More than nine years after Tisbury officials and residents first began discussing their visions for the town’s future, the planning board this week unanimously adopted a master plan to guide development decisions.

The plan, approved Monday, makes several recommendations, including changing the Tisbury town government structure, overhauling the town’s zoning, fostering business along the waterfront and increasing housing options. 

Board chair Ben Robinson said under state law, every town planning board is required to have a master plan, a document designed to outline a clear path for the town’s future. The new 360-page plan covers seven areas of municipal concern: governance, ecological stewardship, the human-made environment, commercial districts, safe circulation, housing and community health.

Planning board member Ben Robinson talks to the crowd about the plan at Katharine Cornell Theatre. — Ray Ewing

Hingham-based Barrett Planning Group worked with an advisory committee of Tisbury residents and businesspeople, appointed by the planning board, to draft the master plan based on a town-wide vision plan completed in early 2015.

“People in your community put a lot of thought into what this document says and why it says it,” company founder Judi Barrett said at Monday’s meeting.

Each section of the master plan contains both near- and long-term recommendations and strategies for action, beginning with changes in town government that will give more decision-making power to the top executive. 

  “If you want your town departments to be able to do the things they need to do, you need to get them the authority to get it done,” Ms. Barrett said.

The master plan recommends that Tisbury begin by formally changing its leadership structure from a town administrator to a town manager, a process that will require a home rule petition to the state legislature.

While both positions report to a select board, Massachusetts law gives town managers more day-to-day authority than administrators, Ms. Barrett said.

Consultant Judi Barrett walks through the plan she worked to develop with the town. — Ray Ewing

Town meeting voters will have to approve the town manager’s job description before petitioning the legislature, she said.

The select board recently appointed a three-member task force to study current town administrator John (Jay) Grande’s position, after Mr. Grande said he intends to retire next March after 12 years on the job.

Monday’s planning board meeting went nearly two hours before a crowd of 30 people in Katharine Cornell Theatre, with another 20 or so attending online.

Though the planning board approved the plan, most of the recommendations would need voter input before enactment.

Barrett Planning Group is still working under a separate contract for the town to develop planning recommendations for Tisbury’s business districts.

The full Tisbury master plan and a 27-page executive summary are posted at