To the Town of Sterling, I want to start by thanking the Sterling Master Plan Committee for its commitment and engagement, as well as those in the broader community that participated in the planning process. I also want to thank the Consultants – VHB and MRPC, who guided us through the development of the Master Plan and in the process pulled together a tremendous amount of data, research, and list of goals and recommended actions that helped to define what Sterling is today and that will guide Sterling moving into its future.
Our process to prepare the Sterling Master Plan began way back in April 2018, when the Select Board approved the Sterling Master Plan Committee Charter and appointed committee members. Over the course of 4 years, we held numerous events, such as the open house in April 2019 and community forums in November 2020 and April 2021, along with several public surveys. The outcomes of these engagements informed both the content and the direction of the Plan.
Our Master Plan puts forward a shared community vision that ties the goals and recommended actions together. Our Vision Statement reads as follows:
"Sterling is a community that values its natural beauty, agricultural history, and can-do spirit. We envision a sustainable and equitable future that protects our town legacy, purposefully promotes growth and development, embraces our ages and abilities, and encourages community engagement to enhance the quality of life for our diverse residents."
The goals and actions included within the Master Plan are organized by elements – or aspects that contribute to the functioning and activities of the community. Our Master Plan addresses seven elements: Land Use and Development Patterns; Economic Development; Housing; Natural, Cultural, and Historic Resources; Open Space and Recreation; Public Services and Facilities; and Transportation and Circulation. Interwoven within these elements were focuses on becoming age and dementia-friendly and sustainable and climate resilient.
Some highlights from the goals and actions of our Master Plan include:
- Balancing the Town’s rural and scenic character with the need for economic development;
- Attracting younger residents and families by supporting the next wave of retail and commercial investment;
- Preserving open space and agricultural land, while providing a housing supply that meets various demands – particularly of affordability;
- Promoting enhanced water quality and water conservation in light of the fact that we lack a public sewer system and based on future drought risks;
- Ensuring that our departments, namely the Department of Public Works, has the resources it needs to service current and future populations;
- Aligning our public services and facilities, including our recreational assets, with the evolving needs of our residents – including our aging population;
- Leveraging nature-based solutions in preparing Sterling for the impacts of climate change; and
- Expanding pedestrian, bicycle, and trail networks to encourage more active transportation modes that promote public health and also reduce transportation-related emissions.
Our Master Plan concludes with an Implementation Plan that lays out priorities for implementing the actions of the Plan over the next 10-15 years – whether policies, programs, or projects. It lists responsible parties and lays out reasonable timeframes. This implementation component was extensively reviewed internally within the municipal government to obtain feedback and buy-in.
It will be critical that all responsible parties and the larger community remain engaged through the implementation process. Further, it is important that the Town continually refer back to the Master Plan to ensure its decisions align with the will of the community, and to update this Plan regularly to ensure that it remains consistent with the community’s values and evolving priorities.
We hope everyone had a chance to review the Master Plan, and we are looking forward to the discussion and to see the Planning Board unanimously adopt the Plan here tonight. Thank you all for being here and for supporting the Master Plan throughout its development.
Patty Page, Chairman of the Master Plan Committee
To view the final adopted document, please click here.
This new plan will replace the Town's original Master Plan from 1962 which you can view here.