Groton In 2040
The ongoing discussions regarding the Master Plan evoke memories of Groton 30-odd years ago. Then, as now, Groton was in a transition; people rightly felt that decisions being made as to changes in our collective priorities as reflected in the Master Plan would define the type of town we would become.
Groton in the late 1970s was a semi-rural community which had seen very little development. The three villages, the Center, West Groton, and Lost Lake, all faced challenges unique to those areas, and the large swaths of land which separated those villages were still largely vacant. Such open space as we had was open simply because it wasn't being used for anything yet. Our zoning had limited controls, and no incentives to guide development to a more responsible form.
The consensus developed then allowed the creation of zoning controls which enabled Groton to successfully navigate through a period of intense development pressure, the likes of which we are unlikely to see again for decades.
Unlike most of the communities which surround us, Groton is still recognizable as a community; such changes as we have seen have been evolutionary in character.
Development has occurred, but has been executed in such a way so as to minimize its impacts, compressing development into smaller areas while creating significant areas of permanently protected open space. As a community we have been aggressive in utilizing a variety of available legal tools (permanent preservation restrictions for conservation, agricultural land, and historic preservation, transfer of development rights, and creative funding vehicles) to purchase or protect the significant landscapes which define this town.
All things considered, this effort was successful, thanks to the efforts of many hard-working individuals, and also the many landowners willing to consider more than just the bottom line on a balance sheet.
We are now in another transition as a town, and are becoming more suburban than semi-rural. The challenges we will face in the coming decades are different, and much more subtle. The way they are addressed will determine if Groton is recognizable as the community we know 30 years from now.
Most of the significant landscapes and prime development land have either been protected or developed. Development pressure in the future will focus on smaller parcels, the re-use of existing structures, and development in areas not considered before (who among us would have thought 30 years ago that developing the areas behind existing homes on Main Street was a viable option?).
The future will lie in the details, preserving streetscapes and vistas, as well as ensuring that such inevitable changes as will occur in the village