July 13 - that is the day by which the Selectboard must adopt “a” Town Plan. If not, then the proposed plan becomes “null and [void], meaning the adoption process starts over again [at the Planning Commission level],” according to advice received from the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission (TRORC)*. The letter from TRORC is in the May 9, 2018 Selectboard packet.
The deadline is likely to be discussed at the Selectboard meeting on May 23.
Several letters to the Selectboard encourage adoption of the proposed plan “as is” to avoid a complete restart. The statute, however, allows the Selectboard to make “substantial changes” to the proposed plan. 24 V.S.A. § 4385(b). There are notice and public hearing requirements to make such changes, but that can be easily accomplished by July 13, with diligence. No need to panic.
Earlier this year, the Selectboard discussed putting the Town Plan to a town-wide vote, using the August primary date for the ballot to save money. Although that vote would probably be advisory, an August vote is no longer viable in light of the TRORC letter. There is more than enough time to do an advisory vote on the proposed plan “as is”.
Approval of the plan “as is” does not necessarily make the plan valid under state law or assure acceptance by TRORC, the regional planning commission. The April 20, 2018 report of the Selectboard Subcommittee for the Town Plan found that the statutory requirements for a town plan “are not all met.” That report also found that several concerns previously raised by TRORC were not addressed by the Planning Commission
* TRORC cites 24 V.S.A. § 4385. Subsection (c) requires the plan be adopted “within one year of the date of the final hearing of the planning commission”. That hearing was on July 13, although the plan was not sent to the Selectboard until mid-November.