After two years spent making revisions, Moretown Planning Commission formally presented the new Town Plan to Moretown Select Board at their meeting on Monday, February 9.
The select board set the date for the public hearing to adopt the new Town Plan for Monday, April 20, at 7 p.m. In the meantime, the plan is available on Moretown's website at moretownvt.org/laws-and-ordinances/zoning-regs/.
Before updating the 2012 Town Plan, the planning commission spent two years gathering public input through a 2013 townwide survey and a series of community workshops. That input is reflected in the new plan's vision, which states: "It is our vision that Moretown will grow to become a more inclusive and connected community whose different areas identify as a cohesive whole."
Also included in the new plan's vision is the growth of "more small-scale, clean and homegrown businesses" and the growth of the town's access to "quality schools, recreation opportunities, full broadband service, and transportation alternatives."
With regard to economic development, "Responses to the 2013 survey suggest that many residents would like more businesses in Moretown," the new plan states. "Some believe that this would reduce property taxes for homeowners. Others want more choices for dining or shopping in town. When asked how well the town is doing on a variety of factors, the three elements that survey respondents ranked lowest were all related to the local economy – overall business climate, availability of goods and services in town and job opportunities in town."
The Moretown Town Plan had not been updated since the closure of Moretown Landfill Inc. (MLI), which stopped accepting trash in the summer of 2013 and in doing so greatly reduced its tipping fees to the town. The new plan includes a section on solid waste facilities that states briefly the history of the Route 2 business and well as residents' opinions on its future.
According to the new plan, "68 percent of respondents to the 2013 community survey thought that the town should support MLI if the company applied for a permit for Cell 4 and 14 percent thought the town should not support MLI," the solid waste section reads. "However, 52 percent of respondents who lived in the vicinity of the landfill did not support the continued operation of the landfill, and they accounted for half of all respondents who did not think the town should support MLI. Those who supported the landfill most often cited the economic benefits for the town and concerns over high taxes without the landfill. Those who did not support the landfill focused primarily on how the landfill negatively affects quality of life and property values in the surrounding area."
Moving forward, the language in the solid waste section as it pertains to Moretown Landfill will be subject to revision by the town's attorney. While the Moretown Town Plan describes the forces that have shaped the town's history, it also examines the forces that have potential to change the community in the future and establishes goals and policies for guiding and managing change in a manner consistent with the town's shared values and community aspirations.
The Town Plan is also an important reference for local and state officials when making decisions affecting the community. In particular, it establishes a framework within which Act 250, Public Service Board and other state as well as local permitting will take place.