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October 26, 2006
By Erin Post
Officials agree that forming a development review board (DRB) makes sense for Fayston.
The question now is how to make the switch with the least amount of disruption.
The Fayston Select Board pondered ideas at their meeting October 23 along with Chuck Martel, chair of the Fayston Planning Commission, and planning commissioner Geoff Slater.
A newly formed DRB may have to begin processing new applicants at the same time the planning commission wraps up applications already in progress, Martel said, in order to make a smooth transition.
"I guess we'll just have to see what is in the pipeline at the time," Martel said.
Select board member Ed Read suggested another idea: the formation of an interim board---potentially made up of three planning commissioners and three members of the zoning board of adjustment (ZBA)---to handle applications at the time of the changeover.
This board could be in place just long enough to complete applications "that have already started," he said.
For the past few weeks, Fayston officials have mulled over disbanding their zoning board of adjustment in favor of a development review board.
A new DRB would be responsible both for the zoning enforcement issues the ZBA now handles as well as for subdivision application review, a task now handled by the planning commission.
Handing these duties over to one board would both streamline the process for applicants and free the planning commission to focus on revising the town plan, officials have said.
How many people would serve on a new DRB remains to be seen, although the select board has indicated they would prefer less than the maximum of nine members allowed by the state.
Currently, nine residents serve on the planning commission and five comprise the ZBA.
Officials said they have been talking informally to current members of both boards to see who would be interested in serving on either a new DRB or on a planning commission with a different focus.
The results seem to be skewed in the direction of development review, said Slater.
"Many of the people [on the planning commission], maybe most, don't want to do planning," he said. "If the development review goes away, they probably would too."
Select board member Jared Cadwell said many current ZBA members are also enthusiastic about doing development review.
Forming additional committees as a resource for the planning commission may also be an option, officials said.
Cadwell suggested a conservation committee, both as an information source for the planning commission and as a way to get more residents involved in town affairs.
Martel agreed that providing the means for interested citizens to have a say in town would be positive.
"I think it would be nice to have some new blood," he said.
According to the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, the creation of a DRB requires a motion from the select board supported by a majority of its members. No public hearings are necessary.
The select board is tasked with deciding how many members the DRB will have, their terms of office, and the appointees.