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Allenstown residents invited to ‘visioning session’

ALLENSTOWN — For the second time in six months, Allenstown planning officials are asking residents to attend a public forum aimed at establishing the town’s master plan for the next decade.

The planning board, with assistance from the Central New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission (CNHRPC) will hold a community visioning session on Wednesday, May 14, at 6:30 p.m. at Allenstown Elementary School.

The session is part of updating the town’s 10-year master plan. Residents will have the opportunity to share their opinions on zoning, transportation, land use, economic development, community and recreational facilities, natural features, utilities and public services, housing and demographics.

“Any town that has zoning ordinances needs to have a master plan that sets the groundwork,” said CNHRPC President Matthew Monahan. “Part of the master plan process is obtaining public feedback, and that’s really what this does. The visioning session will help us determine where we’re headed.”

A similar visioning session was held in November, and surveys were distributed last year, and then again at town meeting, in order to create a list of citizens’ priorities and preferences that will be discussed at the upcoming forum.

“We’ll share some of that data and other facts such as traffic count information, economic changes, things like that,” said Monahan. “We’ll essentially say, ‘here are the facts on the ground, now how do you envision your community 10 years from now?’”

Monahan said revising the master plan is an important process in establishing and maintaining a profile that’s agreeable to the town’s residents.

More than likely, the upcoming visioning session will be the final public step in the process. The master plan is then likely to be adopted and implemented in the next year or so, said Monahan, who noted current zoning ordinances may impact the implementation of the master plan.

“Typically there is a bit of a push-pull relationship with zoning, so (Allenstown planners) will probably look at their zoning again and say ‘hey, are we doing what people want us to do?’ And if not, they’ll probably make appropriate changes,” he said. “If it’s consistent with what they’re already doing, they probably won’t make any changes.”

Town officials, added Monahan, are also likely to look to the master plan to draw information with which to determine capital improvement plans.

“This is all about the data, the people’s vision and producing an overall idea of what the community wants for Allenstown,” he said. “I’d encourage anyone to participate in this process because it’s what drives, at least from the land-use perspective, what the town’s zoning regulations say. It all stems from the master plan.”

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