After further discussion with the Waitsfield Select Board, the town planning commission is moving forward with zoning changes that permit duplexes and accessory dwelling units in the village residential district, the agricultural/residential district and allow duplexes in the adaptive overlay district as well as ag-soil amendments.
Those changes will be the subject of a public hearing before the select board on September 28 at 6:30 p.m. The select board extended the deadline for action on those zoning changes at an August 24 hearing.
That action split the question of duplexes and accessory dwelling units from another proposal that would have allowed increased density hamlet developments in the agricultural-residential district. Work on that program will continue as will the planning commission’s work with the town conservation commission on how the town complies with Act 171 and making that work with the Town Plan.
Act 17 was enacted in 2016 to promote strategies to maintain intact forests in Vermont. It requires municipalities and regional planning commissions to identify areas that are important as forest blocks and habitat connectors and to plan for development in these areas to minimize forest fragmentation.
In collaboration with the Agency of Natural Resources and the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission, the Vermont Natural Resources Commission helped to develop an Act 171 planning guide that gives town guidance on how to maintain forest blocks and wildlife connectivity areas. Jamey Fidel from VNRC met with planning commissioners and conservation commissioners on September 1 to discuss the intersection of the Waitsfield Town Plan with Act 171.
The planning commission has been working on updates to the Energy Chapter of the Waitsfield Town Plan (Chapter 9) for the past year with assistance from the CVRPC. To enact the updates that have been drafted, the Enhanced Energy Planning process requires re-adoption of the Town Plan and not just amendment. The planning commission was informed that in order to proceed with re-adoption of the Town Plan, compliance with Act 171 will be required. The commission began an initial analysis of Act 171 and potential updates and in conversations with the Mad River Valley Planning District was directed to Fidel. Fidel offered his assistance to complete an initial Act 171 compliance analysis of the current Waitsfield Town Plan.