Grafton sets Nov. 10 for Town Plan hearing

GRAFTON — The Grafton Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Grafton Elementary School to discuss revisions to the Town Plan that now include a goal to enable a village center designation from the state.

Specific changes include a village center designation that “will support the efforts to revitalize the existing historic village center of Grafton” and link with the statewide goals of planning development to “maintain the historic settlement pattern of compact village and urban centers separated by rural countryside.”

Other revisions submitted for approval will include Chapter 10, a flood resiliency plan that complies with current town plan upgrades in the wake of damage statewide from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.

Grafton was particularly hard hit, with the loss of several homes, and the town was cut off for four days before access was partially restored.

With a deep historical note on Grafton's Tropical Storm Irene damages, the “benefits of incorporating green infrastructure/low impact development for storm water management and flood resiliency” are explored, as well as examining “fluvial erosion hazard” planning along riparian buffer zones within a river's corridor.

The Saxtons River's headwaters originate on the border between Windham and Grafton. Land use decision making in flood-prone areas includes goals, policies, and recommendations to further mitigate damages in these areas.

Chapter 10 sets as a goal the formation of policies that support “maintaining the ecological and hydrological integrity of rivers, streams, and wetlands to provide key ecosystem services such as water purification, pollutant abatement, nutrient dispersal, and cycling and flood water retention.”

It states that “rivers, streams, and wetlands should also be protected to allow for continued recreational use and to provide valuable scenic resources; developments or activities that would adversely affect the quality of the town's surface waters shall be discouraged,” and that “new development shall be avoided in identified flood hazard, fluvial erosion hazard, and river corridor protection areas.”

Along with those environmental policies, one of the recommendations may have a bearing on siting of the Iberdrola wind turbines, if adopted: “Forested lands should be protected to assure that precipitation can be absorbed by forest soils and litter and the peak flow attenuated. Acquisition of land or easements or Current Use assessment should be used to protect these areas, especially along the tributaries.”

The site of the proposed wind turbines is on a privately owned tract of forested land that covers the top of a ridge that is also the source of three major waterways: the Williams River, the Saxtons River, and the West River.

In addition, Chapter 7, an affordable housing plan, has been added and revised. It includes extensive demographics research and charts.

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