Town Plan petition receives overwhelming response

Jean Burks (left) delivers petitions to Colleen Haag, Shelburne Town Clerk last week.

Jean Burks (left) delivers petitions to Colleen Haag, Shelburne Town Clerk last week.

Jean Burks, a member of the Executive Board of the Shelburne Citizens for Responsible Growth (SCRG) and former Shelburne Selectboard member, announced that the recent petition to put the “Town Back in the Town Plan” was signed by well over the required five percent of the registered voters in just one week. The petition requests that Shelburne’s Town Plan and its amendments be approved or vetoed by Australian ballot (standard voting).

The petition was brought to the Selectboard, and the Board has agreed to include it on the ballot at Shelburne Town Meeting on Tuesday, March 4.

“Again, this is a vote to vote,” states Burks. “The ballot will ask townspeople to decide whether the Shelburne Town Plan and its amendments should be voted on by the citizens. At this time, it is not a vote for or against the proposed changes to the current Town Plan.”

The petition required 5 percent of the registered voters, or 250 signatures. Instead almost 7 percent, or 347 qualified signatures, were collected.

When weighing this issue, some community members have brought up concerns that the citizens might never be in agreement on the Plan. Another concern may be the perception that organized groups would have undue influence over the Town Plan. One such resident is Jeffrey Hodgson. “If we constantly second-guess and attempt to undermine the recommendations of the volunteers that serve on our boards and commissions, who will be willing to volunteer in the future?” said Hodgson in a recent letter-to-the-editor. Currently, the Selectboard votes on the Town Plan and its amendments.

The Town Plan comes up for review every five years. By statute, the Planning Commission is required to review the Plan, invite testimony, research issues, and propose changes. The Selectboard then reviews, amends, and approves the final version.

SCRG points out that questions, such as the ones surrounding the CVU turf fields and the paving of Pond Road, are brought before the citizens. “The people who live in Shelburne are very invested in the Town and what the future will look like,” says Burks.

For more information about SCRG, visit www.scrgvt.org.

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