Planning Commission holds public hearing on Town Plan

Nearly two dozen residents came to Hinesburg’s Town Hall to give feedback on the proposed local Town Plan.

The Nov. 9 meeting kicked off as town Director of Planning and Zoning Alex Weinhagen gave a brief history of the Town Plan. Calling it a “visionary” document, he noted it provides a road map, outlining the community’s past, present, and future.

Weinhagen pointed out to those attending the meeting that the last time residents provided feedback to town officials on a town plan was 2005.  Three years ago, minor updates championed by the Selectboard were implemented and the board then endorsed a major overhaul of the document, Weinhagen said.

Once the Plan is handed over to the Selectboard, additional opportunities for community input on the draft are slated to take place, Weinhagen added.

Weinhagen gave meeting attendees a timeline on how the overhaul began about 2 ½ years ago.  After a series of community surveys and meetings and draft submissions from various town committees, the Planning Commission began to edit the draft, identifying the Top 10 Action items discussed in the Plan.

Under Vermont statute, Planning Commissions write Town Plans, while Selectboards adopt them.

As the meeting wore on, Weinhagen noted the main difference between the current draft plan and the one now implemented.  The last Plan addressed growth in the Village, while the proposed Plan focuses on the quick pace of Hinesburg’s growth, the way the community will grow the Shoreline, Rural Residential 1 Zoning District, and storm-water control and physical infrastructure limitations.

Town Plans’ chapters generally address growth, land use, infrastructure, and parks and recreation.

Following Weinhagen’s comments, Planning Commission member Joe Iadanza opened the meeting for public comment.

The comments from meeting attendees generally praised the Planning Commission and other town subcommittees for their work and dedication while sculpting the draft document. Other remarks from meeting attendees concerned the Vermont Gas Pipeline and the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission’s role regarding the Town Plan.

Laura Carlsmith stepped forward, noting the Town Plan contains important information and is a “great reference tool.”

Nancy Baker echoed Carlsmith’s comments, noting she supports some of the document’s goals, design standards and the adding of language that pressure for rapid development won’t overtake some residents’ desires to for more measured growth.

Jamie Carroll asked if the CCRPC reviewed the Plan and whether an attorney had reviewed the document. Answering his first question, Weinhagen noted that approval from the regional Planning Commission opens the door for the town to qualify for an array of grants. Weinhagen also pointed out the town has no current plans to seek attorney review of the draft Plan.
Jerrilyn Miller stepped forward, expressing concern regarding the Vermont Gas pipeline and the project’s proximity to Town wells. If a pipeline leak occurred, the wells could be negatively affected, she said.

The meeting closed after over 40 minutes of discussion. No additional Plan revisions were mentioned at the meeting’s close.