Current Town Happenings Relevant to the SAFE Mission
Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF): Our two current WWTF's are nearing the end of their expected 25-30 year lifespan and a new WWTF is needed. This will be, by far, the largest capital budget item for the town ($30+ million), and there is an expected vote by the town next March (2023) to approve a bond that will fund the project. The "Preliminary Engineering Study" was presented to the SB at its 7/26/2022 meeting. This will be a recurring agenda item. SAFE will be watching the project, along with the NRCC, to ensure attention is paid to the potential for on-site solar and to Lake Champlain water quality issues or other environmental issues related to siting and operation of the new WWTF.
Use of COVID relief funds ("ARPA Funds"): The town has about $2.3 million of funds available for use from the 2021 Federal COVID relief bill. The immediate next step is to establish the application and appointment process for a citizens' advisory committee to make recommendations to the SB for spending priorities on various town projects and needs. SAFE hopes that some of the approved projects will have an environmental and/or climate crisis focus.
Zoning reform: For many recent months, issues about the zoning rules applicable to residential areas along the western side of the north Route 7 corridor have been discussed on-and-off by the SB (and the PC -- see below). The SB asked the PC for guidance, and that process will unfold over the next 2-3 months, with an ultimate public hearing and then a final vote by the SB. The PC has unanimously approved a change for this area [the "Mixed Residential Character District (MCRD)" under the "Shelburne Road Form-Based Overlay District (SR-FBOD)"] which would revert the zoning rules to the regular zoning bylaws, and remove the "form-based" rules.
Bike / Ped Connectivity Study: At the 7/26/2022 SB meeting this study was presented to guide the process of funding and approving various sub-projects to improve and expand the current system of sidewalks, bike lanes, trails, and shared-use paths within Shelburne. With slight modifications, the SB is expected to approve the study recommendations. SAFE supports the goals of these projects, since they will help to reduce auto usage and to promote development in the core part of the town, rather than sprawl into the current rural areas. We do want the NRCC to have the opportunity for input on any trails or shared-use paths that might abut natural open spaces.
Planning Commission (PC)
Zoning / Form-Based Code: At their 7/14/2022 meeting the PC voted to move forward with a unanimous vote to change the zoning rules for the "Mixed Residential Character District (MCRD)" in the "Shelburne Road Form-Based Code Overlay District (SR-FBOD)". The change will simply remove the MCRD from the SR-FBOD, meaning that the regular zoning bylaws will then apply in that district, with significantly lower density requirements. This change will now move to a posted public hearing at a PC meeting, and then, if passed, on to another posted public hearing at a SB meeting, where a final vote will occur. This action follows a consultant report that found the form-based rules problematic in many regards -- including that it could allow developments that did not fit the goals expressed in Shelburne's "Comprehensive Town Plan." This change is supported by SAFE, as one of our over-riding principles is the importance (and legal requirement!) that all zoning rules need to be anchored on the goals expressed in the town plan.
Zoning / Full "Reg Reform" Project: Moving forward, the PC now expects to start a complete review, and likely reform, of the current zoning regulations. The regulations have grown in complexity over the years, with many amendments and additions. As the "Reg Reform" project is quite large and complex, one of the first steps is likely to be the selection of consultant. This will be a very important decision. SAFE believes that a consultant should have deep experience with issues involving rural zoning and the protection of natural resources and natural spaces. SAFE also expects to remain very connected to this project over the coming months -- monitoring progress and making recommendations when needed. There is an urgent need for reform, and while the project is large, we hope that it will move forward as quickly as possible.
Development Review Board (DRB)
The DRB regularly reviews proposed development projects for compliance, and public comments can often be critical to shaping the outcome. Most large proposals will involve environmental issues, and a critical need is for the NRCC to have an adequate opportunity for review and input. This process has not always gone smoothly, but changes have recently been adopted. SAFE supports the NRCC in it's efforts get timely input opportunities for all developments.
Information packets for DRB meetings can be found HERE
Natural Resource & Conservation Committee (NRCC)
Mapping Project: The NRCC has been working to develop mapping resources that can be referenced in the zoning regulations. This will greatly help to specify what areas might need special attention with respect to protection of wildlife habitat and/or connectors, forest blocks and other critical natural resources. A consultant has just been hired to complete the final phase of this work.
Here is the general link on the Shelburne website for all current and past meetings
Here is a link that describes the various entities of town government
Here are some important links to the Shelburne zoning regulations and related documents
Town Maps Several very useful maps, including especially the map that shows all of the land parcels in Shelburne, and the various zoning districts that have differing rules for the parcels within each district.
Open Space Plan This is the 2017 plan developed by the NRCC and approved by the SB.
Shelburne Regulations:(WARNING -- This stuff is dense...and often approaches incomprehensible!)