Residents urged to participate in Route 7 development discussion

Shelburne planning officials invite local residents and property owners to take part in a series of public meetings regarding the development of properties along the Route 7 corridor. The public input gained at the meetings – which takes place Feb. 1, 2, and 3 in Shelburne’s historic Town Hall – will guide consultants hired to write new “Form Based” zoning regulations for consideration by the Selectboard.

According to Planning Commissioner Kate Lalley, Form Based zoning emphasizes regulation of features like building design and appearance. Traditional zoning, in contrast, emphasizes restrictions based on land use and density. Lalley is one of several local residents working in recent years to promote zoning that would enhance the economic vitality of the town.

“The Shelburne Road corridor is in some ways the town’s most visible economic engine. I believe Shelburne’s zoning regulations can be ‘tuned up’ so the engine runs more smoothly and better development results,” says Lalley.

Some of the activities planned as part of the meeting include an opening listening session, forums on development scale and design, and technical presentations. And befitting an event that happens to coincide with Super Bowl weekend, planned activities also include a tailgate party.

According to Planning Director Dean Pierce, “The schedule has been planned with flexibility in mind. We want to allow people interested in the future of the town to participate in brief periods of time, such as in short discussions with the consultants, or over longer stretches.”

In addition to face-to-face activities, an online Visual Preference Survey is being planned. The survey will be used to gauge general preferences for different building types, landscaping features, and streetscapes. The launch of the survey will be announced on the town’s website, through Front Porch Forum, and in local media.

Following the weekend’s events, the project consultants will work with the project Steering Committee to create a draft illustrative plan and draft zoning language. Consultant Jim Donovan notes, “Work on this project is at the beginning stage. The time when people can have the greatest impact is now, before any decisions have been reached.”

Two previous studies of the corridor recommended that the town explore the potential for Form Based zoning. According to Pierce, copies of those studies are available for viewing on the Town’s website. A grant for the current project, informally known as “A Vision for 7,” was obtained from the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission.

For more information the Town of Shelburne has dedicated a web page to the project at www.shelburnevt.org/departments/1265.html or Facebook at www.facebook.com/rte7shelburne.

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