Bristol planning commission eyes Sept. 20 public hearing

BRISTOL — The Bristol Planning Commission moved quickly through the new town draft at its Tuesday meeting where planners came to consensus on language, data and formatting used in sections one through 11.
During the session there was little debate and public comments were few, but the planners decided to aim for a Sept. 20 public hearing to gather input on the new town plan draft.
Chairman Tom Wells mentioned in passing one sentence in the new draft that states the power of the town plan. It reads: “The Planning Commission, Selectboard, and Zoning Board of Adjustments will only approve land use changes and proposed projects that in their judgments conform to the entire Town Plan.” Since the ZBA might become a Development Review Board, the planners are discussing how to address this future change.
If the planning commission, selectboard and ZBA must all “conform to the entire town plan,” then the plan is likely to be the central basis of all major decision making in Bristol.
An introductory clause that planner Bill Sayre, who has worked in the forestry industry for decades, added to the purpose of the plan on Tuesday night reads: “To sustain our tradition of a value-added natural resource-based industry.” The phrase will be found under “B. Purpose” on page 1 of the Introduction section. This addition is important because one of four purposes guiding Bristol’s future will be to sustain these types of industries.
On page 3 of the plan, Wells tweaked the portion on private property restrictions. It now reads: “The town recognizes and appreciates the difficulties and challenges involved in balancing the rights of all individuals within a community. It accepts the premise that individuals may find that some property rights may need to be restricted in order to preserve the rights of others in the community. At the same time, the town continues to place a high value on property rights and intends that restrictions to those rights should be no more than necessary.”
In other news at the meeting:
• Vice-Chairman Chico Martin attended the meeting via conference call from Scotland.
•  Naomi Drummond corrected the planning commission’s information pertaining to the Addison County Transit Resources. She informed them that ridership on the Tri-Town Shuttle — connecting Middlebury, Bristol and Vergennes — was up 68.3 percent and the buses now run hourly.
•  The planners are preparing an exhibit for the public hearing to outline the proposed no-extraction zone in downtown Bristol. It will likely be a large map.
•  At their next meeting, slated for Aug. 9, the planners are hoping to wrap up all edits to the new proposed town plan. All changes to the plan are required by law to be finished one month before the public hearing.
Reporter Andrew Stein is at addisonindependent.com.

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