Town pushes pause button on Plan

July 28, 2011

By Adam White
Observer staff

The Williston Selectboard agreed to push back its approval vote on the 2011 Comprehensive Plan on Monday, due to low attendance at its regular meeting and insufficient time to review some final revisions.

Ten townspeople were present to voice their opinions at what was slated to be the final public hearing on the Plan, but Board chairman Terry Macaig said that required warning time under state regulations was not given in regard to changes made by the Planning Commission.

Macaig said that additional language within the Plan — particularly pertaining to the Circumferential Highway Project, Chittenden Solid Waste District landfill project and connection between the two — would require discussion in another public forum prior to the Board’s approval of the document.

That could occur at the Board’s next regularly scheduled meeting on Aug. 15.

“There are major changes … that needed to come back to us for a look, and for the townspeople to look at and consider as well,” Macaig said.

The fact that there were only three Board members present at Monday’s meeting also played into the decision, according to Macaig.

“You’d like to have as many Selectboard members there as possible, for their diverse opinions, to review the final document and take action on it,” Macaig said.

Diverse opinions were in no short supply at the meeting, as Williston residents took the floor to address a wide range of topics — several of which are not included in the proposed Town Plan. Joseph Myers asked the Board about a study being conducted on traffic patterns near the intersection of North Williston and Mountain View roads, and whether a roundabout was still being considered there.

“It is only being studied to the extent of determining whether it needs to be changed,” Town Manager Rick McGuire said. “There will be a series of public meetings on this issue later.”

Carol Burbank of Pamela Ct. asked the Board to consider supporting an assisted living facility in town, saying that a number of Williston’s senior citizens “have had to move away” during the latter part of their lives.

“I think this is something we seriously need to consider,” Burbank said. “I hope it is something you will … think about.”

Local developer Jeff Atwood spoke next, saying he was “discouraged and disappointed” that a master plan for Williston’s village center was called for in the previous Town Plan in 2006 but has yet to be completed. Atwood also said that affordable housing was prioritized in the last Town Plan, but hadn’t been sufficiently addressed, in his mind, in the five years since.

“I guess we’re just going to stay status quo,” Atwood said.

Tim Beauvais of Old Stage Rd. questioned setback discrepancies in different zoning districts in town, saying that a 15-foot setback hindered a renovation project at his family’s home. Beauvais asked why the setback — originally 10 feet — was changed, requesting “a realignment to something that made sense before.” Fellow resident Sue Powers also questioned why some areas of town are held to different zoning standards than others.

Town planner Ken Belliveau responded by saying that the bylaw changes could have been “an oversight, an error or something deliberate.”

McGuire then brought focus back to the Town Plan. “This document really does need to get adopted before we can address changes in the bylaws,” he said.