Over the past six months, the Fletcher Planning Commission has been working to complete an update of the “Fletcher Town Plan 2019-2027.” This effort is part of a continuing planning process that guides the Town’s decisions for future growth. The planning process conforms to the State’s four planning goals of Chapter 117, Section 4302, which strive for a comprehensive planning process that includes citizen participation, the consideration for the consequences of growth, and compatibility with surrounding municipalities and encouragement of municipalities to work creatively together to develop and implement plans.
The current Fletcher Town Plan expired on December 16, 2018. The plan update focuses on the following: consolidation of duplicate goals and policies, an update of demographic information, an update of all maps, the addition of language pertaining to the forest integrity and the flood resiliency goals and elements required by state statue, and the incorporation of an enhanced energy plan in conformance with the requirements of 24 V.S.A. §4352. The Fletcher Town Plan 2019-2027 will replace the expired 2013 Fletcher Town Plan.
The plan update does alter the designation of land area in Fletcher by including maps that are required to be included in the enhanced energy plan. In accordance with 24 V.S.A. §4 384, the following is a summary of the alternation of the designation of land and its impacts on Fletcher.
The enhanced energy planning maps, and language associated with the maps, will help the Town, developers, and the Vermont Public Utility Commission understand where future renewable energy facilities may or may not be sited in the community. The solar and wind maps in the Energy Chapter, in particularly, alter the designation of land. These maps designate three areas: “Prime” areas where there is potential for solar or wind electricity generation, and which do not contain any known “constraints” that may restrict the development of a future renewable energy facility. “Base” areas have also been identified. ”Base” areas may have potential for future renewable energy generation, but also may contain a “secondary constraint,” a natural resource designated for protection that could limit future development of renewable energy facilities. Lastly, the remaining areas on the map either do not contain any resource potential and/or include a “known” constraint, an area that likely contains a natural resource that shall be protected from all future development of renewable energy facilities.
Since the energy maps affect the entire Town, it is not possible to definitively determine the effect of the proposed change in the designation of land on a specific “surrounding area.” The proposed change in the designation of land will not increase traffic. The proposed change in the designation of land will have positive long-term benefits to the municipality based on the possible creation of additional municipal tax base when renewable energy facilities are created and little to no need for additional public facilities. The amount of land which is subject to the change in the designation of land includes the entire municipality since the maps created are based on a data and methodology that includes the whole municipality. This is regardless of whether or not the land is currently considered vacant (or occupied). The suitability of the areas that have been designated is based on the methodology explained in the preceding paragraph which takes into consideration appropriate alternative locations, alternatives uses for the area under consideration, and the probable impact of the proposed change on other areas similarly designated. The proposed size and boundaries of the areas designated as “prime” or “base” are appropriate with respect to the proposed use of such areas, the land capability of these areas, which is based on the best available data regarding solar and wind electricity generation potential and location of natural resource “constraints,” and the existing development in the area.
The Fletcher Municipal Plan includes 9 chapters and 3 appendices: Chapter 1. The Planning Process, Chapter 2. Community Profile, Chapter 3. Natural and Cultural Resources, Chapter 4. Housing, Chapter 5 Economic Development, Chapter 6. Transportation, Chapter 7. Energy, Chapter 8. Facilities and Services, Chapter 9. Land Use, Appendix A. Historic and Cultural Resources, Appendix B. Geology and Earth Resources, and Appendix C. Work Program. These chapters are consistent with the 14 goals established in Chapter 117, Section 4302. These goals aim to: maintain the historic settlement pattern of compact village centers separated by rural countryside; provide a strong and diverse economy with rewarding job opportunities; broaden access to educational and vocational training opportunities for people of all ages; provide for safe, convenient, economic, and energy efficient transportation systems; to identify, protect, and preserve important natural and historic resources; to maintain and improve the quality of air, water, wildlife, and land resources; to encourage the efficient use of energy and development of renewable energy resources; to maintain and enhance recreational opportunities; to encourage and strengthen agricultural and forest industries; to provide for the wise and efficient use of natural resources; to ensure the availability of safe and affordable housing; to plan for, finance, and provide an efficient system of public facilities and services; and to ensure the availability of safe and affordable childcare. The chapters also contain all 12 required elements for a municipal plan established in Title 24, Chapter 11, Section 4382.
Fletcher’s Development Regulations are based on the information compiled and the goals expressed within the Town Plan. Fletcher Planning Commission members have spent many hours discussing and compiling this document and would sincerely like to receive your feedback.