DOVER -- Although it will still need to be approved by the Selectboard in 30 days at the earliest, the town plan was readopted by the Planning Commission.
On Jan. 7, there was a public hearing to discuss the plan that had expired in October. No proposals for changing it in any way were discussed.
At a Dover Selectboard meeting that followed the plan's expiration, Planning Commission Chairman Nicolas Wallaert had apologized to the board.
"We should have done it much earlier," he said.
During the hearing, resident Buzzy Buswell asked how the commission was approaching the Dover Watch units, which the town acquired through foreclosure. Wallaert said the commission had advised by the town's attorney Bob Fisher that lawyers representing Dover Watch should present the town with a proposition.
After a brief discussion, it was stated that this issue should be presented to the commission before the next town plan is adopted.
Town plans must be updated or readopted every five years. Without having a town plan, Dover could have missed out on potential grant opportunities because many grants require that a town have an up-to-date plan in place. It also could have created issues for applicants seeking Act 250 permits.
Windham Regional Planning Commission Senior Planner John Bennett told the Reformer that this type of situation has occurred in many other local towns in the past.
"It's not a unique circumstance for Dover," he said. "Towns sort of lose sight of the fact that their plan is going to expire. Then they also lose sight of the fact that even to essentially readopt an existing plan, you still need to go through procedural requirements."
The Planning Commission hearing, which occurred during a regularly scheduled Selectboard meeting, must be warned by a mailing to abutting towns 30 days beforehand. After the commission has its hearing and enters its potential changes, the draft is handed to the Selectboard. The board is then required to have its own hearing.
"That's a two month minimum adoption process," Bennett added.
Statute says there must be no less than 30 days and no more than 120 days between the two hearings.
Selectboard member Victoria Capitani had asked if the readopted plan could be overridden once the new plan was ready, which it could.
According to Bennett, the Planning Commission was working on a draft of a new plan last summer.
"We're still working on the new one. We have some nitty gritty to look into and we have to finish the chapter about economic development," said Wallaert.
The commission will consult the town's Economic Development Specialist Ken Black for assistance.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.