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Monkton to vote on new planning, zoning rules

MONKTON — Monkton voters will decide the fate of a new unified planning document via Australian ballot at the Monkton Town Hall next Thursday, Feb. 23. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
In the works for more than two years, the proposed zoning bylaws, if adopted, would be the first zoning regulations enacted in Monkton since 1986.
 Detailed in a report by the town planning commission, the primary reasons for the new bylaws are to:
•  Make them jibe with the newest town plan, which was adopted in September 2007. As the report reads, “The proposed revisions amend the current zoning regulations to allow them to reflect and to implement the vision contained in the current Monkton Town Plan.”
•  Match state law surrounding zoning and subdivision regulations.
•  Make them reflect and incorporate Monkton’s Development Review Board (DRB), which was established in the late 1990s.
•  Combine the zoning ordinances and subdivision regulations into a unified document.
•  Update the definitions and standards to be “consistent with recent decisions,” as the report reads.
•  Update the zoning map of the town.
According to this report, the most noteworthy changes to the bylaws are sections that:
•  Adjust the land-use density regulations to establish a village center and encourage compact growth within it.
•  Maintain Monkton’s “rural character” by creating a single Low Density Rural District and a Conservation Prohibited District — which permits agriculture and forest uses, public outdoor recreation and use as a wildlife refuge —  and eliminate an expanded Village District.
•  Establish the use of overlay district to keep certain development regulations consistent with each other.
•  Restricts ridgeline development as stipulated in the town plan. The proposed unified document would restrict all development in the ridgeline overlay district.
•  Reduce the impact on protected resources.
•  Establish a process for Planned Unit Developments, which the planning commission says will reduce costs for developers and help preserve open spaces.
•  Expand “by right” uses that don’t require DRB approval and standardize the town’s conditional uses.
According to Selectman Steve Pilcher, townspeople will vote on this unified planning document before Town Meeting Day, rather than on it, because of a state statute that mandates residents weigh in on this document within a year of the last public hearing held by the planning commission. Although the selectboard has held several public hearings on this document over the 12 months, the last planning commission hearing was on Feb. 24, 2011 — thus the need to hold the vote before Feb. 24, 2012.
The Monkton Unified Planning Document can be viewed online at monktontest.com/upd.pdf and the planning commission’s summary of the bylaw changes can be accessed at addisonindependent.com.
Reporter Andrew Stein is at andrews@addisonindependent.com

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