Thursday November 29, 2012

KEITH WHITCOMB JR.

Staff Writer

POWNAL -- Residents are being asked what they want the town to look like over the next five, or possibly 15 or so, years.

Chairman of the Planning Commission Michael Slattery said Wednesday there is still time to fill out a Pownal Town Plan Survey, which will be collected on Friday from various places in town. He said a survey was mailed out to everyone on the grand list some weeks ago, but mobile home parks only got one to a park.

"This is the first time we’ve sent this out," Slattery said. The survey was based off similar questionnaires from other towns, which the Planning Commission tweaked and adjusted to fit Pownal’s needs.

Every five years

The state requires towns to update their plans every five years in order to remain eligible for different grants it receives. Slattery said the plan was to have it redone last year, but work on updating subdivision regulations put it off and so the commission got an extension for this year.

Slattery said the commission had found the subdivision regulations and the bylaws were confusing to people trying to obtain permits. "It was all to scattered," he said. To alleviate some of the confusion he said the subdivision regulations were adjusted and some bylaws rewritten to match.

He said the new town plan will not have to be done from scratch and will likely only reflect adjustments that need to be made. "We are not going to reinvent the wheel," he said. "We are going to change things we feel need changing."

According to Slattery, the commission is not sure what that is yet, and hopes to find out from the public. The five-page survey asks people some basic information about themselves and their families, how satisfied they are with town utilities, and what they would like to see in terms of housing, transportation, and economic development. Slattery said a high return on the surveys would be 20 percent, and after that the commission will hold multiple public meetings to get more feedback. He said the commission is not wanting to dictate what will be in the town plan and sees this phase as a research project. He does not expect a draft to be complete until the end of 2013.

Slattery said the town plan informs the bylaws, which govern things like what can be built and where. The plan and bylaws have to at least roughly agree with each other and one reason for updating is to get them into alignment after things change over half a decade. He said he would not expect any sweeping changes to the plan or the bylaws through this process.

Surveys can be picked up at Winchester’s Store on Route 7, Quality and Convenience on Route 346, the North Pownal Post Office, or the Pownal Town Office on Center Street. They can be dropped off at those locations, as well as Stewart’s Shop on Route 7, or mailed to the Planning Commission at P.O. Box 411, Pownal, Vt., 05261.