By Carol Casey
Efforts to revitalize the Route 7 corridor north of the village took a step forward on Oct. 2. A dozen people representing business owners in the corridor, members of town commissions, the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, the Chittenden County Transportation Authority, and others attended the first of a series of steering committee meetings which will lead to the development of a proposal for a form-based code and illustrative master plan for the stretch of Route 7 north of Webster Road to the town line.
The Director of Planning & Zoning, Dean Pierce, defined the goals as advancing the recommendations expressed in “A Vision for 7,” developed in 2011. He quoted another report: “Whatever direction [zoning] takes, it should ultimately be simple, graphic, objective, easy to use and understand, and produce buildings that add to the greater beauty of Shelburne.”
Pierce noted that the Selectboard had set goals for the project that include:
- Identifying and overcoming obstacles to redeveloping vacant, outmoded, and sometimes non-conforming existing properties;
- Challenging negative perceptions among property owners and developers; and
- Bringing about a thriving commercial mixed use area with a recognizable Shelburne identity that the Town wanted to achieve in this section.
Pierce introduced two consultants on the project. Jim Donovan, a landscape architect and certified planner with Broadreach Planning & Design, will serve as the project manager. Ted Brovitz previously served as the director of Planning & Development for Brattleboro and is currently with the firm Howard/Stein-Hudson. Consultants will look at existing land use patterns in the corridor, identifying which properties conform with the current zoning code and, later, with the proposed zoning code. They will have one-on-one meetings with property owners in the corridor and hold a three-day design charrette open to those same property owners and the public. The group will engage in a visual preference survey and look at measures to make the area more pedestrian-friendly and establish paths to points of interest. Consultants will then produce conceptual drawings illustrating redevelopment and reuse scenarios, infill development, and streetscape and landscape improvements. A regulating plan will set forth building, lot, and street design standards. During this process, they will build upon past studies.
Both a Steering Committee and a Working Group will be established. Any Shelburne resident or property owner in the corridor is welcome to participate in either group as well as in the public charrette design meetings. The Steering Committee will focus on the “big picture,” discussing concepts and ideas; the Working Group will be responsible for implementing those concepts and designs. Once a form-based code is adopted, the consultants will also be involved in outreach and education efforts to explain the code and providing training on how to use it.
Property owner Michael Lash asked the group not to impose “a metropolitan solution on a rural area” and cautioned against making changes “just because you have the money to do it.” (This process is largely funded by a grant.) Planning Commission member Dick Elkins suggested that stormwater remediation measures be built into the new code. Another audience member recommended keeping transit issues in mind, while another urged the group to consider connections northward into South Burlington for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
Pierce and the consultants would welcome participation on the Steering Committee or Working Group. Interested residents or business owners should contact Dean Pierce at firstname.lastname@example.org or 985-5118.
The Steering Committee will meet at 7 pm in the Town Center Thursday, Nov.14, in conjunction with a Planning Commission meeting