Choose Your Future, A Series to Save Newfound Lake
Part 4: Conservation and Planning: The Perfect Balance
by Boyd Smith, Newfound Lake Region Association Executive Director
This is your land and your water. To protect what you love, you have to take an active part. This fourth installment of the Newfound Lake Region Association’s (NLRA’s) Choose Your Future series invites you to act and ensure your vision for the future comes true.
Town Master Plans set the tone of how and where a town will grow over time. They are publically crafted, consensus-based documents that define shared local values. Master Plans lay the foundation for rules and regulations designed to achieve a town’s vision.
The Newfound watershed’s five principal towns (Alexandria, Bridgewater, Bristol, Groton, and Hebron) share a common vision for their future: clean water, healthy forests, and small-town feel. Achieving these shared principles is at the heart of NLRA’s mission, strategies, and programs.
The NLRA believes that balancing smart growth with conservation builds the best of all worlds -– a healthy local economy with a robust and resilient natural environment. By taking control at the local level through planning and zoning, we create a future of our choosing. By not crafting thoughtful and effective land-use rules, we give away our local control to others.
Much of the watershed is best suited to remain forested and undeveloped. Poor access and steep terrain make widespread development unlikely in the near term. However, the Newfound area is growing at or above the State average, especially in Alexandria and Hebron. In addition, a single house or clearing in a highly visible location can have a disproportionate impact. Since we depend on shared resources such as views and clean water, group action is required to retain both natural beauty and economic vitality.
Beginning in early June, the NLRA and our partners Dan Sundquist and Steve Whitman will meet with each watershed town to present new, state-of-science information related to local conservation and planning. We encourage you to join us to build a stronger voice in your community.
Dan, with the engagement of a watershed-wide stakeholder group, has completed an analysis of conservation focus areas (CFAs) that identifies highest-value conservation lands and priorities, as well as most likely areas for future development. Steve has reviewed local Master Plans and will identify areas for regulations and guidance to help each town achieve their vision.
If you want to learn more about the land in the Newfound area from some of the region’s most qualified and personable experts, we will be meeting with local Planning Boards beginning at 7:00 p.m. on the following dates and locations:
- June 7, Hebron (Land Use Office, 7 Church St.)
- June 20, Bridgewater (Town Office, Mayhew Tpk.)
- June 28, Groton (Town Office, North Groton Rd.)
- July 19, Alexandria (Town Office, Washburn Rd.)
- July 26, Bristol (Town Office, Lake St.)
We encourage you to attend to take part in choosing your town’s future, so it aligns with the Master Plan vision. Please join us to learn more about Newfound’s resources and options, and to share your ideas and concerns for the future with your local Planning Board.