2019 Comprehensive Plan Update

Click here to view a draft of the Comprehensive Plan Update.

Click here for information about the city-wide open house held November 20th, 2019. Slides presented at the open house are available at this link.

Welcome to Fitchburg’s Comprehensive Plan Update landing page! This webpage will provide a one-stop resource for the Update project, allowing the public to access information, contact project managers, and review the project’s status.

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The City of Fitchburg is updating its Comprehensive Plan in accordance with a 10-year update required by State Law.  An updated Plan will guide the city’s long-term growth with the next official update occurring around the year 2030. The City will continue to accept minor amendments annually.

This planning process is a “major” update, allowing potential revisions on growth policies that affect the city overall. The annual “minor” amendments, by comparison, are typically parcel or text specific and must not affect or contradict broader growth policies.

Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

What is a Comprehensive Plan? 

A Comprehensive Plan guides the city’s growth, decision-making, and investments. The planning horizon is long-term; the City's original plan considered a planning period of 50 years (while State Law requires a planning period of at least 20 years) to understand impacts of the city’s decisions today. The Plan guides not only the location of physical land development, but provides policy guidance on issues such as:

  • Community Character and Development: What are our neighborhoods like? What opportunities are available for residents with a diverse range of incomes and preferences? What is our community’s “sense of place”? Where are our central business districts, entertainment or recreation opportunities? What is our identity?
  • Economic Development: What kinds of jobs are available in our community? How can we promote quality development that adds value to the community? Where will new employment centers or industrial development be located?
  • Financial Investments: How much will development cost over the long term? This includes upfront infrastructure costs, replacement and maintenance costs in the future, and cost of services such as Fire, Police, Parks, and Senior Services required to serve the development. Where do we direct investments in public facilities such as roads, water and sewer utilities, and public buildings?
  • And more, including… intergovernmental cooperation, transportation, public facilities, natural resource management, housing, etc.

How is the Comprehensive Plan used? 

The City uses the Plan as a big-picture guide for actions and decisions.  It short, it plans WHERE and HOW growth will occur. This can be summarized in the Plan's "Future Land Use Plan Map" which is supported and expanded upon by the text of the Plan. 

Many actions are also informed by more detailed planning efforts that are incorporated into the Comprehensive Plan. We often refer to these more details plans as “area” plans or “functional” plans. Area plans could define detailed recommendations for a specific neighborhood, or strategies for a redevelopment area, for example. Functional plans might address a system or topic that spans a larger geographic area, such as a bicycle plan, housing plan, or agricultural plan. The Comprehensive Plan serves as a unifying “umbrella” Plan under which all other plans and goals are generally consistent. Fitchburg has many other detailed plans, which are available on the webpage for “Adopted Plans and Studies”.

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When city officials make decisions using the zoning ordinance, land division ordinance, tax increment districts, official map, capital improvement budgeting plan, intergovernmental agreements and more, State Law requires these decisions to be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.

City officials are not the only individuals using the Plan. Property owners and residents provide input on the Plan, and may use it to understand the future potential and character of development in their neighborhoods and community. Developers use it to understand where the city intends to direct growth and make investment decisions accordingly. Community organizations also use the Plan to guide and support their efforts. Land use planning seeks to provide a predictable system under which complex decisions by various stakeholders can be made.

How can I get involved?

We want to know what your vision is for the future of Fitchburg. Decisions made today impact our physical character and financial outlook for decades. 

What is the timeline for this process?

The Common Council adopted Resolution R-122-19, "A Resolution Approving the Timeline and Public Participation Procedures for the Comprehensive Plan Update" at their meeting on July 23, 2019. This Resolution sets forth a schedule allowing for adoption of an updated Plan by Spring 2020. It also includes general information regarding public participation opportunities. Signed R-122-19

City of Fitchburg Resources:

Other Resources: