Mad River Valley residents will get a chance to see how the Waitsfield Planning Commission is working to create vibrant villages in Waitsfield and Irasville next week when the planning commission hosts a community meeting to take feedback on its work on modernizing town zoning bylaws.
The March 29 meeting takes place in the Village Meeting House at the Waitsfield United Church of Christ on March 29 from 5 to 7 p.m. The meeting will feature large storyboards placed throughout the meeting room. Each board will discuss some aspect of how the current zoning hinders housing (and other development).
Members of the planning commission along with consultants from the SE Group will be on hand to discuss content and answer questions from those who attend. Participants will be able to put stickers on the storyboards to show whether they agree or disagree. There will be opportunities to weigh-in on issues ranging from housing to retail to pedestrian access, parking and more.
Participants will be asked to rate their level of agreement with statements such as:
-I wish there were more customer-facing businesses in Irasville, such as restaurants and stores.
-Irasville should be a focus area for creating more residences in Waitsfield.
-Waitsfield Village should be focus area for creating more residences in Waitsfield.
-Adding more residences in Waitsfield Village would help support the creation of new businesses as well.
Additionally, people will be asked to weigh-in on land use strategies for Irasville and Waitsfield villages, including lot size, building height, multi-family units and more.
People from all Valley towns are welcome to weigh-in.
The planning commission has been working with the SE Group since December on the first major overhaul of the town’s zoning ordinances in many years. The Vibrant Villages initiatives include several projects intended to promote lively neighborhood centers in Waitsfield.
These projects include the current bylaw modernization initiative, efforts to secure a Neighborhood Development Area designation for Irasville Village, and future master planning efforts for Irasville. These efforts all build on recent work to secure water and wastewater infrastructure for the Irasville area
The work has been focused on identifying obstacles to a lively, walkable commercial district in Irasville and how town zoning might be changed to improve that. The SE Group, Burlington, has conducted an assessment of existing land use policies, a housing analysis, infrastructure information and the town’s historic and current settlement patterns.
Among the findings has been the fact that Irasville is disconnected and includes a lot of paved space dedicated to parking. The layout of Irasville, the consultants noted, is a piecemeal, low-density, 20th-century strip mall development – as opposed to a traditional village center grid. Additionally, Irasville is disconnected and lacks pedestrian connections.
While Waitsfield Village residential and commercial centers feature two-, three- and some four-story buildings, Irasville is primarily two-story buildings. Lot sizes vary throughout the two districts as well. More of the SE Group’s findings will be available at next week’s meeting.