Brookhaven Comprehensive Plan
& Hamlet Studies
The Town of Brookhaven on Long Island includes 500,000 people and a land mass larger than the State of Rhode Island. While serving as Brookhaven’s Commissioner of Planning, Land Management, and Environmental Protection, David W. Woods, PhD, FAICP, initiated the Town’s first comprehensive planning in 40 years. Working with a staff of 90 professionals, a consultant team, the Town’s Planning Board and elected officials, and countless interested members of the public, David launched a complex, two-year process that produced a Comprehensive Plan that was visionary, inclusive, and ready for implementation.
The first challenge in this two-year process was to recruit a representative Citizen Advisory Committee and a widely respected Chair. David’s first step was to recruit as Chair a well-known environmentalist and long-term community leader with a huge social network that included involved citizens from all parts of the Town who were working on many diverse causes. She, in turn, called on her network to propose Committee Members from all of the Town’s Villages, hamlets, and unincorporated areas who knew about and cared about different aspects of the Town’s history and current situation, who had good ideas for various elements of the new Comprehensive Plan, and who themselves had wide social networks.
The Chair of the Citizen Advisory Committee worked closely with elected officials and the Town Planning Board on a Steering Committee, who guided the planning process going forward. Following extensive analysis of existing plans, David’s team developed some preliminary ideas, and then worked with the Steering Committee and the Citizen Advisory Committee to plan and do outreach for a Kickoff Meeting, followed by a series of public workshops in each Town Council District, and booths at several Town-wide Events where we could meet other members of the public. Hundreds of citizens and other stakeholders participated at one or more of these meetings and events.
Based on this extensive information about the Town’s history, planning laws, and public values and visions for the future, David’s team drafted a new Comprehensive Plan, and then revised it with a focus on implementation. Among its other benefits, this Comprehensive Planning process was educational for the Town’s planning staff, its Planning Board, its elected and appointed officials, and countless members of the public, who met their neighbors and gained a sense that they can be part of shaping their community’s
Brian X. Foley, Town Supervisor
Town of Brookhaven, NY