Tuesday April 2, 2013

GUILFORD -- Town officials are hoping for feedback on economic development, renewable energy, invasive species and other topics over the next few weeks.

In advance of revising the town plan, Guilford Planning Commission is mailing a 17-question survey to all residents. The questionnaire also is available online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/3XQTWLC.

Selectboard Chairman Dick Clark -- who serves as a liaison to the planning commission -- said he’s hoping residents take the opportunity seriously. Too often, Clark said, there is public interest in municipal planning only when a controversial issue arises.

"It would be nice to have that interest throughout this whole process," Clark said.

The town’s plan last was revised in 2010, and Vermont towns update their plans every five years. So officials say Guilford is in "mid-process" for the next update, and public input is needed.

That will happen in part through public meetings: Forums are scheduled for May 8 and 29 and June 5 and 12. All begin at 7 p.m. and will be held at Broad Brook Grange on Guilford Center Road.

Officials also are relying on the survey, which is due by April 15. Paper copies can be returned via mail or placed in drop boxes at the town office, grange or fire station.

In preparation for the 2010 plan revision, only about 10 percent of Guilford residents responded to such questions. So planning commission members are hoping for much better participation this time around.


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The document begins with several questions about economic development -- what types of development are appropriate, on what scale and where such activity should take place.

Residents also are asked to weigh in on "which sources of renewable energy should be encouraged" in Guilford and where renewable-energy facilities might be located.

Public transportation gets one question: The planning commission wants to know how many people might use public transit if it was accessible from the grange parking lot.

Clark said there’s a question of whether a "centrally located" bus service might make sense in Guilford. The answer depends in part on potential demand.

"That’s what we want to find out about," he said.

Invasive plants are another topic: Inquiries include whether residents have taken steps to control invasives and whether they "are aware of the potential impact invasive plants can have on the ecology and economics of Guilford."

"That’s something the conservation commission wanted to put in," Clark said. "It’s a joint effort."

The form also includes several emergency-management questions about shelters and generators.

Clark said the planning process has nothing to do with zoning, which has been rejected by town voters. Rather, planning commission members said their review is about "setting important policies relating to balancing public good with private rights and interests."

In an effort to encourage participation, officials expect to hand out five prizes to winners chosen from among those who fill out the survey. Clark said those prizes will include maple syrup and Guilford Fair tickets, among other items.

The current town plan is available at www.guilfordschool.org; click on the "town office" link and scroll down to find a link to the document.

Mike Faher can be reached at mfaher@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.