ATHENS -- The town's planning commission convened Wednesday morning to review notes made about the rough draft of the town plan and will meet with the Selectboard tonight to discuss its progress.
Athens has never had a town plan but needs one in order to apply for flood insurance, which town residents voted to do at a Town Meeting. The planning commission -- made up of Tim Stevenson, Sandi Capponcelli and Lois Sippel -- have created a rough draft of the document and have enlisted the help of Windham Regional Commission Executive Director Chris Campany, who made the notes to the rough draft.
Capponcelli explained a town plan "is basically a guideline to help a town in its growth" and is not associated with a town charter in any way or even legally required.
Campany told the Reformer he is providing only technical support to the planning commission, which does not need any approval from his organization. After leaving the meeting, he said he had simply suggested the planning commission revisit what the statutes say it has the authority to do and figure out what the population data of Athens means for the town in terms of economic development.
Stevenson said he is an advocate of a town plan because Athens needs a flood hazard bylaw. But he also is happy that his fellow citizens have responded to the task of drafting and passing a town plan.
"I think the people of the town have started to pick up on this (drafting a town plan) as well. It has the potential to initiate a lot of conversations, whether private or, better yet, public ... to talk about what they want and what they don't want," he said during the meeting at the Athens Town Office on Brookline Road.
He said the planning commission welcomes the assistance of the regional commission -- for all the experience and expertise it brings -- and it would be foolish not to met with anyone who could provide help.
Campany said there is no hard deadline for a final draft of the town plan and "the only thing that's driving them is them." He also said Capponcelli, Stevenson and Sippel have done an amazing job so far.
Capponcelli said she has no idea how long this process will take.
Today's discussion with the selectboard is slated to start at 6 p.m. at the Athens Town Office, prior to the regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the selectboard.
Domenic Poli can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.