At the October 12 Mad River Valley Housing Summit, one focus will be on what the Town Plans in Warren, Waitsfield and Fayston have to say about housing. The housing summit, being put on by the Mad River Valley Planning District takes place at the Lareau Farm Pavilion/American Flatbread from 4:30 to 7 p.m.
Bob Ackland, chair of the Mad River Valley Planning District steering committee, said that there will be very large posters in the pavilion which highlight what each town’s Town Plan states about housing and what each town is currently doing in terms of housing. In addition to Town Plan information from Warren, Waitsfield and Fayston, there will be posters with information about the Mad River Valley Housing Coalition’s accessory dwelling unit program and information from Sugarbush about its efforts to build employee housing.
Ackland said that the planning district has asked each town to have zoning administrators, planning commissioners and select board members present to answer questions about the Town Plans.
IMPORTANCE OF TOWN PLANS
The importance of Town Plans in helping deal with the lack of housing cannot be overestimated, according to Ackland, nor can a town’s zoning which is meant to enact the goals of the Town Plan.
“Town Plans are an approved look at the future and they provide strategies for how to address many different things. Housing is certainly one of those. Within the strategies of Town Plans are tactical plans and goals that the towns have set out for themselves. We’re going to try, at the housing summit, to give people, through these poster summaries, an idea of where we’re standing and what we’re doing,” Ackland said.
Ackland noted that local towns are actively working on housing directly and indirectly. Waitsfield expects to complete a water and wastewater study this fall that will catalogue existing and future wastewater availability which could foster denser infill development, including housing, in Irasville, the village and designated growth areas.
Warren, he said, is involved in an extensive re-write of its land use regulations that includes ways to provide denser housing on residential lots and within certain zoning districts via planning unit developments and other tools.
“These are positive steps for our towns to be taking and we need to take the strategies that are in the Town Plans and look at the goals and take out of the goals the actual things the towns can be doing. We have to ask if we’ve really addressed those goals in our zoning. For example, take the dense areas of Waitsfield Village and Irasville. Maybe building heights should be increased slightly to allow for more mixed-use development so second or even third floors could be condos or apartments above commercial uses on the ground floor. These types of things can begin to make a dent in the housing inventory,” he continued.
Select boards are responsible for making sure a town enacts its Town Plan, he added, noting that select boards need to ensure that a town’s planning commission is creating zoning that supports Town Plan goals.
The October 12 housing summit is free and features child care, appetizers and American Flatbread as well as a cash bar. For planning purposes, people are asked to preregister. Here’s the link: