Department of Planning and Development (DPD) Overview
The Department of Planning and Development (DPD) is committed to preserving the assets of yesterday, finding solutions to the challenges of today, and planning for the City of tomorrow. DPD staff work to build community, housing, jobs and a quality of life that makes Lowell an enjoyable place to live, a satisfying place to work, an exciting place to visit, and a profitable place to invest. More simply, DPD’s goal for Lowell is to create, preserve, and enhance a great place to live, work, and play.
DPD has four staff teams that help carry out its goals and provide services to the public:
In 2013 the DPD completed an update to Lowell’s Comprehensive Master Plan, a policy statement that establishes long-term goals and provides a shared vision aimed at the unified and coordinated development of the City. The long-range policies within the plan serve as a framework for future development, outline specific goals for the City over the next 20 years, and guide the decision-making of the Department. The new plan places a greater emphasis on environmental economic and social sustainability.
In addition to the Master Plan, DPD’s planners develop and work to implement Urban Renewal Plans, Neighborhood Plans, Economic Development Plans, and Downtown Plans. In all of these endeavors, DPD works to engage stakeholders from the public, private, and institutional sectors, including residents, business people, community leaders, and visitors.
DPD is also actively engaged in helping both the City and the community implement and take actions in accordance with these plans toward the underlying objective of making Lowell a better place. DPD takes advantage of State and Federal programs to help stimulate development, including the administration of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME, ESG and HOPWA programs, which are annual entitlements funded by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The Department uses resources from these and other grant programs to implant capital improvements to parks, traffic infrastructure, and amenities within the City. DPD also provides services to residents and businesses aimed at expanding employment opportunities, tax base, and the quality and quantity of housing available in Lowell.
In 2011, the Department of Planning and Development absorbed the code enforcement and inspectional services functions formerly housed in the Inspectional Services, Health, and Public Works Departments to create the Division of Development Services. Development Services now operates a cohesive one-stop permit and code enforcement office that furthers the objectives of the City, the DPD, and the Master Plan through review and regulation of development. The Development Services office provides a clearer path of access for both proponents of major economic development projects and for residents interested in construction activity in their neighborhoods.
DPD’s Development Services Office also works to protect public safety and health through enforcement, permitting, and inspections associated with the state building code, plumbing code, electrical code, sanitary code, and related local ordinances, while also responding to complaints of public nuisances and potential code violations. DPD is also responsible for conducting testing and inspections to confirm the accuracy of devices used throughout the City for measuring and weighing goods in commerce.