Voter Comments

 

Economic Development

Overall, I think the Economic Development chapter is great. I do think that in order to attain our energy goals of 90% renewable by 2050, it will be a necessary to greatly expand the workforce and jobs in weatherizing buildings. I think this could have a significant positive impact on the local economy and was not addressed in the chapter.

While the overall goals are honorable and sincere the details seem to be only about development. I question whether development will benefit those who need it most or whether it will just provide a greater gain for those already doing well. For that matter which town or area really needs the most help? Concern for the environment is part of this plan although it rarely is in the details.there are many environmental concerns that far outweigh our quest for immediate financial gratification. We enjoy a relatively pristine environment here and should not be compromised. I remember when the air in Arizona was so clean that it was a good place to build power plants. Now the grand canyon has smog.

I appreciate the focus on supporting existing businesses. – Thanks for recognizing the importance of downtowns and for the concrete actions to help improve them. Good work!

P. 2: include time stamp and natl comparison for unemployment stat. p. 5: first sentence under heading “Local/Regional Tourism”, please consider deleting “…and it is not looking for one.”

Our Homes

Overall: The vision statement on page 3 contains a subject-verb disagreement. “Support” needs an “s,” assuming it modifies mix. Otherwise, drop the “s” on “contributes.” A tense shift appears in the first bullet point on page 5 (at “allowing”). Page 5: “near areas that allow.” Is it the area that allows such and such or the community? Page 6: “a fraction of the need.” The need for what? Page 6: transportation is the second highest household cost. Okay. But what’s first? Don’t assume the reader knows. Page 7: Our region is getting older, and we are not prepared. –> Prepared for what? Cemetery space? Hospital beds? Page 7, under the “Perceptions” heading. Why is Region suddenly capitalized after “mixed-income”? Is it factual to say our high proportion of second homes and vacation rentals have lead to high rent prices in general? What evidence supports this claim? One area of the ECV region with a lot of rental housing stock is the South Royalton area. I’ve heard anecdotally that rental units there are expensive because (1) landlords always charge the maximum per unit rate established by the federal student loan program and (2) a handful of individuals control most of the units. Any truth to either? Second bullet point on page 6 of the fair housing assessment: “to preserve this type of housing.” What type? Top of page 17 – I think you want “funding” after “infrastructure.” Housing needs – page 16 says that vacation homes comprise 16% and 22% of the total number of homes in Vermont. Which one is it?

It begins with affordable housing – housing that is energy efficient, mindful of our changing climate, preserving natural habitats, and includes living spaces that encourage and sustain healthy living choices, such as tobacco-free housing and housing that is accessible to healthy foods and opportunities to be physically active. Another comment: consideration should be given to transform former school buildings (with the likelihood of consolidation of several schools in the Windsor Central SU, for example)into affordable multi-unit housing, senior housing or mixed housing.

While I am in favor of the overall plan, it seems to be “more of the same”—sort of a have your cake and eat it too solution. If we are going to make headway on global climate change, we must learn how to be content with less and how to survive without growth. There is plenty of wealth to go around but no willingness to share it equitably. As I am sure all concerned are aware, this is a global problem, and the most we can hope to do in Vermont is set a good example. I would be in favor of strong legislation to implement this plan.

I find the length of the plan very daunting. I was under the impression that chapters were to be limited and succinct to keep the plan to a realistic size?

With respect to Goal A, Policy A.2, Action 3: Per 24 VSA 4412(1)(E), “no bylaw shall have the effect of excluding as a permitted use one ADU…” This suggests to me that ADUs are already a permitted use – which implies review at the staff level as opposed to conditional use approval. If my interpretation is correct, that would make this action redundant.

With respect to Goal A, Policy A.s. Action 4: Comment: the “or” in the list could mean that you get scattered development that doesn’t align with policy A2 – particularly, the “or in areas of soils suited to onsite WW technology” could mean outlying, undeveloped ag lands rather than continuation of compact development areas.

With respect to Goal A, Policy A.3, Action 5: Would this be for all developments, or just for larger scale developments that are likely to be controversial? If a development is likely to be controversial, OTR may minimize costs for the town but could exclude neighbors and other parties. It’s a double-edged sword. Furthermore, if you adopted OTR for one type of development, I think you’d have to adopt it for all of them so that there’s fair treatment. This one’s tricky…

With respect to Goal A, Policy A.2, Action 6: Elaborate on what’s meant by “additional resources,” perhaps?

With respect to Goal A, Policy A.3, Action 8: Recommend changing “neighborhood planning areas” to “neighborhood development areas.” “Neighborhood planning areas” are just a planning/analysis tool: they’re simply the perimeter lines (1/4 mile around designated villages, 1/2 mile around designated downtowns). Neighborhood development areas, by contrast, are those areas which have been vetted against certain criteria and then designated as “development ready.” It’s the NDAs to which the benefits accrue – not the neighborhood planning areas. Because of this, it would be better to mention “neighborhood development areas” above.

Goal B, Policy B.1: The intent of this policy is excellent but the language somewhat vague – I’m trying to picture how an Act 250 district commission would evaluate whether a project conforms with this policy. I don’t have any suggestions right off the top of my head…

Goal C, Policy C.1, Action 1: Nice! Could add, “visualize density AND APPROPRIATE DESIGN” to emphasize that often, good density is about good design.

Goal A: My concern is that as written it does not reflect the broader perspective stated in the Actions below – the goal needs to have some flexibility and recognition that opportunities for well thought-out and integrated development outside of the historic settlement patterns/existing infrastructure infrastructure is possible and desirable.

Goal A, Policy A.2, Action 1: With the understanding that this goal does not stand alone but also considers policy A.2.2

Goal A, Policy A.2, Action 2: See not for Policy A.2.1

Goal A, Policy A.2, Action 3: Allow as option but not mandate if town doesn’t want to do

Goal A, A.3, Action 4: Provided an option and not a mandate for towns.

Goal B, Policy B.1: Still have mixed feelings about this because not clear how will work.

Overall: I approve the overall plan, providing Goal A is revised to be more reflective of the Actions under it – see my comments on the Goal.

Goal A, Policy A.1, Action 4: The place for the creation of building and energy codes belongs solely to the state

Goal A, Policy A.2, Action 5: Building and energy codes should be requirements should be developed at the state level and not be different by community

Goal B, Policy B.2, Action 1: The responsible party needs to identify the state Dept. of Aging and Disabilities, without them affordable assisted living cannot happen

Regional Transportation

Overall: Comprehensive and well done!

Well researched data on area and v impressive.

Include health care agencies in the mix of those potentially responsible for coming up with funds for basic transportation of those whose health relies on it.

The plan does a nice job of incorporating land use into the discussion as part of the problem and part of the solution. However, the only land use related policies pertained to affordable and senior housing. I hope and expect that land use policies will be addressed elsewhere in the plan. Thank you!

General issues Safety: the more mixed road uses are the less safe roads can potentially become. Safer to separate road users (have separate paths for bikers and pedestrians vs cars). Resilience in the floodplains: it might become prohibitively expensive to maintain roads and other infrastructure in the floodplain if we have increased frequency of storms with climate change, how do we adapt transportation and infrastructure planning for that? Town ownership: Oftentimes towns cannot add bike or walk paths because the land needed is in private ownership. Secure critical community areas through community land trusts. Educational campaigns to shift culture and increase car pooling (especially within family) and alternative fuel vehicles: This seems to be missing from the plan, maybe because other organizations are working on that? Ideas: large campaign for carpooling within family, have workplaces provide the flexibility they need to plan carpooling within the family. Work with major employers to cultivate a culture of bike/bus riding with employees that live at feasible distance. Telecommuting: it helps to offer office space outside of home, cafes with internet, entrepreneurship hubs Specific comments Policy B1, Action 5 (education re aging in place needing transport) not immediately clear, put in the positive? E.g: Increased quality of life when people aging in place and isolated have a transportation option Policy C1, Action 5, Bridge redundancy. What’s redundant from a biking/walking perspective? If the goal is just saving money it might not pay off when considering costs/benefits over a larger spectrum. If it discourages building new homes in the middle of nowhere, then it might make sense, it it reduces the enjoyment of bikers and runners, it might not be worth it… Policy D1 minimize habitat loss, I wonder whether mitigation policies could be adopted voluntarily by towns and/or landowners e.g. for each acre of habitat lost, an equal amount is restored/conserved in the proximity of the road intervention Policy D2, lessen impact to water supply: Are rain gardens and other ecological design solutions included under here under storm water treatment?

Very good work. I vote thumbs up.

Energy Use in the Built Environment

Page 3 – “Low energy efficiency standards”: are our standards low or do you mean “low-energy?” It might be better to say inadequate rather than low. Right under the heading, why capitalize “region?” Top of page five – “these were hill farms…” is a run-on sentence. Remove the comma after “current development patterns” on page 5. Amen to code enforcement.

Cost of converting to renewable energy sources, such as solar panels, may be prohibitive for many.

1) On p. 5, last paragraph, suggest modifying it to say “reduces the need for MOTORIZED transportation,” since even in smart growth locations transportation options (walking, biking, transit) are still needed. 2) Appendix B – In addition to the Smart Growth Network’s ten principles of smart growth, you may wish to include Vermont’s statutory definition from 24 VSA 2791(13). 3) Goal A mentions 90% “local” renewables. Is this different than the state’s broader goal, which does not specify “local?” 4) Nice job on Policy A4 and B4.

Goal B: Local reliance can add to cost.

Goals A & B, Policies A.1 & B.1: Support at federal level

Goals A & B, Policies A.1 & B.1, Action 1: Support at the federal level

Goals A & B, Policies A.1 & B.1, Action 3: Support at the federal level

Goals A & B, Polices A.2 & B.2: Support at the federal level and 2100

Goals A & B, Policies A.3 & B.2, Action 3: Support at the federal level

Goals A & B, Policies A.3 & B.3, Action 5: Federal and private, not state

Goals A & B, Policies A.5 & B.5, Action 2: Better information is needed before it is taken into the schools.

Healthy Communities

With respect to Goal C: Having participated in most of the health subgroup meetings, I noticed that the groups’ proposed action items were listed as ‘recommendations’ on page 12. This document would more accurately reflect the work of the group if the recommendations listed on page 12 were incorporated into action items.

With respect to Goal A, Policy A.1, Action 8: I like the inclusiveness of this goal, and the tone of inclusiveness that the whole chapter sets – nicely done!

With respect to Goal A, Policy A.1, Action 9: Should VTrans also be a partner in executing this policy?

With respect to Goal B, Policy B.1, Action 5: One way to improve access to food here would be to help farmers markets get EBT readers, if they don’t already have them.

With respect to Goal A, Policy A.1., Action 1: I just want to be sure I understand this correctly: I am reading this as if Act 250 is triggered by one of the existing categories then one of the required steps will be to consider health, including conducting a Health Impact Assessment. I think any item that lists the state as the responsible party should also indicate someone regionally who will be responsible for moving that agenda along.

With respect to Goal A, Policy A.1., Action 5: We may want to think about how this applies beyond recreation to other necessary services in the community -e.g. health care, healthy food options, etc.

With respect to Goal A, Policy a.1, Action 6: I think these should emphasize the importance of connectivity for work, play,and every day goods and services.

With respect to Goal C, Policy C.1, Action 1: This is definitely missing some specifics and page 12 is missing them, too. Please add back in specific policy and zoning recommendations that were listed in the version shared with the consortium in April. Preferably these would be included right here in Goal C, Policy C.1, but if not should be specifically included as they were written before in the list of recommendations on page 12.

With respect to Goal C, Policy C.1, Action 2: It seems like these are two separate issues awkwardly merged together here. Even repeating the word promote for the second clause about recovery support services would work.

With respect to Goal C, Policy C.2: Can we add substance abuse to this so that Policy C.1.3 goes smoother?

With respect to Goal C, Policy C.3, Action 3: To what end? I think this should mention the value it provides – recognizing and encouraging quality childcare that addresses the needs we have as communities (as stated in the text – positive social connection, healthy eating and physical activity, and allowing adults to contribute to the external economy of our region).

Additional comments on the text background: Page 4: Tobacco section should mention limiting exposure to smoking, second-hand smoke, and tobacco advertising. In the second sentence of the Alcohol section there is a typo – delete “is a”. page 5 need a citation for paragraph 2 in the left column. Also consider the photo choice for this section. It is generally bad public health practice to depict substance use or paraphernalia. page 8 – Instead of (or in addition to) talking about challenges to “aging in place” (end of first sentence) these are challenges to leading an active lifestyle with low-impact on the environment and those with limited access to transportation. page 12 – as mentioned above there are several more specifics that could be added here to give towns a clearer picture of what it is that they can do. So again, at a minimum add specific policy recommendations from the original Policy C.1. Also add community water fluoridation as a recommendation, policies in workplaces, childcares, etc. to support breastfeeding, and include something about trauma-informed services especially for child care providers.

With respect to Goal A, Policy A.1, Action 8: This is not very clear to me. I am not clear also of the consequences of voting No, or not voting on this one. Are health committees on the select board? Which would mean attracting people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds to the selectboards. Depending on the type of committee and their function it might be a good or bad thing having people of ALL backgrounds.

With respect to Goal B, Policy B.1, Action 1: “Find” doesn’t sound very intentional, maybe change to “Create”, “Identify”?

With respect to Goal B, Policy B.1, Action 5: Could this be: Support farming, CSAs, farmers markets and farm stands? It seems that to have access to healthy local food we need to make farming a viable option so that farmers can stay/come

With respect to Goal B, Policy B.1, Action 6: Does this include big employers?

With respect to Goal B, Policy B.1, Action 7: This is great, but then we should also require nutrition education at all levels (I studied fats, vitamins, proteins etc in elementary school, not sure how it works here in the US)

With respect to Goal C, Policy C.1, Action 2: especially any education that helps young people to build their self-awareness and life resilience skills

With respect to Goal C, Policy C.2, Action 1: I am not familiar with these programs but I am all in favor of evidence-based

With respect to Goal C, Policy C.3: Maybe specify affordable? High quality?

With respect to Goal C, Policy C.3, Action 3: That ties in well with specifying that we want high quality child care services

The context part of the document raises a lot of issues and challenges that are then not addressed by the actions or policies, like house affordability or making old homes more accessible for seniors. I assume that these aspects are covered in other parts of the plan, but I wonder whether there would be ways to highlight these overlaps and connections?

With respect to Goal C, Policy C.1, Action 1: I have concern with liberties taken by the ECV in making changes to language the Health Subcommittee submitted specific to Goal C , Policy C.1 referred to on page 12. Both the policy section and list of recommendations miss some of the original language included which had specifics on how, exactly, towns could write policy to limit substances that can be harmful to youth. Several Health sub-committee members agree that the changes made water down the recommendations too much. PLEASE KEEP THE SPECIFIC, ORIGNIAL LANGUAGE SUBMITTED BY TEH SUBCOMMITEE somewhere in the plan (whether they be in Policy C.1 itself or on page 12 in the new document.

Overall: I have serious concerns, as stated, specifically around Policy C.1. In general, it was frustrating to dedicate hours of time to do subcommittee work only to have it edited in a way that 1)undermines the knowledge of the members from the field of health promotion and 2) demonstrates that the editors are not knowledgeable of what it takes to do the work of effective, population-based health promotion and how significant of an impact that the original recommendations made can have on the health of our region.

With respect to Goal A, Policy A.1, Action 1: Act 250 is not the location for these Health Impact Assessments. HIA should be part of the local planning process first.

Overall: If possible, try to include the latest data for the intro pages, since it would be most helpful to towns. I’m not sure we need separate health committees in each town, particularly for small towns, but that town planning commissions, select boards and all town policy people should receive training on how to incorporate health considerations into their policy discussions, specifically training on HIA. I think if the interest is there, it would be great to have a health committee, but I also see how hard it is to get people for school board, town planning commission, select board, etc. Keep in the chapter, but don’t mandate it.

Goal C1 action #1 uses the word “health” in the same sentence. ….further good health to ensure the health… Can the second health be dropped and just use “well-being” or some other version.

Climate Resilience

Overall: The vision statement is confusing because of the placement of “impacts.” The statement should be re-written as a complete sentence with subject and verb. Page 3 – the discussion of species starts off with some specifics (specific trees), but the rest is pretty unclear. What types of alpine communities, for example, will migrate north? What species does the author mean? Page 7 – what is surface water heating?

I thought this plan was very realistic and showed understanding that much of the climate issue is out of our local control, but there are things we can do to prepare.

This chapter addresses Adaptation, but we must be clear that the root causes of climate change require shifts in human choices — OUR choices! Adaptation should not distract from the imperative of reducing the drivers of climate change.

Consider including the current Vermont Complete Streets legislation, which requires that, when re-building roads or designing new ones, they are wide enough to have pedestrian/cycle lanes.

More attention should be paid to: the importance of protecting or enhancing wetlands for flood mitigation.

Page 2, right column “mitigation” does not work in sentence

Overall: Support is conditional, based on comments provided (note: no comments were provided)

Goal A, Policy A.2, Action 3: Any code related changes should be applied to all buildings and not just those requiring an act 250 permit

Goal A, Policy A.4: Mapped flood zones include many existing downtowns and villages

Habitat Conservation

Overall: A policy that specifically bans chopping wildlife corridors into two-acre parcels might be helpful.

Preserving and protecting our natural habitats should be considered in any community development project.

Please consider the protection of farmland in addition to forest and wetland habitats. This might be embedded in Smart Growth, but it would help to spell it out, especially when it comes to tradeoffs with renewables: solar fields for commercial purposes on fertile farmland should be discouraged

Page 12, Action #1, Responsible Parties Change to: “….. Vermont League of Cities and Towns, Agency of Natural Resources”

Goal C, Policy C.4: Not sure about the “only” this should certainly be priority, but there may be situations where it would really make sense and some flexibility should be preserved.

Goal B, Policy B.2: This will be highly controversial if left at the local level. Need to be consistent and make state wide. I.e. ANR, Army Corp, etc.

Goal B, Policy B.2, Action 4: Only if from State or Federal monetary contribution.

Goal C, Policy C.1, Action 1: True monetary costs of compromising ecosystems may not be scientifically calculated. True cost of losing them may not get them back. Which cost?

Goal C, Policy C.3, Action 2: Restricting communities from growth outside of population densities could eliminate development. If ecosystem considerations are reviewed and discounted, development should be eliminated entirely.

Goal C, Policy C.4: Eliminates woodchip projects or hydro. Should remain under PSB control.

Goal B, Policy B.2, Action 1: Conservation is given priority over what? Too many competing interests here to vote yes

Public Water Supply & Treatment

This is very comprehensive and eye-opening! Good work.

Good Job! Very thorough!

I’ll vote yes, but water is well outside my area of expertise.

If at all possible to tie the water supply chapter to a Health concept, there could be an opportunity to promote medication disposal to keep medications our of our public water supply. I’m happy to help with this should the need arise.

With respect to Goal B, Policy B.1: It’s important to care about water both at the source and at the faucet. Most people I know have no idea of where their municipal drinking water comes from. E.g. the people who live on lake Mascoma (like me) have no idea that the lake and the Mascoma river supply Lebanon’s drinking water, and there is careless use of fertilizers and pesticides on lawns alla round the lake. I wonder about how much the town of Lebanon would save in water treatment if the watershed was managed for drinking water as opposed to motor boat recreation and dandelion-free lawns…

With respect to Goal B, Policy B.2: Discourage development and mitigate impact of existing development

With respect to Goal B, Policy B.2, Action 1: Not familiar with the various classes, but I am in favor of stricter scrutiny for higher impact developments

With respect to Goal B, Policy B.3, Action 5: Cost-benefit analysis of what, repairing versus not repairing? Not enough info, so it’s hard for me to vote on this one

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