BRISTOL — After five months of heavy editing, the Bristol Planning Commission has released a new draft of the town plan for the first time since it took a public poll on Town Meeting Day about gravel extraction, which found town sentiment solidly against language in the commission’s February 9 draft.
“The biggest single change of substance is the fact that we now prevent gravel extraction in the larger “Core” area of the downtown district, which now includes the Lathrop property … The Core area has been expanded. It’s larger than it was in the earlier plan,” said Chairman Tom Wells over the phone from Haiti, where he’s working on a project for the Wells Mountain Foundation.
The newly defined ‘Core’ area is essentially all of the zones contained within and adjacent to Main Street up until the conservation zone.
“The plan, the way it is written now, does permit extraction in the conservation zone. I think it’s fine the way it is. I think there’s very little gravel in the area. But it’s going to continue to be a focused point of contention,” said Wells, who was one of three planners swayed by a Town Meeting Day poll that found that 58 percent of voters opposed extraction in this zone.
What appears unclear in the draft and the map of the potential zoning districts, however, is whether part of the Lathrop property currently proposed for excavation might extend into that conservation zone.
Some other details that need to be included in the plan, or zoning regulations, have yet to be ironed out. For example, the draft of the plan states, “The area in which extraction will be prohibited is shown on Appendix G of this plan, which includes all of several existing zoning districts in addition to adjoining land now part of other districts.”
But there is no Appendix G contained within the current draft to clearly show residents where extraction is prohibited.
The plan has also been reformatted. With assistance from New York-based planning consultant Brandy Saxton, the new 68-page draft is almost half the size of the former 120-page version. But Wells warns that page numbers may be deceiving.
“It’s not actually shorter, it just appears shorter because it’s been reformatted in different type,” he said. “There’s been a lot of editorial cleanup, so it reads better, it’s more understandable and it’s clearer on a number of issues. We feel good about the document.”
An electronic version of the town plan is available at the top of the Bristol website (www.bristolvt.net) under the headline “Town Plan 2011.” Wells said that the draft would be circulated widely and that a public hearing on the new document is slated for September.
The planning commission’s meeting this week will be held at 7 p.m., Tuesday, in Howden Hall, and residents, as always, are encouraged to attend.
Andrew Stein is at email@example.com.