Brookfield Trustee Mark Ferrara said he wants the trustees to revisit the comprehensive plan that a previous board of trustees adopted in 2017.
“A lot’s changed,” Ferrara said at the March 7 trustees meeting. “I think all of us collectively kind of need to step back and see what our strengths are.”
A comprehensive plan, according to the 2017 plan, establishes a long-term development framework for the township, and makes recommendations to improve aspects of the community. The current plan was designed as a guide for the trustees in making decisions that allow for growth, but preserve the township’s character, values and way of life.
Ferrara said he does not want to bring in a paid consultant – the last plan had one – and thinks township officials can do the work themselves.
The township has strengths such as reasonable taxes, good safety forces and a “gem” in Yankee Run Golf Course, Ferrara said.
“Are we gonna have a Target store built at Valley View? Probably not,” Ferrara said. “What are our strengths, and focus on those. I think collectively we all want the same thing.”
The 2017 100-page plan recommended developing a zoning ordinance – which voters nixed – working to expand water and sewer service, preserving the historic aspects of the township, making the township more pedestrian and biking friendly, and increasing police presence.
Recommendations the township has followed through on include working with Trumbull County Tourism Bureau and neighboring municipalities to promote tourism, such as the Route 7 Garage Sale; meeting with the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber to discuss properties for development; rebuilding the township website; and creating a social media presence.
Trustee Dan Suttles said he sees the current plan as “a precursor to zoning,” although “it gives you some ideas on how to move forward” on other issues.
“If we want to look at some sort of comprehensive plan to benefit the township by brainstorming between the trustees and the community, I don’t have a problem with that at all,” Suttles said.” I think it’s a good idea. I would be in favor of any brainstorming with the community to make Brookfield better.”
Suttles said he would not want to go into revisiting the plan as a way of bringing zoning – the regulation of land use – back to the table, but zoning should be part of the discussion.
“I think, if you’re doing that process, you should ask that question at a public hearing-type atmosphere,” he said. “I think people don’t want zoning in Brookfield. As painful as that may be, it’s the truth. The minute the trustees think we know what’s better for the community than the community knows, that’s dangerous. I think we need to listen to them. That’s what we’re here for.”
Suttles said he does not look at the plan regularly. The last time he looked at it probably was in 2018 in the run up to the last zoning referendum.
“Do I look at it on a regular basis? No,” Suttles said. “Should I? Maybe I should.”
Trustee Ron Haun supported reviewing the plan.
“We need to review our comprehensive plan and see if it is meeting some of the needs of the township,” he said. “The pressing need of the township right now is the roads. I think we should review the comprehensive plan and see if it addresses that. If the present comprehensive plan does not address that, then we need to do a separate study strictly for the roads to make the residents aware of the needs of the township when it comes to concerning the roads.”
Haun said he would want to talk to Road Supt. Jaime Fredenburg about the best way to formulate a plan for the roads, and would be willing to bring the Trumbull County Engineer’s Office into the discussion if Fredenburg recommends it.
The roads are not the township’s only pressing issue, said Haun, who listed attracting good employees as another.
“The township should always review things,” he said.
As to whether he refers to the plan in making decisions, Haun said, “I have to go through all that with both trustees again to give you an answer on that.”