Planning & Zoning Board Notices & Minutes

Aug 8, 2018

Approved Planning Board Minutes - August 8, 2018

6:00 PM


PRESENT:  Chair Linda MacNeil, Vice Chair Tony J. Ilacqua, Franco Rossi, Mary Menzies, Bruce Ralston, Milton Bratz, and Joanna Ray (recording secretary)

EXCUSED:  Jim Daly

ABSENT: Colin Trahan and Val Poulsen

OTHERS:  Tara Bamford

Chair MacNeil called the meeting to order at 6:00.  Tara Bamford was present to discuss her proposal to assist the Planning Board with updating the Master Plan.


Tara stated that the Master Plan is a process that most of the community is agreeing on.  There should not be any controversial issues.  Chair MacNeil told Tara that site plan review has been a controversial issue and asked how she would approach the topic when it came up.  Tara replied that there would be a public meeting when the land use section is reached.  This would give various people a chance to voice their opinions about the topic and whether or not there would be an acceptable option.  


Milton informed Tara of the recent survey that had a question regarding affordable housing.  The survey results were clear that more affordable housing is not desired and that the Town has reached its limit. That topic may come back.  Tara was not sure about the housing data, but would look into it.  Tara has written about the housing needs for the region and would use that as a resource that could be discussed with the community.  This is a good round table discussion.  Workforce housing is a big piece of development.  


Tara was asked how she would respond to any disagreement with the Planning Board.  Tara replied that the Planning Board is driven by the general consensus. 


Tara is a sole proprietor of her business and does not have a team to help her with the update.  Vice Chair Ilacqua asked what items would be tossed to the Planning Board.  Tara replied that the Planning Board would not be the only ones doing the work.  Other active members in the community would be part of the process.  She would like to form a committee for the outreach and have monthly roundtable discussions. Chair MacNeil asked how many members would be recommended for the committee.  Tara said she had worked with committees that only had two members, but worked with a really active committee of 12-15 in Whitefield.  The ideal number is 8-12. 


Franco asked where the Board would step in to change the community consensus if the Board feels that something is not good for the community.  Tara replied that she would offer information to educate the community and present the best ideas.  Sometimes the best ideas might not be right for the community.


Tara explained that a meeting or two would be for the review of the Implementation Chapter.  This would be the time to ask what items have been completed and why other items have not been .  Tara stated that she wrote the plan for Easton as well as updated it.  About 85% of the items were implemented.  Milton mentioned that major sections were delegated to the Selectboard, but were never addressed.  Tara has been asked by other communities to help with the implementation items and is often hired the next year for zoning amendments.  Vice Chair Ilacqua asked what the common theme was for the lack of implementation.  Tara stated that some plans are not realistic.  Some Towns add items, but other things come up so the priorities change.  All Boards involved need to be engaged in the plan. 


In regards to surveys, Tara recommended sending one to every address.  Getting the engagement of others would be through roundtable meetings.  This is helpful for the voters that did not get a chance to complete the survey, but want to provide input.  Milton explained that a survey was mailed out to about 10% of the voters in Town, but many did not respond or envelopes came back unopened.  Tara said surveys can be done online, but it is usually a small response.  Tara added that mailing a postcard with a link to the survey or location of paper surveys might work as well.  There is usually a high response from a 1-2 sided survey with an online option.  Tara would like to start with a visioning meeting and go from there to help line up the goals. Surveys help on deciding how to get to the goal.


Tara could not think of any communities that she worked with that have shelved their plans.  Communities need something that is not a big text book of data.  It needs to be readable.   Tara recommended meeting once a year to go through the implementation again and see what items need to be addressed.  Chair MacNeil suggested a more specific list and preferred reviewing it twice a year. The first meeting would be to discuss and the second would be to see the progress.  Vice Chair Ilacqua added that it gives the opportunity to engage various committees to keep the momentum moving.  Tara stated that the implementation committee could grow into a review committee.  Bruce stated that the Selectboard is the funding group for some of the implementation items.  Milton added that the Selectboard members change between the reviews.   Tara added that some implementation items take 20 years to complete.  Hopefully, the Board would update the plan over that time frame.


Franco noted that Tara had listed references. He added that Littleton is different due to the diversity.  Tara did not have recent references for communities like Littleton.  She did not want to provide something out of date.   


Mary asked about the proposed timeline if Tara was hired.  Tara replied that the goal is 18 months, but not more than 2 years. 


The Board will consider both proposals and make a decision at their August 21, 2018 meeting.


At 7:00, Vice Chair Ilacqua made a motion to adjourn.  Mary second the motion.  The motion passed by all.


Submitted by,

Joanna Ray