by Andrew Martin
Officials in Wolcott have adopted a new town plan. As part of their regularly scheduled meeting the Wolcott Selectboard held a public hearing on the proposed plan on Wednesday, April 3. After a brief discussion with the community members present the board made several minor changes to the plan before unanimously approving it. The Planning Commission had previously held its own public hearings on the new plan in early 2013.
“We are required to update the town plan every five years,” explained Wolcott Planning Commission Chair Dan Noyes, “If we do not update it then we are not eligible for a great deal of state funds.”
“The plan is visionary, not regulatory,” Noyes continued, “It is what the town wants moving forward, and state agencies and boards take it into consideration for different projects.” He went on to explain that while the new plan is not regulatory itself, it is used as a consultation document when the new zoning and subdivision regulations are created in the coming years. Those new regulations will be written to match the goals and desires stated in the updated town plan.
Noyes and his fellow Planning Commission (PC) board members began working on the new town plan over a year ago. According to Noyes one of the major areas the PC paid special attention to while updating the plan was land use and areas where businesses could potentially go into town near the coming Lamoille Valley Rail Trail (LVRT).
Noyes also explained that the PC took a strong stance on building in the flood plain in town. The PC met extensively with representatives from FEMA and other agencies and as a result the new plan states that it is not appropriate to develop along the Lamoille and Wild Branch Rivers on property in the 500 year flood plain. An additional portion of the plan dealing with flooding stated that the town should begin examining alternative locations for the Wolcott Fire Station, which currently sits in the flood plain and could be at risk during a major flood.
Other topics the PC updated included managing the land in Wolcott that serves as a wildlife corridor between the Lowell and Elmore mountain ranges, Act 148 that deals with state-enforced mandatory compost and recycling, and how day cares are permitted in the town.
As they worked on the chapters of the new plan, the PC consulted with experts on each topic. John Mandeville, the executive director of the Lamoille Economic Development Corporation, attended the commission’s meetings that dealt with economic development. Different state officials also attended a number of the other meetings for various topics. The Wolcott Selectboard also stayed heavily involved with the process, attending meetings held by the PC and keeping updated on the developing plan.
“The Lamoille County Planning Commission was a big help as well,” explained Noyes, “They helped us write the new plan to make sure it complied with all the state regulations and statutes, and they reviewed each chapter with us multiple times.”
Before approving the new plan the Wolcott Selectboard made a total of three small changes to the proposed plan. The first involved adding a clause designating Wolcott Pond as a quiet pond. A number of town residents have submitted a petition asking for this, and the board felt it would be appropriate to include in the plan. Another paragraph was removed from the plan since the board felt it was out of date, and one other small change was made regarding the wording of a clause dealing with generators at the town offices and school.