Comprehensive Plan Public Workshop to be held at Senior Center


Cranstonians  are invited on February 22 at 6 p.m. to attend a charrette style public workshop at the Senior Enrichment Center to discuss updates to Cranston’s Comprehensive Plan. As part of the first phase of the city’s work to write an entirely new Comprehensive Plan in the coming year, residents will have an opportunity to discuss what they value in the city, and what they would like to see improved over the next two decades.

“The  comprehensive plan is the legally binding document that guides the future development of the city for the next 20 plus years,” City Planning Director Jason Pezzullo told the Herald. “It touches on a number of elements including land use, housing, circulation, economic development, and it forms the basis of how we see zoning and how we see growth and preservation.”

Cranston’s  Comprehensive Plan is being updated in phases. The first, of which this charrette is a part, is an update of the existing plan, which has been in place since the mid 2000’s.

“We're shooting to get through phase one of the comprehensive plan done with the City Council in early fall,” Pezzullo said. “This is phase one, where we're doing strictly an update of the goals, policies, and objectives. We're not doing new policies at this phase unless they're mandated by state law.”

Phase two, during which Cranston will create the new comprehensive plan, will begin after the completion of phase one, and will likely take six to eight months to complete.

Cranston ’s planning department is working in conjunction with Weston and Sampson, a Rhode Island engineering firm which also works with municipalities to create plans such as this one, to organize and facilitate the charrette. Representatives from both City Hall and Weston and Sampson will be facilitating conversations at the charrette, taking down information which will be used in the update process.

“This will be the first workshop in this part-one of updating the plan,” Ashley Sweet, a project manager for Weston and Sampson said. “The idea here is to get a general sentiment from the public that participates of what they feel is working well in Cranston, what they feel needs to be improved, and what they want to retain as we move forward.”

On the night  of the charrette, there will be a number of tables at which members of the public will be invited to sit and discuss, with each of the tables designated for discussions regarding one of the many topics relevant to the comprehensive plan.

“We'll be using a round-table style workshop where people will be able to go from table to table and talk about these topic specific issues,” Sweet explained. “We'll use boards and post-it notes and really just any mechanism we can to gather information from the public as they move through these different distinctions of the workshop to talk about things like natural resources, and services, and facilities, transportation, land use and all of the different topic areas of the comprehensive plan.”

The  public workshop, which was originally scheduled for January 24, was rescheduled so the planning dept. could find a satisfactory method of live-streaming the event. Due to a city ordinance, all planning commission meetings must be streamed, and the charrette is no exception. However, the participatory nature of the charrette combined with its occurring simultaneously among many smaller groups at more than a dozen tables, means that it would be impossible to capture the event in its entirety for a streaming audience.

Pezzulli explained “With the typical meetings that are streamed, people are watching the proceedings of either an official board, like the Planning Commission, or the city council. They're watching those official proceedings. That's not what this is, in this case. The official proceeding IS the public. All the focus is on the public to have discussions and give us feedback.”

The compromise that was reached in this case is this. A moderator from the city or Weston and Sampson will moderate a single table, at which digital participants will be able to discuss with one another about any of the relevant subjects. However, to experience the workshop best, one should try to attend in person. 

“There's no way you can stream everyone's conversations at every table,” Pezzulli said. “That's just not possible. So there will be a component. I want to stress that we're not encouraging anyone to do that. If they can, come to the meeting."

However, the need for the public to be present for better participation does not mean anyone unable to attend will lose access to the information gathered. After the meeting, all of the data, testimonials, and ideas shared from the disparate discussions will be synthesized and made available.

“There's pictures taken of all people's writings and it's all synthesized so that we're able to get a sense of what everyone did say,” Sweet said.

The charrette is  an important part, but not the only part, of the planning dept.’s data collection process for the comprehensive plan. In addition to hearing from the public at this and other meetings, they will be examining existing conditions analysis, hearing from boards and commissions within the city, and taking staff assessments of city workers.

“We’re looking at census data, housing data, economic development data, and really making sure that there's an up to date baseline of information in the plan that can educate people's decisions and policy directives from that information,” Pezzullo explained.

This  information and more will be available through the Comprehensive Plan’s website, run through the city’s official site. At this site attendees of the meeting will also be able to register for the public workshop, a courtesy which is not mandatory, but will help the organizers create the best possible experience.

“We're asking if people would register so that we can get a sense of the size of the group so that we can plan for how many breakout tables we're going to need, and things like that,” Sweet said. 

She continued “The website will be a resource throughout the process where information will get posted. There'll be drafts available for review, once we get to that point. There is a feature available for you to pick a map location and talk about what you like, what you don't like, what your concerns are with specific areas of town, and there's just a general contact feature as well.”

To register or to attend online, visit:

Cranston Comprehensive Plan Public Workshop:

When: February 22, 2024 at 6 p.m.

Where: Cranston Senior Enrichment Center at 1070 Cranston St, Cranston, RI 02920

Cranston, city hall, comprehensive plan, city council, planning committee


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