I’d like to publicly thank Jaime Heins and Mike Ashooh for organizing the Economic Development Forum on Sept. 24 and offer a special thanks to all of the panelists who provided their time, perspectives and honest feedback. As chair of the planning commission, one of my biggest takeaways from the event was a fair bit of frustration around town zoning regulations.
Shelburne’s regulations, as with other municipalities, are the result of years of debate, various economic conditions, and inputs from multiple stakeholders including different board/commission compositions. As such, there will always be a need to revisit zoning regulations. Given legislative compliance requirements, regulatory change can take time but it’s absolutely possible and that’s how we evolve to meet new needs – something we should all encourage. It’s notable that four of the five current members of the planning commission were in attendance (one was out of town), along with the zoning director and even a candidate for an open seat. Discussion at the Sept. 26 planning commission meeting further underscored a sincere interest in better understanding and addressing concerns.
Recognizing it can be inconvenient, the most effective way to raise an issue to effect change in regulations is to come to a planning commission meeting and share your thoughts. Time is allocated at the beginning of each meeting to hear from the public regarding non-agenda items. Insights we’ve received through this mechanism have often resulted in changes to zoning regulations that reduce if not eliminate the issue while balancing greater needs and mitigating negative impacts.
The challenge for any town is to have a set of regulations that supports growth and operation without being so loose as to unintentionally facilitate detrimental impacts to the town as a whole.
What may be seen as overly restrictive or not restrictive enough to some might be in place to retain and/or improve the qualities that drew and continues to draw people to live/work/play in Shelburne. Through its local resident volunteer members, the planning commission strives to find the right balance and encourages the community to engage with us toward that end.
The planning commission spent the bulk of 2018 working on updating the Town Plan, which was adopted this past February and includes many recommended actions to better facilitate future change. Receiving public input helps us to balance priorities as we set our meeting agendas. We welcome you to come to any of our meetings (generally the second and fourth Thursdays of each month) and share your thoughts.
I hope this process will result in more open discussions within the community along with increased interaction with the various boards, commissions and committees in town. This can lead to more efficient and effective regulations that the community can be proud of as we navigate a host of environmental, economic and social issues moving forward.
To a more collaborative future.
Chair, Shelburne Planning Commission