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Editorial: Bristol: Closer to consensus

That three dozen Bristol residents turned out to the first public hearing held by the selectboard last week to review the town plan bodes well for the process. That most of the audience gave favorable reviews of the proposed plan, and were interested primarily in tweaking a few words and sentences also bodes well for what may be a long-sought consensus.
To be sure, residents found a few things they hope will be changed.
For the most part, the focus from the citizens was to make things more concrete with a higher degree of clarity and to try to lessen any ambiguity. Several residents suggested changing the weaker words “should” and “would” and “it is anticipated” to more definitive “will” and “shall.”
“Anything we can do to close up ambiguities and make concise language and say what shall and will be done is just going to help us all in the future,” said Russ Rueger. “Anytime you leave something open to interpretation, people will interpret it as they will desire, and it might be against what the town wants.”
And resident Kevin Harper brought up a good point when he singled out goal five of the land use section on page 55 of the proposed plan, which states: “Property owners will be protected from a government taking for the use of the public without fair compensation.”
Calling the statement “purely political” and indefensible, he claimed: “It’s nothing you can stand behind. It’s expensive to put a lawyer on the job… how are you going to put a goal in your town plan that says we will protect you from a government taking. It is ridiculous.”
While that and other good points were made, nonetheless, the 100-plus pages in the document were hailed in the aggregate for the plan’s comprehensive nature and for tackling the land use issues and gravel extraction that have been a source of contention for much of the past decade.
If the adjustments can be worked though to achieve the public’s consensus, it will yield an excellent town document that will serve the town of Bristol well for the next decade or more.
Angelo S. Lynn

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