STOCKBRIDGE—Stockbridge residents are invited to attend a public hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. at the Stockbridge Central School to hear about the town’s new five-year town plan and to provide their views and perspectives to the planning commission. After the hearing, the commission will have the option to amend the draft plan if appropriate and forward it to the selectboard, who will hold a separate hearing and later vote on the plan’s adoption.
A town plan provides a vision for the future, particularly for land use. The overarching goal of the plan is to provide Stockbridge with a policy platform that allows the town to adapt to changing conditions while maintaining the rural character of the town.
The planning commission has been updating the town plan for the past two years. The commission has sought the input of Stockbridge residents through citizen interviews, consultations with the selectboard, two community planning forums, and a town-wide resident survey, in which almost half the town’s households participated and showed a strong consensus on most issues. The draft plan reflects the major thrusts of these inputs.
Some highlights of the draft plan include:
Prohibiting new development in 100-year flood hazard area for the White and Tweed Rivers to enhance public safety and lessen storm-related relief costs. Minor expansion of current structures would be allowed and agricultural uses would be exempt.
Continuing the town’s two Village Areas—Stockbridge Common and Gaysville.
Creating a Hamlet Area around the Central School to attract primary retail businesses and encourage creation of a central town focal point.
Creating a Mixed Use/Light Industrial Area around Advanced Animations to encourage job-creating light industries and secondary retail development.
Eliminating two current Business Development Areas (along Route 100) and prohibiting primary retail, as in the town’s Rural Residential Area, in an effort to deter strip development while protecting the town’s rural character. Secondary retail would continue to be encouraged.
Support for family-friendly policies and programs provided that they do not put an undue burden on the capacity of the town to provide educational services.
Support for the continuance of Stockbridge Central School unless a viable alternative becomes available offering high quality educational opportunities at clearly lower costs.
Support for “school choice” unless a viable alternative becomes available offering high quality educational opportunities at clearly lower costs.
School board engagement in long-range capital planning with the assistance of the Supervisory Union.
Conservation and more
Other highlights include the creation of a conservation commission and an energy committee and/or volunteer energy coordinator to advance the town’s conservation and energy goals and opportunities. The plan also calls for maintaining a strong town emergency management capability and the creation of a joint selectboard/planning commission effort to strengthen the town’s capital budgeting program to guide future infrastructure investments.