Updated Vision Statement

An Economic Vision for Bow
Bow Development Commission
October 17, 2007

Background


On September 24, the Bow Development Commission hosted an open forum with the community's residents and businesses to discuss its current and future activities. The forum was attended by approximately 50 individuals, and others have submitted comments since. It was then the subject of further public discussion at a second forum on October 17. The following is a summary of all of the direction and input received to date.
  1. Economic Development Goals
  2. Visioning Exercise

Goals for a Bow Economic Development Program


There should be multiple sub-goals, but the over-arching goal should be to strengthen the Town of Bow as a community through economic development. To that end, the Bow Development Commission should:
  • Continue to evaluate the need and opportunity for additional water and/or sewer infrastructure in the Route 3-A Corridor
  • Explore opportunities both to assist existing businesses in Bow and to attract others from away who may be interested in re-locating or expanding to our community
  • Seek and work with businesses that will provide a variety of economic opportunity, from unskilled, to semi-skilled, to highly skilled, to professional and managerial levels
  • Seek new businesses that will round out the mix of existing retail and other establishments, so that citizens could conduct more of their business in town, rather than having to travel to other communities for even basic needs (grocery, hardware, medical, banking, etc.)
  • Work to build a stronger non-residential tax base, so as to stabilize the existing tax rate as much as possible
There was recognition that, with limited resources available, there will be a need not only to keep all of these goals in mind, but also to prioritize the activities that will be necessary to achieve them.

Approach


In undertaking activities to achieve these goals, the strong directive from the community was that the Bow Development Commission should be proactive. It should be responsive to the needs and interests of existing businesses, to those of potential new businesses, and to those of the citizens at large. Finally, it should be responsible, acting in ways that balance the achievement of the goals above while still retaining the character and natural resources of the community as they exist today.

To the extent that lines of communication could be improved between the community's existing businesses and other elements of Town Government, the Bow Development Commission was urged to be an agent or catalyst to see those lines improved.

Finally, there was recognition among those assembled that in order to do all of these with a volunteer board, there will need to be additional resources provided in the form of staff and other support services.

Strategies/Actions


There were a wide variety of potential actions suggested for the Bow Development Commission. With limited staff, time, and resources, these will necessarily need to be prioritized. For discussion purposes, they have been grouped under three separate headings:

Administrative Actions


The Northeastern/CURP identified a number of project review processes where Bow appeared to lag behind other communities. These should be investigated, evaluated, and corrected where practical and prudent.

There was a sense among those gathered that some elements of the Town's regulatory framework (zoning, sub-division, etc.) are unduly restrictive, and that these could be revised without unduly compromising the underlying goals of those regulations: to provide a healthy, safe community that retains Bow's rural environment.

Communications


There is a strong sense among some of the existing businesses that Bow is not a business-friendly community in which to work. Correcting this, whether it is perception or reality, is the key to any business development program, whether it is focused on existing or new businesses.

Improvement Suggestions
Suggestions as to how to improve this included:
  • A business visitation program
  • Developing a marketing program, but only after developing stronger working relations between the Town and local businesses
  • Establishing a community TV channel to cover local meetings
  • The establishment of a list of land that is currently available for development
  • An improved website, with answers to Frequently Asked Question posted
  • Meetings with private landowners concerning potential development and/or re-development of their lands
  • A review of local ordinances and regulations
Expressed Concerns
Significant concerns were expressed by some present that, among developers, business owners, and others, there is a concern regarding the consistency of local regulatory boards. Rightly or wrongly, there is a perception that small projects frequently are reviewed with considerable rigor, while larger ones are perceived to avoid this strict level of review.

Recognition of Challenges & Agreement
It was recognized that sometimes projects which appear similar at first glance may have certain elements that warrant different levels of review.

It was further recognized that different boards have different responsibilities, and may approach seemingly similar projects from a different perspective with a different outcome. However, there was agreement that all should be trying to serve the best interests of the community and its citizens as a whole.

All Boards Meeting Suggestion


It was suggested that it might be useful to hold an annual "All Boards Meeting", perhaps in April and led by the Town Moderator or some other independent party. The likely attendees would (at a minimum) be:
  • Board of Selectmen
  • Conservation Commission
  • Development Commission
  • Planning Board
  • Zoning Board
The purpose of the meeting would be for each group to lay out its major goals for the coming year, and to discuss any issues that are outside of its immediate jurisdiction, but which have an impact on its operations and which it would ask other boards to be sensitive to.

The outcome of such a session could be as simple as information sharing, or it could be as complex as two boards establishing a task force to work together on a particular issue of mutual concern.

Infrastructure


There was a strong sense among those present that the Selectmen and the Development Commission should continue to evaluate the potential that water and sewer lines could provide for increased business opportunities in the Route 3-A Corridor, but that the utilities extension should be discussed as separate issues and not automatically linked one with the other.

There was a further sense that there should be no long-term capital commitments made by the Town until there had been further public discussion about the potential risks and rewards of such an investment.

There was a recognition that the aquifer that lies beneath the Route 3-A corridor is a rare resource, and that the Town should continue to pursue a withdrawal permit for up to 1 million gallons per day so as to control the use of that resource.

Other Elements


Some suggested that the Development Commission should represent the community during any Federal Energy Regulatory Commission re-licensing procedures regarding the Eversource power plant. Upon reflection, it was agreed that the Development Commission should be aware of some of the impacts that actions in this area could have on sensitive lands, but actually working to protect them would be better left to another group.

Also, that the Commission should be evaluating the possibility of creating a Tax Increment Financing District along the Route 3-A corridor.

Other Concerns


As the Development Commission becomes involved in the details of undertaking these many tasks, it needs to keep reminding itself of the overarching goal of strengthening Bow as a community.

It needs to reflect on the rural nature and good environmental quality present in the community, and be alert to activity that would add undue traffic, noise, and risk to the natural environment.