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.