Opinion: Questions about Dartmouth’s Master Plan

Jul 10, 2023

To the Editor:
Dartmouth has a draft of a Master Plan available on its website. This is a document that every town is supposed to have updated every ten years. Dartmouth’s last one was in 2007. Most of the work has been done by SRPEDD (the Souteastern Regional Planning and Development District). Here is a quote from the introduction to this year’s current draft:

“A Master Plan can be many things. It is a narrative document describing the story of Dartmouth’s history and the experience of living in town today. It is a technical document that considers population trends and land use changes over time to chart where we are now and where these trends may be taking us tomorrow. It is a policy document that lays out an optimal vision for Dartmouth, and articulates the strategies, actions, and decisions that will assist the town in arriving at that future.”

This could represent a tremendous opportunity. Dartmouth is rapidly approaching a major fiscal crisis where capital project needs are surpassing current revenue projections and the necessity of an over-ride has been mentioned. A long-range planning committee has been formed to address this but no mention has been made of making use of the Master Plan. Over the past to years the Planning Board, Select Board, Finance Committee, School Committee, and DPW had an opportunity to produce such a plan that could ultimately be approved by Town Meeting. However, population projections which would be critical to capital planning do not appear to exist in the current Master Plan draft.

This year’s short term budget short fall was resolved by delaying some ultimately needed road work but that won’t work indefinitely. What will the impact of the growing population be on water and sewage requirements, land use, schools, etc.? When will Town Meeting be allowed to discuss?

It has been said that the current draft of the Master Plan is available for all to see; that many public meetings have been held to discuss but where is the public discussion? Voter turn out has been low. Does that indicate people don’t care what happens to their town? How can the town get more people involved?

Fred Dabney
82 Fairway Drive
No. Dartmouth, MA 02747