New Haven to hear about new town plan on Tuesday

NEW HAVEN — The public is invited to give their input on a draft update of the New Haven Town Plan at a selectboard hearing this Tuesday, Oct. 25, at 7 p.m. at the New Haven Town Hall.
Selectboard Chair Kathy Barrett said the update includes a lot of new content on siting energy projects.
“We’ve added a couple sections because they were not in the town plan at all but they’re required by state statute,” Barrett said.
Zoning regulations in Vermont towns are based on town plans. The New Haven Town Plan expired seven months ago.
The selectboard has worked on the town plan update since the planning commission handed off its version to the board this past summer.
By state statute, Tuesday’s hearing — the first hosted by the selectboard — must be on the final draft of the town plan as submitted to the selectboard by the planning commission. That draft can be found on the town website at newhaven.org.
Barrett said residents’ input would be important to the selectboard’s ongoing revision process.
After Tuesday’s hearing, she said that the selectboard would plan another workday on the town plan. Once the selectboard completes its draft, the board will hold another public hearing. This step will almost certainly be required, said Barrett, because the selectboard’s changes to the draft received from the planning commission are expected to be substantial.
From there the selectboard’s final version of the plan goes back to the planning commission, which votes to approve it or send it back to the drawing board. If the planning commission votes yes, the plan goes to the voters.
Both the selectboard and the planning commission are hoping to have a final draft in time for a vote on Town Meeting Day 2017, Barrett said.
“We’ve got to get moving fairly quickly, and we understand that,” Barrett said.
The New Haven town plan expired March 1, 2016. Vermont town plans expire every five years. The planning commission held a public hearing on the revised town plan in early June and handed on their revised draft to the selectboard in mid July. A final draft would likely need to be complete by mid-January in order to be warned in time for a vote on Town Meeting Day, which will be on Feb. 7, 2017.
Asked about the status of the 2011 town plan, Barrett said, “We have no town plan until the voters vote on a new one. That’s by state statute. Five years from Town Meeting Day 2011 it expired. Period.”
Barrett said that this is an especially important and challenging time for towns working on town plans because of almost daily changes to rules and regulations as state officials work out the nitty gritting to bring the Renewable Energy Siting bill signed into law last June into effect.
Reporter Gaen Murphree is reached at [email protected].

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