Route 7 future addressed by Selectboard via three separate discussions

Selectboard Meeting July 24

by Margo Callaghan

Between review of two rewritten sections of the Town Plan, a decision to vote on funding for study of Form Based Zoning, and a major repaving of Shelburne Road slated for this month, Route 7 figured largely into discussions by the Selectboard at their July 24 meeting.

Traditional Euclidean Zoning segregates property into specified geographic districts and stipulates limitations on development activity within each type of district.

Form Based Zoning or form-based code (FBC) regulates property development to achieve a specific physical form with a lesser focus on land use, through city or county regulations. One of its goals is to encourage compact, walkable urbanism.

Paving

A representative from F.W. Whitcomb was present at the meeting to discuss the Route 7 paving project slated to begin in South Burlington in early August. The discussion entered into by the Board weighed the pros and cons of authorizing the Village  portion of the paving project to take place at night. While recognizing that it will pose an inconvenience to residents whose properties abut Route 7,  the Board granted approval for the night paving after calculating that the majority of the work will be completed within a 10 day timeframe.

Zoning

The Town’s Planning Commission members were present at the Selectboard meeting for the discussion of form based codes (FBC). The switch from existing Euclidian zoning code employed by the Townwas first discussed as part of the SDAT project’s recommendations for the future for Route 7. The SDAT Steering Committee and Planning Commission have had extensive conversation on the process of the change. The next step requires a RFP be sent out to hire a consultant to work with town management to develop the vision and basis for form based zoning regulations. Board member Gary von Stange stated his concern, “Form based code costs two to four times as much as traditional Euclidean based zoning.” Planning Commission member Kate Lalley replied, “Euclidean based zoning is responsible for the the mess we have today,” citing the landscape of the Route 7 Corridor north of the village. She suggested that the Board should consider any excess cost in moving to a FBC model be viewed as an investment in Shelburne’s design future., stating “Route 7 has tremendous possiblitiy,” citing the quality and quantity of tourism destinations in town and their ability to draw people to the area. Planning Chair Brian Precourt stated, “Let’s do the RFP so we have accurate number for the end product we are looking for… I think it will be a hybrid [code]” by which he referred to the need for a “parallel” code for districts north of the Village along Route 7.  It was agreed that the consultant would need to supply the town with a cost estimate to go forward with such an overhaul of existing zoning regulations. Timing was discussed in hopes of being able to take advantage of grant monies from Chittenden County Regional Planning, and their ECOS project.

The Selectboard voted unanimously to approve the motion that would allow a ballot item come before voters in November to authorize funding.

Town Plan

The Board reviewed proposed updates to the Town Plan from the Planning Commission which included revisions to the plan’s Vision Statement. The changes were well received, with the Board offering kudos to the Commssion for their work, giving permission to move forward on further updates.

Social Services Committee

Again, the Selectboard grappled with determining how best to organize and fund the town’s Social Services committee. Recent resignations have left Chair Fred Koch as the sole member of the group whose community role and source of funding came under the Board’s scrutiny following last March’s Town Meeting.  Board member Al Gobeille reiterated his concern that the dispersement of funds by the committee was not clearly linked to the social services used by residents., offering an example by stating, “We gave money to Recycle North, but none to the Shelburne Food Shelf.” He furthered the point, saying the Board needed to come up with guiding principles for the committee, in order to assure that help was being offered to the people in the town who needed it most. Von Stange felt the committee could be charged with the task of fundraising in order to have a larger budget, to which audience member Anne Dutton suggested that might be asking too much of the committee members. Chair Bill Smith closed the discussions by stating that the Board would contact Koch to involve him in the discussion of the Social Services committee’s role going forward.

 

 

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