By Christopher Biddle
MOUNT HOLLY — At a public meeting on Monday, Feb. 8, Ed Bove, executive director of the Rutland Regional Planning Commission, met with members of the Mount Holly Planning Commission, Select Board Chair Ted Crawford, and about 15 Mount Holly residents, to facilitate the writing of a new town plan. The group appointed a four-person advisory council, discussed goals and policies to be included in the town plan, and devised a schedule for public meetings facilitated by Bove and that advisory council.
“We need a current document that reflects where the town is,” Bove told the Mountain Times. Solar siting, scenic and natural preservation, local control of schools, and the lack businesses in town were all raised as items of concern to be addressed in the new town plan. Mount Holly most recently re-wrote its plan in 2008 and updated it in 2013. While the next update isn’t due until 2018, Mount Holly Resident Annette Lynch indicated that changes in the political climate of both the town and state have made a new town plan a priority.
“It used to be that town plans were the kind of things that people wrote, put on the shelf and didn’t pay any attention to,” said Lynch, who also indicated that the state was requiring a higher level of specificity than in the past.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Mount Holly has a population of about 1,200 people, with 41.7 percent of homes owned by seasonal occupants. According to town officials, that number has risen to 52 percent as of 2015. Mount Holly resident David Hoe said that much of the conversation Monday night was about public involvement and having each sub-sect of the town and its priorities represented.
Ed Bove agreed, explaining that instead of the commonly understood idea of ‘two Vermonts,’ Mount Holly has something more like four or five. “The challenge for Mount Holly is probably very similar to the other 27 towns that we work with, which is trying to balance the wants of everyone, because not everyone wants the same thing,” Bove said.
Those differing parties will have to work together on the new town plan in order to unlock certain funding from the state and federal government. According to Bove, when approached for funding opportunities, organizations like Vtrans, the Vermont Community Development Program, and municipal funding programs will first access if the town has a regionally approved plan.
Bove said that he and the four-person advisory council will hold bi-weekly meetings to discuss and revise each chapter of the new town plan, Mondays at 7 p.m. at Mount Holly Town Office, and aired on LPCTV.