By Sarah Garcia, Harbor Planning Director
The 2014 MHP (Municipal Harbor Plan) has taken a big step forward from the 2009 Plan by providing a data-driven foundation for maritime economy expansion, a less restrictive Designated Port Area, the framework for simplified permitting and a road map to bring about necessary local zoning changes and development tools that are essential for new investment on the working waterfront.
Here are a few highlights of the plan, which was overwhelming endorsed by the Gloucester Harbor Plan Committee in July.
Development tools to promote growth
The MHP recommends a simpler regulatory framework for development that will encourage a healthy blend of mixed-use and protection of the core water dependent industrial zone. At the same time, the plan recommends that the City review existing zoning codes to better preserve harbor front land for building footprints and public access. The plan also calls for establishing a vehicle or organization with the tools to effectively promote real estate development.
Mining data for growth
The City’s first-ever, in-depth, data-driven analysis of maritime opportunities (including detailed dockage and fishing vessel study conducted by the Fisheries Commission and Urban Harbors Institute, UMass Boston) yielded dramatic and telling information. One third of the local Gloucester workforce works in marine dependent industries.
Leveraging data to drive change
The 2014 Plan leverages a first-ever economic opportunity analysis of Gloucester’s fishery, tourism, and diversified/compatible working waterfront industries in the fishing port (opportunities such as marine genomics, robotics, and research) to influence the State’s analysis of core water dependent industrial uses allowed of as-right in DPAs throughout Massachusetts. This data is helping to drive a long-overdue modernization of state-wide changes to the DPA regulations, which are currently in draft form.
DPA boundaries that reflect Gloucester’s existing fabric
The removal of two areas of the East Gloucester DPA in April reflects the area’s significant residential and recreational boating uses and eliminates industrial restrictions on this pre-existing mixed-use commercial area.
Stakeholders on the working waterfront are encouraged by the progress made in advancing the Gloucester MHP. The process will continue with submission of the 2014 MHP and DPA Master Plan to the State for review and approval. Copies of the Plan will be available at the Sawyer Free Library, the Community Development Department on 3 Pond Road, and at City Hall. The Plan also will be posted on the city’s website on the harbor planning and development page.
Be sure to visit Gloucester 2.0 for more information as it becomes available.