Forum on Zoning and Town Bylaw Amendments -- Oct 18th, 2017

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At tonight's meeting, I was more a participant than a spectator - trying to answer questions and so forth. I didn't take notes during the meeting; these are the high level observations I noted afterwards.

During the first public meeting, there were several requests for a key - a document to map sections of current ZBL to sections of the recodified ZBL. We provided a key (called a "guide"), but people didn't seem to like it. Instead, they asked for a redline. It will be really hard to produce a redline for the recodification, because many sections moved around; we didn't simply change things in place. It's likely that a redline would be little more than "cross out all the old text, and insert the new". I don't see how that would be helpful (though one speaker indicated that he'd prefer to see a such a redline, even if it was twice as long as the ZBL).

This was our second public meeting on the second reading draft. At the first public meeting, people wanted materials to help them correlate between the documents, and that's what we tried to provide this time. However, we're still presenting the second reading draft, which doesn't incorporate comments made from the first public meeting. There was definitely frustration from people who submitted comments and didn't see them addressed. Unfortunately, they won't be addressed until the third reading draft.

There was concern about the overall timeline, and requests to slow the process down. In particular, people felt that the third reading draft should incorporate comments received through the Nov 9th deadline for commentary. And the ARB needs adequate time to review the third reading draft in advance of their hearing.

There was concern about striking the inland wetlands district. In particular, are we sure that everything in the ZBL is covered by conservation commission regulations. Cathy Garnett got up to address this question. The conservation commission approved the general idea of removing the inland wetlands section, but no one from the commission has done a thorough comparison of the two. In terms of environmental issues, the conservation bylaws are stronger than the ZBL. But the conservation bylaws don't address land use, and there may be land use issues that aren't addressed by conservation commission regulations. It's something we need to look at more closely.

Finally, there was a question about how our ZBL became inconsistent with state law. There is a simple explanation: we wrote our ZBL, state law changed, and we never update our ZBL to be consistent with those changes. The Dover amendment is one example of this, but there are others. We require special permits for educational and religious uses in some districts, and state law doesn't allow us to do that.