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Bristol commission back at work on zoning

BRISTOL — “Big cups for a big success!” said Bristol Planning Commission chair Chico Martin, doling out red solo cups of sparkling cider to the planning commissioners, town office staff and newspaper reporter gathered in Holley Hall last Tuesday.
It was the planning commission’s first meeting since the updated Bristol Town Plan, the product of eight years of the effort, passed with 68.7 percent of the vote on Election Day.
“I noticed walking down here tonight it felt very different,” Martin said after thanking the commissioners, past and present for their years of hard work. “(There was a) sense of relief to be going on with work without the pressure of getting the town plan approved. This is all the fun part.”
With the passage of the plan, which stalled several times over zoning and resource extraction disagreements, the commissioners can now turn their attention toward implementation.
On Tuesday, the commission went through Bristol’s zoning ordinances line by line to bring them into accordance with the new town plan. The commission has organized its discussions to first go through the Rural/Agricultural zones, then the Rural Conservation area, and finally the zones in the village. Public hearings will be scheduled for each of the zoning areas.
Facilitated by Adam Lougee, director of the Addison County Regional Planning Commission, Tuesday’s meeting was a productive one. The commission moved smoothly through discussions on Rural Agricultural zones 1 and 2.
Although public comment on the commission’s Sept. 18 deliberations on RA-5 was on the agenda, no members of the public were in attendance to discuss it.
The commission adjourned following a discussion on Rural Commercial Zone 1 and Commercial Zone 1, areas east of Route 116, which highlighted a few remaining differences in opinion among the planners.
Lougee, noting that those two areas were “really interspersed” with “less concrete goals that (planners) can agree on,” tasked each member of the commission with identifying differences and similarities of the two zones, and drafting objectives and goals that the commission could discuss and hopefully compromise on at the next meeting on Dec. 18.
“Let’s see if one of you can come up with a unifying vision that fits within the context of your plan,” Lougee said. He added that he anticipated that the commercial areas outside the village would be the hardest for planners, who themselves represent a range of interests from the town, to come to a consensus on.
The celebratory mood from the start of the meeting seemed to last through the three hours of lengthly and detailed deliberation.
“The downtown corridor should be easier,” Lougee said as the meeting adjourned.
“Nothing’s easy for us,” rejoined planner Kris Perlee, drawing a laugh from everyone at the table.

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