Selectboard discusses Shelburne Comprehensive Plan

By Heather McKim

Two major issues were addressed at the July 23 meeting of the Shelburne Selectboard. Members (Chair Tim Pudvar absent) focused on the Shelburne Comprehensive Plan and street lights. Before members turned to the issues, Town Manager Paul Bohne announced the Shelburne Police Department won the Vermont Law Enforcement Challenge. Bohne also reported that installation was completed in the Marsett/Falls Road waterline project and work is nearly finished. While waiting for a technical issue to be remedied, members considered the approval of a capital note with the National Bank of Middlebury for $72,000 to finance a Highway Department dump truck. The one-year note was unanimously approved.

Town Planner Dean Pierce gave an overview of the Comprehensive Plan, starting with a bit of history. He explained that land-use planning in Shelburne began in the 1950s. The last major update came in 2007. In 2012, that plan was re-adopted so there would be more time to make revisions. “Towns are not required to plan, but if they do plan, they must plan in compliance with state requirements,” Pierce said. He explained that plan “elements” are set by the state and are not regulatory unless specific and mandatory language is used (i.e. “should” and “must”).

Tuesday night’s presentation was the most recent step in a long process toward updating the Comprehensive Plan. The new version shows many changes from the previous plan, including modification of the vision statement, reference to form-based code and new language to address the JAM Golf decision. There is also more information on housing, economic development, and parking; text has been changed to reflect the updated survey. There was special mention of population growth, which has been due to in-migration and natural increase below zero. This means that Shelburne’s ranks grow through people moving to the town rather than through births. Al Gobeille expressed concern that the plan seemed conflicted over growth. “Perhaps we can’t plan growth, but we can limit growth,” member Gary von Stange said. Pierce pointed to specific language within the draft that addresses land use. He noted, “The policy is motivated by the desire to keep rural parts rural.” Allison Cranmer, who filled in as Chair, said the draft should be reviewed section-by-section, and the Selectboard will address each piece at coming meetings. The hearing will continue at the next meeting on Aug. 27.

Members then addressed matters connected to Champlain Housing Trust. The board voted to approve, amend, and ratify policies regarding equal opportunity, Fair Housing, use of excessive force, use of Vermont Community Development Program (VCDP) funds for lobbying, code of ethics for administration of VCDP, drag free workplace, and sub-recipient oversight. All of these were in support of participation in VCDP. The board accepted the VCDP grant agreement in support of the Harrington Village Project. Members also approved the administrative agreement, naming Colleen Haag as administrator, and appointed Lynnann Prom to the Recreation Committee (term ending 2016).

The final item of the evening addressed street lights. The board considered adopting guidelines to govern the reinstallation of certain street lights where they previously existed. While that was ultimately tabled, other decisions were made regarding how the town would proceed in addressing the often contentious issue. It was decided that a letter and map will go out to residents. While there was extensive debate over how to treat non-responses, members ultimately decided that non-responses would simply be treated as such, rather than automatically be tallied as a “yes.” The letter will be reviewed at the Aug. 27 meeting before it is sent out to residents.

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