BERLIN – The first meeting to gather citizen input on the renewed effort to write a new comprehensive plan for Berlin will take place April 30 at 7 p.m. in the Berlin Town Council chambers at Town Hall.
“What we’re looking to do initially is to kind of discuss the process with people, tell them what the state’s requiring and how to process works from our angle. The next step is to get input from the people,” said planning consultant Tim Bourcier, who is writing the new comprehensive plan. “These are upfront visionary meetings.”
The meeting was originally scheduled for April 16, but the Berlin Planning Commission was persuaded to change the date last week after townsfolk protested that the town had not given early enough notice of the meeting.
“This is a public input issue. It affects all of us and [there’s been] very little notification,” Berlin resident Sue Beeman told the Planning Commission at its April 9 meeting.
The original date had been advertised in a local daily newspaper and on the Berlin public-access television channel, but few knew of the event.
“You guys need to postpone this ‘til we get the word out,” said resident Ron Cascio.
The town has limited resources for advertising, Bourcier said, but promised to look into it.
Town staff could post flyers around town, Planning Commission member Pete Cosby suggested, and post it in the local newspapers.
“We’ve got to do that or we won’t get any local input,” Cosby said.
The best way to get the word out in a small town is to talk to people, Cascio said. “Give us enough time to go spread the word,” he said.
“For me the more participation, the better,” Bourcier said.
Bourcier has a second visioning meeting planned for the third Wednesday in May, May 21, which will focus on the African American community.
“According to Census numbers, 33 percent of Berlin is African American,” Bourcier said. “They generally don’t come out and give input on these things. We’re making sure we target the African American population.”
Everyone is welcome at both meetings, Bourcier said.
The meetings will concern concepts, not visuals.
“It won’t touch architecture at all. It’s mainly about growth and how the community sees itself in the future,” Bourcier said.
Bourcier intends to give each part of the draft comprehensive plan to the Planning Commission for review as it is completed.