Bristol draws up new no-extraction zone map

BRISTOL — The Bristol Planning Commission looks poised to move ahead with a proposed town plan at its meeting next Tuesday when it considers a compromise on the proposed gravel mining prohibition zone.
Since fall, commissioners have struggled to agree on a chief component of the proposed plan: a zone that prohibits resource extraction in and around Bristol’s downtown area. At the planners’ last meeting on Jan. 17, four versions of the no-extraction zone were discussed.
Acting Chair Chico Martin then charged planners John Elder and Kris Perlee with the task of ironing out a single no-extraction zone that represents a unified vision.
This past Monday, Elder and Perlee presented a draft map of the new zone and accompanying language to their fellow commissioners for consideration at their meeting on Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. at Holley Hall.
As currently proposed, the new zone would prohibit extraction of gravel, sand and other natural resources across a larger swath of land than was previously proposed at a September public hearing and was previously proposed by Perlee in October.
The most notable expansion from Perlee’s proposed zone is the inclusion of a controversial property owned by Bristol resident Jim Lathrop, which has long been the subject of litigation regarding its use as a gravel pit. While Lathrop wants to mine his property for gravel, many townspeople oppose the notion, saying it would pollute the downtown.
Elder and Perlee’s proposition also includes noteworthy additions to the version of the no-extraction zone proposed at the September public hearing. Elder and Perlee’s version would extend the no-extraction zone to the northwest end of downtown, which includes a portion of the Kountry Trailer Park, the mixed zone where Bristol Works is located and several rural agriculture zones. The newly proposed zone also includes new areas, such as town-owned property between Stoney Hill Road and Lovers Lane, the Rockydale area and a piece of land to the south of the New Haven River and east of the Lathrop property.
The zone is now referred to as the “Village Planning Area,” and the accompanying language that Elder and Perlee have proposed for the town plan reads: “Given this entire plan’s emphasis on protecting the downtown, as well as the importance of providing for Bristol’s long-term residential needs, extraction will not be allowed in the Village Planning Area.”
This map and language is no more than a proposition at this point. Next, the planning commission must agree to these alterations, the selectboard must then approve the town plan in its entirety and, finally, voters must approve the plan.
“We both enthusiastically endorse every aspect of the resulting documents and maps,” wrote Elder in an e-mail about his and Perlee’s work. “It’s important to state that at this point they reflect only our own thinking. But our hope is that they may lead to a broad consensus both in the planning commission and in Bristol and that the result will be to liberate and energize the conversation about our town’s future.”
The map and new language are available in the Bristol town offices and online at www.bristolvt.org/documents-and-forms.
Reporter Andrew Stein is at [email protected]

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