There was a disturbing amount of us versus them talk at the Waitsfield Select Board’s most recent meeting.

On November 11, during a discussion of proposed zoning amendments, aimed at making it easier to build smaller, less expensive housing in the town’s agricultural/residential zone, the board chair himself suggested that clustering smaller more affordable houses would spoil the character of the town.

Another board member said that clustered housing – in addition to providing desperately needed housing for young people and young families – would preserve open land.

“Yeah, and create a slum area where you park all those homes in,” the chair responded.

Other board members suggested that there is more to the proposed regulations than meets the eye, and the newest board member was honest and humble enough to say that she had only just begun to learn about what the regulations could permit and acknowledged that she had a lot to learn.

For almost a year, the town planning commission has been researching, developing and drafting these new land use regulations that could allow 16.2 small dwelling units (under 1,000 square feet) to be clustered on 6 acres if 50 percent of the land is left open. That’s the maximum that could be built assuming water, wastewater and other infrastructure challenges were met.

To suggest that this would create slums that would change the character of the area is fairly outrageous and disrespectful of the professional and volunteer planning commission hours that got these proposed regulations this far. Not to mention what it suggests about people who may need workforce housing.

To suggest, as was done later, that while it was nice that Fayston and Warren were “being supportive, but not having made any adjustments to their own zoning to address the issue” is ignorant, short-sighted and a whole lot of us versus them. To further suggest that Waitsfield try to incorporate into its new regs some requirement that the other towns follow suit is absurd given the unique geology, topography and settlement patterns of each town.