Advisory Committee seeks to delay town meeting vote on zoning changes

by susan on July 31, 2012

The Board of Selectmen tonight will meet with the Planning Board to discuss a wide-reaching proposal to update the town’s zoning code. They’ll also hear a request from the Advisory Committee to delay a town meeting vote on the changes.

The Planning Board has been holding public hearings this summer in advance of what they hope will be a Special Town Meeting this fall to vote on a total overhaul of the zoning code. But from the start, residents and members of other committees have expressed concern about the review process.

The biggest complaint has centered on the lack of a “red-line” document that compares the existing code with the proposed new code. Without such a document, residents are left to compare on their own the old code to the more than 100 pages of new code in order to figure out what the proposed changes are. Several residents told the Planning Board that is not acceptable.

“For anyone to make an intelligent determination, they need to see the changes compared to the current,” ex-Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Sam Stivers said at a public hearing in June. “To expect every citizen to go through and sort that out is pretty unreasonable.”

The Advisory Committee agreed, and in a recent letter to the Board of Selectmen said they voted unanimously on July 9 to request that selectmen not schedule a Special Town Meeting until four months after the Planning Board supplies a document that compares the old and new zoning bylaw. They also said they want a build-out analysis comparing the old and the new bylaws.

“The Advisory Committee believes that these two documents are essential to review the proposed bylaw changes,” the letter said.

If selectmen agree, that would push a Special Town Meeting out until at least December.

We’ll find out tonight what selectmen think. The agenda item is scheduled for 8:00 pm. The meeting takes place in the Town House Hearing Room and is open to the public. You can also catch the broadcast live on public access Verizon channel 37 or Charter channel 12.

{ 2 comments }

1 M August 1, 2012 at 12:20 PM

Can someone tell me how much it costs the Town to hold a “Special Town Meeting”? Why is that necessary instead of considering all this at regular Town Meeting?

2 Al Hamilton August 1, 2012 at 2:54 PM

M

It is on the order of $5,000 to $10,000.

The majority of the ATM is devoted to the budget and other money matters. It is not unusual for these to take 2 nights to resolve. I think there is a desire not to put members through a 3rd night in a week.

Big items like Zoning are likely to be contentious and because it effects all of us should be actively debated before amendment, passage or defeat. It will probably take an hour our 2 to resolve perhaps more.

Many towns hold 2 meetings a year one for the budget (ATM) and one for legislative matters such as by laws or borrowing.

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