Halifax zoning updates won't be ready for Town Meeting


HALIFAX -- With the proposed schist quarry on the minds of town officials, the Planning Commission decided to re-think its schedule for completing zoning updates after a suggestion from Windham Regional Commission Senior Planner John Bennett.

"We had a rather optimistic and aggressive schedule to get it all done over the course of summer," said Bennett. "There's no need to break our necks to complete it by the end of September when there are larger fish to fry at the moment."

The commission agreed to his suggestion at a joint meeting with the Selectboard on Aug. 12. The meeting's focus was mostly on making sure commission members knew how to address the Act 250 permitting process. The commission is an interested party for an upcoming hearing.

The original plan was to have zoning amendments completed by the end of December in order to make it onto the warrant for Town Meeting by January. In Halifax, voter approval is required for the amendments to be authorized.

Bennett was hired to assist the commission with the zoning updates through a municipal planning grant. He previously told the Reformer the changes would have to do with making sure the zoning accurately reflects what is in the Town Plan. The grant won't expire until May 2015.

Using WRC's limited core budget, Bennett said he was also hired to provide general guidance on the process and assisting with discussions around issues that may be of concern to the town in regards to the proposed quarry. The commission may have to consider a conditional use permit in upcoming months. No application was submitted yet.

A site visit is scheduled with District Environmental Commission representatives at Russell Denison's property for Sept. 9 at 5 p.m. According to Bennett, the Act 250 hearing will likely be recessed after the site visit and a continuation would then be scheduled.

The Selectboard and Planning Commission were expecting to discuss aspects of the Act 250 permit application as different aspects pertain to each as a town body. The commission is expected to determine whether the Act 250 permit application is in conformance with the Town Plan while the Selectboard acknowledged it would need to weigh in on the impact of roads.

WRC's transportation and maps and GSI departments are also assisting the town. A map was provided, containing a list of culverts en route to the proposed quarry site on Jacksonville Stage Road.

To complete a requested traffic study, traffic counting tubes were installed to determine volume as well as class of vehicles traveling the roads. A spreadsheet document was given to the town, showing the traffic counts.

"I think it was on a per hour basis over a week," Bennett said.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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