Group Proposes ‘A Better Town Plan’

A group of concerned residents has drafted an alternative town plan for the Selectboard to consider in addition to the Planning Commission Town Plan (“PCTP”) presently under review. The group calls its plan "A Better Town Plan" (“BTP”) and the redlined draft is available here.  In a listserv post (registration required) on January 29, the group listed eight issues the BTP wants to address. [See below] 

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As formatted, it is not an easy read, but the additions to the text [green and red] might catch your eye. The BTP emphasizes sticking to “existing development patterns” and limiting mixed uses [commercial and residential] to the immediate Village [with home business allowed]. A recurring theme is that large scale development should be “consistent with the size, scale and number of units in existing developments the largest of which is 24 units”. The PCTP is mostly silent on these points. See BTP at 8-10. The PCTP looks for growth at a “moderate” pace and scale. the BTP envisions growth at a "slow pace and small scale". BTP at 29.

The goal of the group is to have residents vote on the plan.  “When and if it comes time to vote I would like the Selectboard to offer [the BTP] as an option for voters to select in lieu of the [PCTP].  Alternatively I’d like to see all the changes in A Better Town Plan incorporated in the PC’s plan.” said Stuart Richards in an email, noting that he was but one member of the group.

The BTP was submitted to the Selectboard on January 24. The Board has yet to comment on it but met only once since the submission, with a limited agenda. The Selectboard next meets on February 14.
The listserv post (registration required) said in part: 

A partial list of concerns of many citizens with regard to the Planning Commission's Plan are the following:
1.  Increased Taxes
2.  Enabling commercial development outside the central business district
3.  Enabling municipal sewage either by hook-up to an adjacent municipal system or by a town municipal system 
4.  Allowing an unlimited amount of development in Norwich without caps as to the the size, scale and number of units for any development in a single year
5.  Village Center designation without Act 250 review
6.  Changing the rural historic character of Norwich to a more suburban character
7.  New high density zoning districts in addition to one postponed on Route 5 South
8.  There are in addition, a number of factual errors that have hopefully been corrected.
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