OFFICE OF THE SELECTBOARD
Town of Halifax, Vermont
WINDHAM REGIONAL COMMISSION PUBLIC HEARING–DRAFT
February 16, 2016
Windham Regional Commission’s Kim Smith opened the public hearing on Halifax Town Plan approval at 6:01 p.m. in the Town Offices. Selectboard members Lewis Sumner and Doug Grob were present; Brad Rafus was unable to attend. Also present were Stephan Chait, Arthur (Jesse) Ferland, Sirean LaFlamme, Ray Combs, Mitchell Green, and Robbin Gabriel.
Kim Smith described the approval process and read the public notice for the record. This hearing, she explained, is for the purpose of receiving public comment on the plan. WRC received a request on January 11th, 2016, to review the Town Plan for approval. A WRC panel will review the Plan, draft findings, receive public comment, and send a recommendation to the WRC executive board for approval.
Smith asked whether anyone would like to talk about the plan or the town’s approval process. Our current plan was approved by the voters in March, 2014, said Lewis Sumner. Smith advised that as of July 1, 2015, town plans were required to add a flood resiliency element. As the Halifax Town Plan was approved prior to that date, however, it could be approved by WRC without the addition of that element. Stephan Chait praised the plan and commented that perhaps it should contain a few more “shoulds” and a few less “maybes.” He complimented WRC and John Bennett for their assistance. Jesse Ferland asked whether Bennett had worked on the Town Plan as well as providing guidance during the more recent update of zoning regulations. Sumner recalled Bennett had been part of the plan revision process about three years ago, and said the request for WRC approval had been delayed following voter approval in 2014.
Sirean LaFlamme asked what happened to the town plan if the town did not have zoning. You still have the policies in place, answered Smith, and those policies can still be guiding. But enforcement is more difficult because the plan is not regulatory. Towns that don’t have zoning still have a town plan, said Sumner, and Smith confirmed that fact. Doug Grob wondered what effect zoning regulations, or lack of them, would have on potential proposed energy projects. Currently, replied Smith, such projects are under the authority of the Public Service Board. Municipalities can offer opinions for PSB consideration. That isn’t much of an issue at the moment, said Smith, as Green Mountain Power has hit their 15% cap on production, so the PSB is not reviewing projects. Some towns have voted either to approve or disapprove energy projects, said Sumner, but those votes are just a suggestion which can be overruled by the State.
The hearing was adjourned at 6:20 p.m.