Meeting dedicated to working on town plan
by Margo Avakian
May 30, 2013 | 2461 views | 0 0 comments | 40 40 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HALIFAX- At a special meeting dedicated to work on the town plan, the commissioners received offers of practical assistance from selectboard chair Edee Edwards and Margaret Bartenhagen, one of the town’s representatives on the Windham Regional Commission. Edwards confirmed that funds for consultation with the WRC have been approved; she also offered encouragement and suggestions on “project management” issues. Bartenhagen undertook to act as liaison between the board and the WRC. She will also review the draft of the new Halifax plan, comparing it with those of other towns in the region. As part of her work with the WRC, Bartenhagen said, she has reviewed a number of plans and is familiar with the elements required for such documents.

New commissioner Steve Towne volunteered to act as the contact between the town and regional commission. “I can guarantee you 10-12 hours a week (to work on the plan),” Towne said. After taking a few days to examine the current draft of the plan, Towne and Bartenhagen will meet with Chris Campany, WRC executive director, to work out which areas of the document require professional assistance.

Linda Smith, who was elected chair, told Edwards and Bartenhagen of the board’s frustrating efforts to elicit comments and proposals from local residents with expertise in various areas, such as agriculture and telecommunications. The board is composed of volunteers with limited time and planning knowledge, Smith noted. Further, a great deal of meeting time has been preempted by other tasks, such as hearings on site plan and conditional use applications.

Commissioners hope to have the plan ready to mail out for review by the WRC and neighboring towns by July 1, and have set a target date of mid-August for the first public hearing on the plan. A minimum 30 day review period is required between delivery of the draft and the hearing. If that hearing results in a need for changes, a second hearing (with another waiting period) will take place. The plan then goes to the selectboard, which, after yet another waiting period, will hold its own public hearing - or hearings. The final step in the plan’s adoption will be a townwide vote at the March 2014 Town Meeting.

The balance of Tuesday’s meeting was given over to review of the last sections of the current plan, tagging items for updating, elimination, or referral to the WRC.

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