OAKLAND — After more than 30 months of meetings and workshops by Oakland’s Comprehensive Planning Committee, a 174-page comprehensive plan proposal is now complete and available for the community to read.

The next step comes during the Nov. 3 election, when Oakland residents will vote on approving the plan and giving the town its first updated comprehensive plan since 1995.

Committee Chairman Robert Nutting and Vice Chairwoman Laura Tracy spearheaded a group of a dozen community members who met more than two dozen times since late 2017.

Most of the plan was finished six months ago. The committee tried to get it on the ballot for the June primary, but the vote was pushed back to further massage the plan and ease the pressures on the town during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We wanted to make this a comprehensive plan for Oakland’s future,” said Nutting, who also serves on the Oakland Town Council. “In one sentence, the idea of a comprehensive plan is similar to what a business would call a business plan. It’s where have you been and where do you want to be in the future?”

Three subcommittees were formed and conducted workshops throughout the planning process.

A “SWOT” analysis group examined Oakland’s strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats. Another subcommittee reviewed an old plan. The third committee conducted a mailed survey of residents and collected public input.

“Breaking it up into three different subcommittees helped a lot, so that all 12 of us didn’t have to get together three- or four-dozen times,” Nutting said. “I sat in on all the subcommittees, and it was pretty labor intensive, all three subcommittees were.”

Nutting encouraged Oakland residents to read the history portion. Oakland has evolved from a manufacturing and farming community to a bedroom community for Waterville and Augusta.

Nutting said community members wanted to retain a “small-town feel,” but also grow. Residents also expressed interest in maintaining and improving downtown Oakland.

The Town Council is forming a committee to look at tax increment financing for the downtown area.

Oakland’s property tax rate — $16.40 per $1,000 of assessed valuation — is among the region’s lowest for a full-service community, and residents want it to stay that way.

“That’s obviously one of the benefits when you look at the SWOT analysis,” Nutting said. “People are not interested in doing things that negatively impact that mil (property tax) rate, but they would like to see more business, and they would like to see a restaurant or two where they could go out to eat.”

The Riverside Farm Restaurant & Wine Market offers lunch and dinner, but is closed until Oct. 20 when the market will reopen and porch-side pickup will again be available. The Thirsty Mule on Kennedy Memorial Drive is a sports bar that serves pub fare, and the Early Bird Restaurant on Main Street serves only breakfast and lunch, but is closed now due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some community members want more activity and parks.

All of these concerns are addressed in the plan. Running a sewer along Kennedy Memorial Drive, increasing the broadband bandwidth downtown and increasing development on Kennedy Memorial Drive are also on the table.

“It’s a list of the pros and the cons of what Oakland has to offer and how it can improve in the future,” Nutting said. “I think we’ve got a good plan, and I think optimistically that it’ll pass.”


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