Shelburne Citizens for Responsible Growth petitions for vote to put “Town” back in Town Plan

Jean Burks, a member of the Executive Board of the Shelburne Citizens for Responsible Growth (SCRG) and former Shelburne Selectboard member, announced a meeting to be held on Monday, Jan. 6, from 7-8 pm at the Shelburne Town Hall. The organization has drafted a petition to put the Shelburne Town Plan, and any amendments to the Shelburne Town Plan, on future ballots.

The Town Plan is the document that the Selectboard, Planning Commission, Development Review Board, and other committees refer to when making decisions for the Town. The Plan is comprehensive and covers such topics as land use, transportation, energy, growth, and development.

The ultimate goal is for the people of Shelburne to vote by Australian ballot for or against the Plan – just as we currently vote for or against bonds, the school budget, and major capital expenditures.

“Essentially, the petition is ‘voting to vote’,” stated Burks. “Signing the petition merely means you would like the Town of Shelburne to put the following question on a special ballot:

“Shall the Town of Shelburne adopt and amend the Town Plan by Australian ballot, pursuant to Title 24 Vermont Statutes Annotated, Section 4385(c), such procedure to take effect immediately upon passage?

“Signing the petition is not an indication of whether you would vote for or against the issue,” she continued, “just that the issue merits a vote.”

The Jan. 6 meeting will provide information about the proposed democratic process, versus the current Town Plan process whereby the five-member Selectboard decides the contents of the Plan. State law allows the town’s voters to change the process so that all the registered voters, rather than just the Selectboard, will adopt the Town Plan and any amendments every five years. This procedure is not unusual and has been adopted in Charlotte, Bristol, and other neighboring communities.

The Town’s Selectboard members change regularly, and so the vision of the Selectboard are constantly in flux. Over the years, some Boards have been more in accord with the vision for the Town than others. SCRG recommends putting the Town Plan, and proposed amendments, on the ballot to ensure that the vision for the Town is directed by the townspeople and removes the possibility of the vision being materially changed by a potentially incongruous Selectboard.

SCRG’s petition will be available to sign at the Jan. 6 meeting and at additional venues around town. Petitions will also be available online at www.scrgvt.org and by contacting one of the SCRG committee members at info@scrgvt.org. Petitions may only be signed by registered voters. SCRG is attempting to complete the petition process by mid-January. Petitions must be originals and may not be electronically signed or emailed.

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