After years of work, vote scheduled on Bristol plan

BRISTOL — After nearly a decade of work revising and updating the Bristol Town Plan, an effort that has at times been very contentious, the plan is ready to be voted on by Bristol residents.
The Bristol selectboard held its second and final public hearing on the controversial town plan update on Monday at the start of the board’s meeting in Holley Hall. Only two members of the public were in attendance; no objections were voiced. By 7:04 p.m. — within minutes of calling the meeting to order — the board had closed the discussion.
Immediately after the meeting, said Town Administrator Bill Bryant, Town Clerk Therese Kirby sent the town plan, along with 44 changes from past meetings and hearings, to the Secretary of State’s Office in order to meet a deadline for ballot submissions.
The public will vote on the town plan on Election Day, Nov. 6. If the ballot measure passes, the selectboard said it will vote to adopt the plan; if not, it’s back to the drawing board.
But given the low turnout at the required public hearings (two by the planning commission and two by the selectboard), board members expressed hope that the controversial plan had finally reached a stage of completion.
A final version of the plan will soon be available online for the public to view before voting. Bryant advises those who wish to see the tweaks and changes to contact the Town Clerk’s Office; a copy will be provided upon request.
Town plans play a crucial role in how Vermont towns will look and feel in generations to come. A town plan maps a town’s future development and sets the course for future zoning.
Some of the most high-profile push and pull over the town plan in Bristol has been over the subject of sand and gravel extraction and where it would be allowed in town. But the 65-page town plan update covers a lot more than that. It not only includes a long vision for the future of the town, but also sections on population, housing, transportation, utilities, education, energy, recreation, child care, economic development, and human resources, in addition to land use.
It would replace the last official town plan, which was less than 20 pages long.
In other business at their Sept. 10 meeting, selectboard members voted to:
•  Approve the Bristol Community Partnership’s proposed 5K race on Saturday, Oct. 27, pending approval from the police chief.
•  Continue to have the Addison Independent be its newspaper of record.
•  Approve funding for a cement floor in the town’s salt shed for $3,600.
•  Resubmit a request that school officials route school buses away from Pine Street, which has no sidewalks.
Reporter Xian Chiang-Waren can be reached at [email protected].

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