Editorial: A break-through in Bristol?
In Bristol, town residents spoke clearly in a planning commission poll asking two very direct questions about where mineral extraction should be allowed. The answers confirmed past votes, surveys and public comments that have overwhelmingly opposed gravel pit operation near the village center or in the town’s conservation districts.
In answer to the question, “Should extraction be prohibited in the downtown area (which included the proposed Lathrop gravel pit) as shown,” 275 town residents voted yes, while 121 were opposed — that’s roughly a 70 percent to 30 percent split. And when asked, “Should extraction be permitted in the conservation zone,” residents voted 236 against to 170 for — a 58-42 percent split.
Those are substantial numbers that send a clear signal to town officials that the public does not want gravel extraction, or extraction of any kind, permitted in those areas.
The planning commission is to be commended for conducting a poll written plainly with no political agenda. Previous polls or surveys were criticized by gravel pit supporters as being biased, but in each case the results have borne out similar results. What this poll provides, yet again, is a clear community consensus confirming what common sense long ago suggested: that no thoughtful town plan would purposefully permit gravel extraction so close to the village center.
If past language is vague, then it needs to be corrected, and that’s what the revised town plan and zoning ordinances should do — as well as the significant work on all other fronts that town plan updates encompass.
And if this poll helps town officials and the community reach an understanding that puts this contentious issue to rest (and saves future staff and legal expenses for the town), it will have been one of the highlights of Bristol’s town meeting.
Angelo S. Lynn