Master Plan

Dover's Master Plan Introduction

A Master Plan is a comprehensive plan which guides the long-term physical development for a community. Each plan should be reviewed every 10—20 years. Dover began a recent cycle updating the Master Plan in 2012.

If you have questions about the review process, please contact Dave Carpenter in the Planning Department.

The following are brief descriptions of completed sections of Dover's Master Plan update. You may download .pdf of the chapters using the free Adobe Acrobat reader to view them. Additionally, you can view the 2015 Update on Recommendations - Executive Summary.


The Stewardship of Resources chapter, currently under development, will bring together a range of resources and issues that were identified during the development of the Vision Chapter as critical components of what helps to make Dover a unique place. Specifically, the Stewardship of Resources chapter will address the following topics: energy, natural resources, historic and cultural resources, coastal management, natural hazards and social capital.

The Stewardship of Resources Steering Committee is seeking input from the community. As part of the outreach plan, a survey has been prepared to allow citizens, business leaders, and other stakeholders in the community a chance to provide input. The survey can be accessed here or at the link below.

Stewardship of Resources Master Plan Chapter survey

Vision – 2012

This chapter of the City’s master plan captures that long term view and will serve as the foundation on which all of the remaining chapters of the master plan are built. The entire master plan is used to shape city and community policy decisions and is particularly useful in defining land use regulations and long-term capital budgeting priorities.

Land Use Analysis - 2015

Dover's heritage and character is important to its residents. This is a community that looks forward, with a mind for understanding the impacts past development has had. This is a community which strives to be first. It understands the Yankee ideal of conservation of resources, land and otherwise. The community’s Master Plan transforms that ideal and the community’s visions into a roadmap for a future; a future that looks towards the next 400 years. Land Use is an important component of that future, and this chapter is designed to provide recommendations about Dover’s future land uses and land use decisions that will be made over the next decade.

Recreation – 2009

Recreation is an integral component of a healthy, sustainable community and should receive commensurate investment. In Dover, it is believed that Recreation issues are complex and require high attention, wise decisions, sensible implementation, and collaboration among different city departments. The goals established in this document here are similar to those in the past (2000).  The mission of Recreation in Dover may not change much with each Master Plan update, but the ways in which Dover accomplishes those goals may.

Natural and Historical Resources  - 2000

Dover’s natural resources are a critical consideration in establishing a proper approach for land management. Understanding natural resource values provides a rational basis for determining which areas of the City are more appropriate for protection and open space and which areas are more suitable for development. Natural resources such as slope, soils, and vegetation, wildlife, and water resources add to Dover’s character, provide recreational opportunities and contribute to the quality of life for Dover residents. These natural resources also provide both opportunities and constraints for growth. Steep slopes and wetlands, for example, are less suitable for development, while better drained, flatter areas are more suitable. On the other hand, these well-drained areas may be associated with groundwater areas that require protection. Thus, the natural resource base of Dover provides an important factor as the basis for local land use decisions. The following is a description and analysis of Dover’s natural resource base.

Community Facilities and Utilities - 2009

The City of Dover and its employees are recognized as providing a high level of effective services. The Dover government is a large, complex organization delivering a wide and diverse range of services to the residents and businesses of the City. City business is conducted by the City Council managing about half of the budget and the School Board managing the rest with only bottom line funding approval by the Council. By definition it is a bureaucracy and, like most other bureaucracies, our City government and its activities has evolved over time to meet the new demands placed on it by growth. Sometimes that growth has been slow and steady and sometimes it has been very rapid such as we are currently facing as we enter the new millennium. In either case, attention has sometimes been focused on meeting the new needs rather than finding ways to deliver existing services in the most efficient way. The City and School budgets have been developed separately without first setting limits for combined growth and identifying areas of mutual need and possible joint efforts to hold costs down. This has resulted in adding new people, facilities, equipment, and activities at ever-increasing costs. Efforts at last minute budget cutting to hold cost down have sometimes been misdirected to things such as deferring necessary maintenance or new programs, which eventually resulted in higher costs. Dover needs to change that approach to managing its business.

Open Space and Conservation- 2012

Dover has a long history of placing a priority on environmental protection and management. Open Space and Recreation Plans were developed in 1973, 1978, 1988 and the 1988 City-wide Master Plan contained a detailed chapter on the open space and recreation needs of Dover. This chapter serves as an update to the 1988 Master Plan and integrates the information and recommendations contained in previous plans with the most recent needs that have been identified in Dover.

Transportation - 2015

This chapter of the City of Dover Master Plan is being updated. A draft of the revised chapter was presented to the Planning Board for review on Tuesday, July 26, 2016. The draft version of this chapter can be accessed here:

Transportation Chapter revision, August 2016 Draft

Goals for this chapter include reviewing opportunities for traffic calming, expanding the City’s Complete Street network and reviewing opportunities for mass transit in Dover. At the workshop the consulting team will have three areas for residents to give feedback and ask questions about. Each area will have maps and graphics, which can be used to generate conversation about the topic. Those three areas are:

  •          Traffic Congestion/Crash Locations
  •          Transit/Bike/Pedestrian Connectivity
  •          Neighborhoods/Traffic Calming/ Land Use Patterns

Transportation - 2000

This chapter of the City of Dover Master Plan is intended to set policies and goals while providing a comprehensive vision for transportation. Dover will invest in, maintain and properly manage or regulate a coordinated, safe, efficient, and effective transportation system that promotes the long-term goals of its citizens and businesses expressed in this Master Plan. The City acknowledges this system to consist of public and private infrastructure such as roads, bridges, sidewalks, parking facilities, trails and transit centers as well as services such as transit, taxis, and traveler information resources. This system will enhance the quality of life for residents and the quality of experience for visitors and tourists while preserving the character and strategic advantages of the City for current and future generations.

Recommendation Summaries

Annually, the Department of Planning and Community Development reviews progress made on Master Plan recommendations and produces a report updating the community on that progress.

Previous Chapters

Dover has been reviewing and producing comprehensive or master plans since 1963. Below is a sample of previous plans.


Throughout the Master Planning Process, public participation is a key element. Below is a sample of presentations related to the Master Plan that have been created over the years.


Throughout the Master Planning Process, conveying information visually is important to educating the public and steering committee. Below is a sample of maps related to the Master Plan that have been created over the years.