BURRILLVILLE – The Town Council has approved an updated version of Burrillville’s comprehensive plan that adds language needed to meet state standards and lays out goals for the future, including further development of bike paths for recreation, and a focus on the village of Nasonville.
The document also took aim at the controversial issue of power plant development, listing discouragement of fossil fuel energy production, particularly outside the town’s industrial zones, as a goal.
The plan, which outlines the town’s objectives for future growth, is required under state law. The process aims to help manage land and natural resources in communities across Rhode Island and to encourage strategic decision making by municipal leaders.
“The Comprehensive Plan is a broad-based policy document which presents the town’s intentions for its future development as defined by the citizens of the community and adopted by the Planning Board and Town Council,” the document notes.
Burrillville’s plan was last updated in 2004 and since that time, state standards have changed, with new requirements added including sections on energy, natural hazards, and climate change, and additional maps and data. The latest plan has been several years in the making, starting with a charrette back in 2014 where town officials and residents discussed community objectives, such as preservation of Burrillville’s rural character.
The version produced by town planners took a strong stance against new fossil fuel energy production centers, an important issue in light of Invenergy LLC’s still pending proposal to build a power plant off of Wallum Lake Road.
“The negative impacts such a development would have on neighboring property owners, state management lands, the town as a whole, and neighboring communities would not be worth the power generated or the potential for lower energy rates,” the plan notes.
Planners have spent months updating town data and information throughout the document, a task they note made up some 80 percent of the work. They also had to add the required maps, and identify things such as the type of recreation and housing most needed based on the town’s population trends.
For recreation, planners emphasized the need to create more bike paths in Burrillville, and to connect existing ones. They also noted the need to connect village centers with area resources, and extend municipal water and sewer to industrial and commercial land along Route 102.
In Nasonville, they noted the need to redevelop the mill complex at 770 Douglas Pike, extend public water and sewer, connect both sides of the Branch River for pedestrians and cyclists, and plan for alternative types of housing, such as cottages.
Projects to redevelop the villages Harrisville and Pascoag, already underway, have been guided by previous versions of the town’s comprehensive plan and to date, have been hailed as highly successful by town and state officials.
The first public hearing on the complete draft of the latest plan was held in July, and input from town councilors was added before the final version was passed unanimously earlier this month. The document now goes before state officials for review before it becomes binding on all state agencies.
Councilor Raymond Trinique thanked the board for their work, pointing also to the section on fossil fuel.
“You do a lot and I appreciate it,” Trinque said. “One of the most vicious groups fighting against us is the state board of energy.”
Town Manager Michael Wood also thanked planners and zoners for their input.
“This has been an unbelievably good process,” Wood said. “This is important for the town and you’ve done a wonderful job. The plan is good for the town in the long term.”