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A preview of Stockbridge Town Plan forum, May 14

STOCKBRIDGE - Continuing its efforts to update the town plan, the Stockbridge Planning Commission is holding a public forum on its progress.

The forum will be held on May 14 at the Stockbridge Central School starting at 7 p.m.

"Most towns have town plans, and the state requires us to look at the plan every five years," said Bill Edgerton, the planning commission chairman. "We've surveyed the residents and held a planning forum. Now it is time to share our initial conclusions and hear what people think."

Among the findings to be discussed is a proposal prohibiting new construction of primary structures (both residential and commercial) in the town's White and Tweed River floodplains, in order to better protect lives and property.

"We had an electric generating plant on the White River until the 1920s, and a number of homes were wiped out in the 1927 flood," Edgerton said. "Then came Irene. A number of homes will be grandfathered, and agriculture will be exempt."

Other proposals are to develop more of a town center and attract some retail, eliminating the business enterprise areas on Route 107 west of the town hall, and to create a mixed-use and light industrial zone near the Advanced Animations entertainment design company on Route 107.

Edgerton said the idea behind the proposals is to create more of a sense of a community for Stockbridge, and to create some local jobs.

"There's no village center in Stockbridge," he said. "We're a commuting community. Stockbridge residents have to go somewhere else for their jobs. We're looking for ways to create more opportunities right here."

Edgerton said Stockbridge has a lot to offer potential businesses and new residents.

"We're only eight or nine miles from Interstate 89, and we're in close proximity to Killington, and we're right on Route 100," he said.

Eliminating the business enterprise area, Edgerton said, would help preserve the area's rural character and keep a commercial strip from growing along Route 107. Another proposal bars primary retail development, except for restaurants, in the town's rural residential areas is also intended to prevent sprawl and control growth.

"We asked if any Dollar General-type stores would be welcome," Edgerton said, "and we got a loud 'no' on that one."
Edgerton said he was pleased by the strong community response the commission has received thus far.

"People are interested in their community, but other people have to ask," he said. "Here's a chance for the town to reflect what the community desires."

Once the changes are incorporated into the new town plan, Edgerton said there would be more public meetings and a revision of the local zoning by-laws. This should be done by January in time for voting in March.

"Asking these questions and gathering all this information really gets you asking what's important," he said.

Edgerton said he encourages all Stockbridge residents and property owners to attend the forum. For further information, Edgerton can be reached at 802-234-5106.