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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673

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G.I.S. mapping gives a bird's eye view


By Kara Herlihy

A large part of my very new job is spending a lot of time -- a lot -- sitting in on Development Review Board hearings and Select Board meetings. With these meetings comes a segment I like to call, "Let's go to the map." Usually it begins with the rolling out of large Mylar sheets that show property lines, wetlands, their buffers and the recently all-important driveway configuration.

As I am new to The Valley, and admittedly directionally challenged, I usually spend the mapping portion nodding my head agreeably but, not surprisingly, completely bewildered. The maps are just fine; it is the larger context that is amiss.

This is where I express my immense gratitude to the town of Warren for their implementation of G.I.S. mapping system on their website. Luddites take notice: Towns have websites now -- it's never too late.


The system is ingenious. Readily available on the top right-hand corner of the page, it allows users to search for land parcels by owner, address, parcel ID or street name. Once the parcel is found, users are able to zoom in and out, which helps with the 'big picture' I was too afraid to ask for.
Take the proposed three-lot subdivision on the lower end of Main Street. I was present at the preliminary hearing where abutting neighbor Charlie Snow expressed his opposition to the placement of the Newcomb's driveway. After about 30 minutes of back and forth about the curvature of the driveway, its curb cut and grade, I was still unable to grasp how this driveway's layout was causing contention.


Thank you G.I.S. mapping. After searching for the parcel by owner, I could see that the Newcomb parcel from far away covered a significant portion of primo Main Street real estate and up close, the illusive driveway configuration. The Newcomb's drive, instead of pitching straight up, curves around in an 'S' shape right onto Snow's property. Ah ha.

The project was part of a large undertaking by town lister Priscilla Robinson. Since Warren was never surveyed, the town was looking for a way to transition from the traditional paper tax maps to a more universal and easily accessible land mapping system.


Robinson assured me that I was not alone in my struggle to decipher property lines and natural boundaries. The maps come in very handy for seasonal residents or those that are new to the area. Robinson said that she wanted the maps to "give power to the people who pay taxes" and offer the "same privileges to those who don't live in Warren year round."

The maintenance on the system runs up to $3,700 a year. Robinson noted that she was lucky to receive a joint grant from the International Association of Assessing Officers and also use reappraisal money from the state to fund the project.

As of yet, Warren is the only town in The Valley to implement the G.I.S. mapping system; Robinson said she has spoken to the Steering Committee who has expressed interest in the system, and said that someday "it would be nice to see a Valleywide map."


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