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A vision for the future

10/24/2008

By the members of the Waitsfield Planning Commission

The Waitsfield Planning Commission is charged with writing the Town Plan, the blueprint for our shared vision of the town's future. The town plan takes into account the many forces, economic and otherwise, that affect the character of the town, such as the decline of dairy, the explosion in real estate values, the changing demographic and settlement patterns, both residential and commercial. A critical tool for implementing that vision is a viable water and sewer infrastructure.

The Town Plan reflects what the citizens have expressed over the years through many surveys and their voting actions. For example, town residents consistently expressed the desire to protect high elevation ridgelines from development; and Waitsfield became the first town in the state to prohibit development on the ridges above a given elevation in the Forest Reserve District. And in 2000, voters passed a bond vote so the town could buy the Munn disposal site because folks recognized that there is a need for water and sewer infrastructure in Irasville and Waitsfield.

Over the last 40 years, there has been tremendous pressure for residential development in the Agricultural/Residential district, which continues unabated.  The Planning Commission recognizes that if we are to preserve our historic working landscape and our agricultural heritage there must be places for residential development that does not desecrate the agricultural land with fragmented development. The two places where this pressure can be relieved are in Waitsfield Village and Irasville.  

A number of years ago, the Planning Commission recognized that Historic Waitsfield, a classic New England village, could not be duplicated in compliance with the zoning regulations initially adopted by the town or the more stringent health and environmental standards governing septic disposal and well water supply. If Irasville, the logical site for future growth, is to have any potential for development over time in ways that can replicate the best aspects of Historic Waitsfield Village, it needs to have water and sewer to allow the kind of dense pattern that typifies a livable village.  

Development in Irasville and Waitsfield Village will not only provide an outlet for some of the development pressure but will also provide a more pedestrian-friendly environment where people of all ages will be able to walk to school or the post office, the doctor, the movie theater or grocery store. The key to the success of this kind of development is to have the infrastructure to support it, from zoning bylaws to the physical infrastructure of water and sewer.  

The water bond is not simply about providing water and fire protection to the users in Waitsfield Village and Irasville, who will pay for the infrastructure. It is also about a workable vision for the future of Waitsfield and preserving our important rural heritage, which is why we urge voters to approve the water bond.
 
Waitsfield Planning commissioners include Steve Shea, chair, along with Robin Morris, Russ Bennett, Hadley Gaylord Jr., Brian Fleisher, Peter Lazorchak and Ted Tremper.
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