GREAT BARRINGTON -- A revised vision for the future of Great Barrington is on the books.
Town officials have adopted a new set of community goals that address challenges including an aging infrastructure and the need for higher paying jobs.
The Select Board and Planning Board last week signed off on the goals laid out in an 87-page revision to the town's 1997 master plan.
"If you're receiving a special permit it ought to further a goal or vision of the master plan," town Planner Chris Rembold said during the meeting. "If you're seeking a capital project it ought to be here in some way, shape or form. Let's not spend money we don't have on something as a community we don't want."
The revised document was developed over three yeas by the Master Plan Committee in consultation with members of town boards and commissions. It includes sections on land and economic development, housing, agriculture, historic and cultural resources and other topics related to long-term development.
Challenges identified include tens of millions of dollars in infrastructure repairs expected to be needed in the next two decades. Town properties in need of repair include Monument Mountain Regional High School, the wastewater treatment plan and the Bridge Street bridge. Other priorities identified in the report include accommodating the needs of an aging and declining population, the need for a high-paying job base and climate change concerns.
The document outlines immediate policy recommendations that can be enacted to address these challenges.
The Master Plan Committee urged town officials to encourage mixed-use zoning and infill development to protect the town's small-town setting and attractive natural surroundings.
Other recommendations include rezoning in Housatonic. According to the master plan, the village zoning was instituted in 1960 and does not conform with current needs. The zoning should encourage mixed use and shared parking without requiring special permitting to encourage infill.
The policy recommendations were encouraged because they could be enacted without town meeting approval.
In the next year to five years, the town is encouraged to fix the old Housatonic school for use, focus on energy conservation and prepare to allocate resources for repairing the Bridge Street bridge.
In the next decade, "vision projects" that will require sustained and significant investment includes repairing the Great Barrington Fairgrounds and Housatonic mills.
Board of Selectman Chairman Sean Stanton said the town can immediately use the special permit process to achieve goals outlined in the master plan.
"I think the Select Board's priorities are pretty closely aligned to what's in the master plan," Stanton said. "I wouldn't say it changes much."