The City of Newport, RI covers a geographic area of approximately 11.5 square miles with a relatively small permanent population and robust tourism, around 3.5 million visitors annually.

Matrix Design Group community planners updated the City of Newport’s Comprehensive Plan with an eye to addressing potential sea level rise, diversifying the economy, addressing a population decline and changing demographics, preserving the community, and addressing aging infrastructure and public education. The State of Rhode Island has implemented a system of planning that closely ties State, regional, and local policies and goals together in order to create a comprehensive, long-range program. The system has been in place since 1988, and helps avoid or mitigate conflicting actions, helps citizens prioritize funding, and generally enhances the population’s ability to accomplish common objectives. The multi-faceted update to the Comprehensive Plan was intended to guide the City through the ensuing twenty years, managing land use and housing, maintaining a healthy and vibrant community, and addressing sustainable systems and stewardship of resources.

Public outreach was a factor in the planning process, including three public workshops and a community forum, as well as stakeholder interviews and meetings with City Council and various Newport committees and planning boards. The City also made use of a project website, eBlasts, media outreach, and “Engage Newport,” a development of Newport’s professional public engagement provider, Worldways.

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