Created on Wednesday, 15 August 2007 20:00
Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 August 2007 19:53
By Lisa Loomis
After over three years of work
and public hearings and rewrites, the Waitsfield Select Board adopted
new subdivision regulations three weeks ago.
A group of town residents has challenged that move and petitioned for a
town-wide vote on the regulations. That vote will take place October
23. By state statute, once a select board votes to give itself the
power to adopt zoning regulations and amendments, the power remains
with the board except when citizens petition for a town-wide vote.
BOARD WAS DIVIDED
Because the select board itself was divided on the subdivision
regulations, the board had discussed whether they should be brought to
voters by the select board but opted to see if a petition was
forthcoming. Had the board switched to having voters adopt the
regulations (rather than at the select board level), that power would
have remained with voters after this particular vote was held.
The division amongst board members over the subdivision regulations has
to do with a provision which references the need to consider road
connectivity when permitting subdivisions.
Board member Paul Hartshorn voted against adopting the regulations
(while three other board members who were present on July 23 voted in
favor of adopting them). He argued against the road connectivity issue,
saying it allowed the town to ëblackmailí town residents who want to
subdivide their land.
Hartshorn recently went through the legal appeal process over a
subdivision where the town required connectivity between his proposed
subdivision and an adjoining development. His appeal was put on hold
through an agreement with the court and the town while he pursued a
different subdivision with no residential development slated for the
lot which adjoins the neighboring subdivision.
The section of the ordinance to which Hartshorn objected reads as follows:
Roads shall, to the extent feasible, be designed and laid out to:
(a) avoid adverse impacts to natural, historic, cultural and scenic resources;
(b) be consistent with existing road patterns in village and other
settlement areas; (c) maximize connectivity within the subdivision and
to adjoining parcels and road networks;
(d) follow existing linear features, such as utility corridors, tree lines, hedgerows and fence lines,
(e) avoid fragmentation of farmland and other natural and cultural features identified in Section 3.3.
The regulations had been pending before the board since February and
had then not been approved and would have expired on July 26, and the
old regulations would have gone back into effect. New subdivision
applications would have been heard under the old regulations.
The new regulations are the result of three yearís worth of work on the
part of the planning commission and the select board. They have been
vetted by a group of local land use attorneys who went through the
regulations in great detail and provided comment as well as
participating in the review and revision process.