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Town and Village

Newfane seeks public input as it revises its Town Plan

The Planning Commission invites everyone to attend their meetings on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at the Newfane Town Office on Route 30. Contact the commission at NewfanePC@yahoo.com.

NEWFANE—The Planning Commission is in the midst of updating the Town Plan, and a recent community survey — and a grant from the state — are helping commissioners get there.

Planning Commission Chair Lynn Forrest explained the purpose of a town plan: “It sets the direction the residents want to go in.”

In this document, town officials have a set of expressed recommendations to guide them in such areas as land use, public services such as communications and transportation, environmental protection, economic development, and land conservation.

The town plan helps officials create zoning bylaws, if a town has them, Forrest explained. Newfane’s zoning bylaws were revised in 2015.

Because “it will change as our society changes,” she said, the state requires towns to update their town plans every five years.

Forrest gave an example of a topic not extensively covered in Newfane’s current Town Plan: solar energy. Since the last revision, in 2013, more solar arrays have popped up around town. Siting of these arrays is a new consideration that will likely get covered in the updated plan, Forrest said.

Another new entry into Newfane’s Town Plan will cover the recent Village Center Designations.

Official village status

Last year, the Planning Commission worked with the Agency of Commerce and Community Development to grant the villages of Newfane, South Newfane, and Williamsville official village status. This will help those residential and economic centers receive tax credits and grants for upgrades, code improvements, and ADA modifications to historic buildings.

Although the Planning Commission creates the town plan — with the help of a professional firm, such as the Windham Regional Commission — and the Selectboard approves it, the goal is to have the document reflect the will of the people, Forest explained.

In this current round of revisions, Planning Commissioners held a community forum and issued a survey.

More than 50 people attended the forum, which was held in November at the NewBrook Fire Station. “We put tables around the room, and each had information on the 12 chapters of the Town Plan, and a place where people could write their comments on each topic,” Forrest said.

This meeting also gave the commissioners — Forrest, Ken Estey, Bob McCandless, Angela Sanborn, and Mike Young — an opportunity to publicize the community survey, which was open to anyone who lives or works in, or is a regular visitor to, Newfane.

The survey, which ended in mid-January, was a success, Forrest said. 131 people took the survey, but she noted that some surveys represented an entire household.

The commissioners designed the survey to allow respondents to answer questions in their own words. Most of the multiple-choice questions were those asking for demographic data. “Because, otherwise, you limit what you’re going to hear,” Forrest said.

Services, roads, and recycling

Half of the respondents reported living in Newfane, but outside of the designated villages. Almost half are in the 55-64 age group.

When asked what services in Newfane need improving, the top three answers were “services,” “roads,” and, “recycling.”

“Public transportation,” and “speeding” topped the list of the town’s most pressing transportation and traffic problems, according to the survey.

The final question, which was multiple-choice, asked, “When it comes to growth and development, what do you feel are Newfane’s greatest challenges?” It allowed participants to choose up to three answers from a list of 12, and it gave an “other” option. The top three were about protecting the town’s character and scenery and providing adequate job opportunities.

Forrest noted that, as planners, such goals can cause a conflict: How do officials ensure nothing changes in a town’s appearance while also inviting economic opportunity?

There will be more opportunities for the Planning Commissioners to gather more input from townspeople and to get them involved.

“What I hope we can do with the data in the future is create committees for people to work on things they’re passionate about,” such as economic development and transportation, Forrest said. “They can bring possible solutions,” she added.

The current version of the Town Plan is good, Forrest said, but the update “needs more community input.”

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Tamara Stenn
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Tamara Stenn (Brattleboro, Vermont, US) says...

Thanks for writing this Elayne. I was thinking the same thing myself. The silence we received from the hospital is quite deafening. Unfortunately we\'ve had to continue working with the hospital as other (minor) heath issues come up.

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Judith Skillman
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Judith Skillman (Newcastle, US) says...

Excellent and informative writing about the media and about the state of our nation. We must support the press speak truth to power, now more than ever before.

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Ruby Bode
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Ruby Bode (Westminster, Vermont, US) says...

We are also obliged to criticize the press when they merely echo the lies of the powerful. In this case, much of the press has taken a side, not just against the policies of the President, but against the election itself on behalf of the parties of war and Wall St. Just as the US has in the past agitated in other countries for coups against democratic outcomes they don’t like, much of the press, including this editorial, is now agitating for a coup here at home.

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Peter Ford
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Peter Ford (Dallas) says...

Nailed it - Thank you.

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TB Smith
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TB Smith (Ba, Oklahoma, US) says...

The divisiveness brought on by this shamefully poor excuse for a president has been once again, borne out by this article, and the responses to it .. his most devoted followers are the most gullible and easily swayed sheeple since the \"Kool-Aid party in Jonestown\" ... those who stand up the most fervently to this dictator \"wanabe\", will , inthe end, see him and the fellow purveyors of his garbage rhetoric like FOX News, Alex Jones, Breitbart, etc., crumble and be dumped like stale crackers (pardon the pun) .. we must impeach this tyrant before too much damage is done, either from within or outside our borders.

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Ruby Bode
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Ruby Bode (Westminster, Vermont, US) says...

So it’s OK that access to outlets that simply recognize Trump as President is indeed being shut down? But isn’t that exactly what this editorial is against? Should outlets that cheered on Obama’s wars and love of Wall St have likewise been shut down? Only John Birch Society–inspired screeds against Trump indicate the “legitimate” press?

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Ruby Bode
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Ruby Bode (Westminster, Vermont, US) says...

TB Smith’s comment in apparent support of the us-vs-them tone of this editorial illustrates why so many people distrust so much of the press (although, again, it appears to be only pro-Trump and anti-imperialist outlets that are actually being shut down): They are promulgating hysterical claims about fascism, Russians, and “crackers” not in the interest of the people, but wholly on behalf of the neoliberal/neoconservative program of Reagan, Clinton, Bush, and Obama to deny Trump the Presidency and even remove him from office – not democratically, but by coup if necessary. That makes the press rather anti-democratic and, indeed, against the people.

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Amelia Stone
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Amelia Stone (E Dummerston, Vermont, US) says...

Kudos to the Boston Globe for encouraging newspapers across the country to remind us all of the value of a free press, and to the Commons for hearing that call. The NYTimes article, A Free Press Needs You, concludes with the following: \"If you haven’t already, please subscribe to your local papers. Praise them when you think they’ve done a good job and criticize them when you think they could do better. We’re all in this together.\" Today I plan to subscribe.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #445 (Wednesday, February 7, 2018). This story appeared on page B2.

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