Sewer service area expansion proposal again threatens town character

For the third time in twelve years, there is another petition by O’Brien Brothers before the Planning Commission to extend the sewer service area into a rural zoned district to create high density development (80-120 units between Irish Hill and Thomas Roads) in direct conflict with the town plan and current zoning regulations. This is one of several proposals the Planning Commission is considering to allow individuals in the rural area to “hook up” simply because they are abutting the existing sewer line that was established to concentrate growth in the residential area.  If this is permitted, the Sewer Service Area (SSA) boundary is abandoned and development will creep outwards into the agricultural districts and the character of our Town will be lost forever. Where does this end?

The Planning Commission is also discussing dropping the “developable area” clause in our ordinance. This rule controls the development density of parcels of land that have existing wetlands and other sensitive natural resources and protects the character of existing neighborhoods. Properties are valued by their potential for development and removing this clause gives an owner an undeserved financial bonus and is unfair to bordering owners.

Why are these policy changes even being considered and how do they benefit the residents of Shelburne? These are issues that affect the character of development in Shelburne and therefore all of us.

For this reason we are reactivating the Shelburne Citizens for Responsible Growth (SCRG) which, in 2000-2002 was able to positively participate in the community’s legislative process which defined an SSA to direct development into the residential rather than rural areas of the community. The town plan and specific zoning regulations that define the SSA has served Shelburne well for the last ten years. It should not be ignored by our current elected officials for no reason other than to facilitate a single developer’s request.

The Planning Commission and Selectboard need to hear the voices of concerned citizens. Please consider joining this effort at an SCRG meeting on Monday, May 6 at All Souls Interfaith Gathering (Bostwick Road, first right after Wake Robin) at 7:30 pm.

On Thursday May 9, the Planning Commission will be discussing the merits of changing the zoning regulations and sewer service area to accommodate the O’Brien petition and will vote at the Thursday, May 23 meeting whether to recommend these changes to the Selectboard (7 pm town offices).  Please consider attending these meetings.

Jean Burks, Shelburne

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