Overview of Woodbury Town Planning Process
November 20, 2020
Why a Town Plan: Every Vermont town is legally required to have an adopted plan, updated every eight years. The plan articulates resident’s aspirations for the town’s future and describes how to achieve them. A plan will: 1) help Woodbury make better decisions about how to use its resources and apply its regulatory authority; 2) give the town greater access to state, federal, and private grant funding; and 3) give the town a stronger voice in state infrastructure and land development permitting decisions.
History and Current Status: Woodbury’s most recent plan was adopted in 2003, making it long overdue for revision. An updated plan was drafted in 2016 but was not finalized. During Town Meeting 2020, Planning Commission Chairman Skip Lindsay proposed, and residents in attendance agreed to, allocating $10,000 for a comprehensive plan revision. During the summer, the Planning Commission solicited bids from planning consultants to provide technical assistance during the planning process. The Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission (CVRPC) was the successful bidder. Planners Clare Rock and Zach Maia are now supporting the planning process and will continue to do so through September 2021 when the plan is scheduled to be submitted for adoption by the Select Board and the CVRPC.
Planning Process and Plan Content
Vermont town planning guidelines call for a five step planning process: 1) Community Assessment; 2) Shared community vision formulation; 3) Goals and policies development; 4) Mapping of desired future land use; and 5) Priority actions identification. Community assessment includes creating a picture of Woodbury as it is now in terms of history, population, economy, education, infrastructure, housing, communications, transportation, energy use, land use, and natural resources. A core element of the assessment process is engaging residents to understand their perceptions of the town and aspirations for its future. This information forms the basis for a community discussion about creating a community vision and later to develop goals, policies and actions to achieve the vision. The CVRPC will gather data and create maps to support the visioning and planning process. In addition to the above topics, towns are legally mandated to include provisions in the plan to protect large forest blocks and reduce flood impacts. Towns may include additional topics of local interest.
Agreeing on a vision of Woodbury’s future is at the heart of the planning process. A vision statement typically addresses overall town character, educational and economic opportunities, land and natural resource use, and government services but isn’t limited to these topics. The vision may include a desire to maintain elements of the town’s character while identifying areas where change is desired.
Where We Are Now
The Planning Commission and consultants have developed a survey to get input from Woodbury full and part-time residents on topics that are critical to developing the vision. This survey may be completed electronically on Survey Monkey or filled out on a paper form available at the town office until early January. Members of the Planning Commission will interview selected residents in more depth.
Monthly progress updates will be posted on the town website and on Front Porch Forum. Survey results will be posted as they are available using an information dashboard that will be developed by a volunteer Woodbury resident.
The town planning process usually includes a number of public meetings as the plan is developed to allow community members to interact with each other and with the commissioners. Public meetings are not possible now but the Planning Commission is hopeful that we will be able to hold public meetings next summer.
November-December 2020: Solicit community input as described above. CVRPC begins data analysis and mapping.
January-February 2021: Summarize interview and survey responses and share them with the community. Community feedback incorporated into the body of information used to develop the Vision. CVRPC begins updating data and text in the Town Plan.
March-April 2021: Woodbury Planning Commission and CVRPC develops the vision and goals section of the plan and shares these with the community. CVRPC continues updating the plan.
May-June 2021: The draft Town Plan is finalized through public meetings, while also seeking comments through electronic media.
July-September 2021: The Woodbury Town Plan is submitted for town adoption. Public hearings are held by the Planning Commission and then the Select Board. Revisions, if necessary, are made. Upon adoption by the Select Board, the plan will be reviewed by CVRPC for regional approval and legal adoption.