Thursday December 01, 2011
Who do we want to be as a community?
The City of South Burlington is currently engaged in the process of updating its Comprehensive Plan. According to Vermont State law, the City must revise and improve its plan every five years. Rather than serving as a long range plan for the city, the Comprehensive Plan becomes a framework for community development and a template for the future. The planning process offers the opportunity to answer the question, “Who do we want to be as a community?”
The city has been operating under the guidelines of the 2001 plan. The 2001 revision incorporated substantial changes and updates into the Comprehensive Plan that have served the city for ten years. In 2006, only a partial revision occurred, with just a few aspects of the plan having been re-evaluated. In particular, the Southeast Quadrant chapter was reviewed, resulting in a re-write of that section of the plan. Along with a few other minor changes, the City Council adopted the 2006 revision.
The current re-evaluation began over 18 months ago, in anticipation of the March 2011 deadline for an updated plan. In order to allow sufficient time for the substantial work entailed in a full plan update, the City Council re-adopted the 2006 plan last March. That gave the Planning Commission and the City Council until March 2016 to finalize a new Comprehensive Plan. However, according to Paul Conner, director of Planning and Zoning, the goal and expectation is that a new plan will be forthcoming long before that date.
The Planning Commission has already done substantial work on re-drafting the plan. On November 22, the Commission, along with Director Paul Conner, re-examined their drafted vision statement and broad goals. At their next meeting on December 7, the Planning Commission will begin to review the 87 objectives included in the current draft.
The fluid nature of this “work in progress” allows for ongoing refinement and improvement. Throughout the process, the seven members of the Planning Commission are diligently using their vision statement to drive the development of plan details and to achieve a unified outcome. Although still in draft form, their vision statement projects a cohesive community that includes diverse and affordable housing, a sustainable and accessible natural environment, strong employment opportunities and a vibrant sense of community. This is the beacon toward which they are drawn.
Of the ten current goals listed in the plan, one that has widespread support from both the Commission and the City Council is the development of the city center. The intent of the Commission, says Conner, is to balance all the goals together to achieve the vision. He and the Commission welcome and encourage input from members of the community as an integral part of the planning process. The Chair and Vice Chair of the Planning Commission, Chris Shaw and Tim Duff respectively, have reported plans to hold several workshops in February 2012 to solicit public input. Stay tuned.
SOURCE: Lois Price, Correspondent
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Other Paper welcomes its newest correspondent, SB resident Lois Price.