IRASBURG — Members of the Irasburg Planning Commission this week began distributing copies of a comprehensive survey asking the views of Irasburg citizens as input into the Irasburg Town Plan that the commission is currently developing.
“The first copies of the survey were available at Town Meeting,” said Planning Commission Chair Robin Kay. “We are hoping to hear from every citizen of Irasburg to learn what they think about issues that will determine our town’s future. The more people we hear from, the better our new town plan will serve Irasburg’s needs.”
Surveys will be available throughout the month of March at various locations in Irasburg: Ray’s Market, Bob’s Quick-Stop, the Leach Public Library, the Irasburg Village School and the Irasburg Town Clerk’s Office.
Completed surveys can be returned to the Town Clerk’s Office (P.O. Box 51, Irasburg, VT 05845). They can also be dropped off at the Irasburg Village School or at the book return slot at the Leach Public Library.
Surveys can be completed online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PT5WYF3
The survey asks Irasburg citizens’ views on the future direction of business and commercial development, housing, energy development, environmental protection and historic preservation, as well as on Irasburg’s general character and the quality of community services.
Irasburg is one of only a handful of towns in Vermont without an existing town plan.
“A town plan is a critical tool in allowing a town to determine its own future,” said Planning Commissioner Lori Royer. “Without an approved town plan, we are very vulnerable. We have no official way to communicate to state government, developers and others what is important to Irasburg citizens.”
In October 2016, Irasburg citizens voted 274 to 9 to oppose the use of any of the town’s ridgelines for development by industrial wind projects. At the same time, more than 400 voters petitioned the Irasburg selectboard to develop a town plan that protects all of Irasburg’s ridgelines from industrial development.
“Our vote in October was decisive in demonstrating the views of Irasburg citizens in rejecting industrial wind development,” said Planning Commissioner Michael Sanville. “However, it was a non-binding vote as far as the state Public Service Board is concerned. Now it’s up to the town plan to make those views official.”
Several Irasburg citizens have expressed concern that developing a town plan might mean the adoption of zoning regulations, said Planning Commissioner Judith Jackson.
“There won’t be any zoning in Irasburg’s town plan,” Jackson said. “In the tradition of Yankee independence, Irasburg has not elected to adopt any land use regulations. The plan will not prescribe development standards for properties located in town. The plan will be a guide that recommends a vision for future land uses. It will provide an opportunity to broadly characterize the types and scales of development appropriate in different areas of town.”
The Planning Commission hopes to have survey results in hand by the end of March. The commission’s timeline calls for submitting a plan for public review and comment by fall of 2016.