All roads lead to. . .

November 16, 2006

Planners from one end of The Valley to the other have worked and continue to work hard on the issue of road networks, pedestrian safety and traffic management.

Trying to accommodate people, bikes, cars, delivery trucks and development, not to mention property rights, is a difficult task.

The difficulty of managing that task was very apparent this week when the Waitsfield Select Board heard a request from a landowner who wants to develop property in Fayston using roads from Waitsfield.

During discussion of this subdivision proposal, the question of whether it's appropriate to impact a unique Waitsfield neighborhood for a project in neighboring Fayston came up. The question of whether town lines really mean anything in a community this small and this interconnected also came up.

This request to access land in Fayston via a road through a small neighborhood in Waitsfield is more complex than a NIMBY issue (Not In My Back Yard) and more complex than the simple question of whose ox is getting gored.

From a safety point of view, if homes are going to be built on this land in Fayston it may be quicker to provide emergency services to them from Waitsfield versus taking a longer route via the Center Fayston Road.

But, from a safety point of view, there are dozens of children who ride their bikes on the Waitsfield road and there are three daycare facilities on the road. The proposed subdivision with seven lots will generate (at full build out) 70 car trips per day. That is a significant addition on a road that currently has 16 houses (160 car trips per day) and its adjoining road with its 10 houses (100 car trips per day).

The property owner has a right to develop this subdivision, which is thoughtful and well planned and includes a large tract of conserved land with recreation easements. The existing residents have a right to be safe on their road and to continue to enjoy their property. Balancing those conflicting rights will not be easy.