BRATTLEBORO—With comments addressing issues of zoning changes and economic development issues, members of the public had their chance at Monday’s Planning Commission meeting to comment on the town plan in progress — “an entirely new plan” that will replace the town’s 2008 document, according to a Planning Commission report.
The Town Plan serves as a guide to boards and commissions, like the Selectboard or Development Review Board, when reviewing development proposals on the proposed 2012 town plan.
Brattleboro’s current town plan expires in February 2013, and state statute requires towns to update their plans every five years.
This 2012 plan also “identifies current conditions and gathers public input as a resource for future public spending on community facilities, roads, utilities, parks, housing assistance, economic development, and other municipal programs and services,” wrote the commission in its report.
“Data and information related to the town, its residents, housing, and economy have been updated reflecting current data from the 2010 U.S. Census and State agencies,” the report continued.
One of the state’s overall planning goals that the town plan must be congruent with is establishing a coordinated, comprehensive planning process and policy framework to guide decisions by municipalities, regional planning commissions, and state agencies.
Public comment from approximately 10 people who attended an Aug. 27 meeting predominately focused on the merits of Planned Unit Overlay Districts (PUDs), promoting density (non-sprawl) development, preserving the town’s rural areas, and creating economic opportunity.
Spoon Agave described his impression of the draft as looking like the 2008 Town Plan. He suggested that the commission include an analysis in the current plan to look at which portions proved effective or not.
Agave said that, in general, the goals sounded vague, unmeasurable, and not prioritized.
Agave said the plan needed to provide guidance and a “plan that will give us an actual strategy and an understanding where to go.”
The town charter requires the Selectboard to report at the end of the year on what progress the board had made regarding the town plan’s goals, he added.
Commission Chair James Valente said specific suggestions will be taken up at the commission’s September meeting. But, he said, if the plan were a general five-year plan for action, Agave would be correct about the goals section.
However, said Valente, more specific action steps “usurps” the Selectboard’s domain. Instead, the plan must guide the Planning Commission on land use.
Speaking for himself, Valente said he was “loathe to set an agenda beyond land use” in the Town Plan.
Agave felt that asking for specifics was not usurping the Selectboard’s authority.
“This is our town, not the Selectboard’s town,” he said. “It’s not up to the Selectboard to tell us what type of town we ought to have.”
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