The Lynn City Council heard about the possibilities of having a municipal planning department.
Mark Fine, the director of municipal collaboration for the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) and Ralph Willmer, principal planner with MAPC answered the questions from the councilors.
“Lynn is the largest municipality in Massachusetts without a planner,” Fine said. “There is also no master plan.”
He noted that zoning has not been reviewed comprehensively in years. Arts and culture in Lynn have helped with community development, and it’s an area that is on the rise also in other communities.
Other communities that have planning departments include Lawrence with 22 positions, Newton with 30 positions in planning and development. Lowell has a 25-person department and Salem has a planning and community development office with 13-14 people in it. Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll also has a background in planning.
One model the MAPC looked at builds a strong core planning department to manage development review and planning activities, as well as coordination of development activity across city government. It would also supply support to the Planning Board, the Zoning Board, City Council and the Mayor. The model shows 8-12 personnel in the department and these would not be new positions.