HALIFAX — The Planning Commission is being asked to soften up zoning regulations in town.
"During hearings and meetings on the zoning regulation issue this year, the Select Board heard numerous citizens testify to a desire for simpler, less restrictive zoning bylaws," the board wrote to the commission on Sept. 6. "The opinion was shared by those in favor of zoning repeal as well as those wishing to retain zoning regulations."
Residents voted 148-126 in favor of keeping the regulations. The question popped up on ballots in August after a petition featuring 125 signatures had circulated because some people felt zoning ordinances adopted at annual Town Meeting in March imposed too many limitations on property owners.
Resident Wayne Courser, who had started the petition, had troubles with sections about not disturbing the soil nor selling loam and gravel. He said the ordinances had gotten "way out of hand."
The board said it would like to encourage the commission to "consider undertaking a rewrite of the town's zoning bylaws to create a basic set of regulations" that support and align with goals outlined in the town plan. The new regulations should minimize restrictions on the "practical, everyday work and personal activities of rural property owners," according to the letter.
Select Board Chairman Lewis Sumner said the decision to draft the letter was unanimous among the three board members.
"I think on the conservation district, they're a little restrictive," he said when asked whether he had taken particular issue with any sections of the new zoning bylaws.
The commission is meeting on Tuesday and the letter is on the agenda.
"They have to go through their process. If they change anything, the Planning Commission has to have a hearing then they pass it onto the Select Board," Sumner said. "Then we have a hearing before it goes on to (annual) Town Meeting."
Repealing the zoning regulations had not been recommended by the commission when it was required to write a report about what that action would do prior to the August vote.
The bylaws "are not immutable," the document stated. The commission said ditching the regulations "altogether would sever the mechanism that allows Halifax to openly and fairly comply with the town plan." Also, the bylaws were meant to protect property owners.
Call Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273.