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Comprehensive Plan meeting moved to Sept. 29

Smithfield’s Planning Commission has rescheduled its next Comprehensive Plan work session for Sept. 29.

The meeting was to take place Sept. 15 at 6:30 p.m. in the Smithfield Center, but according to Planning Commission Chairman Randy Pack, it was moved due to concerns regarding the potential lack of a quorum.

Only three of Smithfield’s seven commissioners had attended the previous work session on Aug. 24. Without a quorum, meaning a majority, the commissioners are unable to take any formal action on matters presented. Pack expects a majority of members to be able to attend the Sept. 29 meeting, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Smithfield Center.

At the Aug. 24 meeting, the commissioners had discussed the preliminary vision statement their outside consultant, Anne Darby of Summit Design and Engineering, had created to guide the comprehensive plan process. Pack, who also serves as the Smithfield Town Council’s liaison to the Planning Commission, had asked Darby to rework the wording of her proposal to align with a vision statement the council had created in 2019.

The council’s vision statement included separate goals for seven categories: managed growth and beauty, economic development, historic preservation, cultural amenities, community pride and inclusion, public service and infrastructure and stewardship and governance.

Darby’s draft “Vision, Goals, Objectives and Strategies” report, as of Aug. 31, is now broken down into nine similar categories: community stewardship, managed growth and beauty, town design, historic preservation, economic development, transportation, cultural amenities, housing, and town services and infrastructure.

But aside from the reorganization, very little has changed from the version submitted to the town in July. It still recommends prioritizing bicycle and pedestrian access over cars as a means of reducing traffic congestion and redeveloping the South Church Street corridor east of the Cypress Creek Bridge to essentially become a more walkable area, similar in character to Main Street.

In the “town service” category, restoring curbside recycling pickup and achieving universal broadband access remain the No. 1 and No. 2 recommendations, respectively, based on survey responses from town residents Summit collected earlier this year. The town eliminated its recycling contract with Bay Disposal from its 2020-2021 budget, resulting in the cessation of curbside pickup earlier this year.