holtec land, several Ten Minute Villages in the village centers, the former Bert’s and the next-door Pilgrim Sands hotel, affordable housing on the town-owned land, and others.

I hope that the new Master Plan will be an instruction not only to builders of Plymouth future, but to its community and administration. Please come to the meeting at Town Hall on June 20 and speak.

Anatol Zukerman

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