Norwich Council enlisting NCDC to update comprehensive city plan

Norwich - City officials set aside money in this year's budget to hire a consultant to help write the update of the comprehensive city plan and zoning regulations, but on Tuesday the City Council voted unanimously to give the work to the Norwich Community Development Corp. instead.

The council approved a resolution to allocate up to $50,000 to hire NCDC to write the updated comprehensive plan that should codify the recently approved Plan of Conservation and Development.

Aldermen asked several questions before voting on the resolution. City Manager Alan Bergren said there is money set aside in the budget to hire a consultant to write the plan. In years past, the staff in the Planning and Development Department had written plan updates, but now, that staff has been reduced to "one professional," Bergren said, referring to planning director Peter Davis.

Jason Vincent, vice president of NCDC, has been a certified planner for 15 years and worked for Planimetrics - the consulting firm the city hired to write the POCD - before joining NCDC.

NCDC presented the council with a three-page "scope of work" Tuesday that included three main phases of the project, starting with establishing a joint steering committee with members from the Commission on the City Plan, City Council, the Harbor Management Commission and one member of the public.

The next two phases, which could take about a year, would include writing a draft plan, revising it and creating a final plan that would be presented to the City Council around May or June 2015. Along the way, NCDC would hold public meetings, the first one slated for sometime in May, workshops with other city agencies and formal public hearings once the draft is written sometime around next February.

Developing the draft comprehensive plan would take the longest, about nine to 11 months, and would cost about $40,000 of the $50,000 project budget.

Vincent said he also wants to reach out to professionals in the building trades and developers who deal with city planning and zoning regulations frequently to learn about their experiences with the current plan.

c.bessette@theday.com

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