2007-12-20 / News

Conservationists say zoning work fails to consider environmental matters

By Dotti Farrington

Conservation Commissioners are working to obtain more active roles in at least two major town projects. They want to have a direct advisory role about environmental matters pertaining to zoning and the study of windmills as an alternative energy source.

Conservationists said at their meeting last week that they are concerned there has not been enough environmental input into the zoning work, but they emphasized that they support the principles and goals of the work. Commissioners said that some town officials and residents have misunderstood their efforts to work on form-based zoning. They said the commission's goals have been misinterpreted by some as commissioners disapproving the zoning principles.

Form-based zoning has been a major approach discussed as part of the charrettes, the collaborative public planning workshops conducted in recent months to determine what zoning is needed to provide for village and overall island development in coming years.

Conservationists said they do not want to superimpose themselves on the zoning aspects of the work, but they do want an official role in providing environmental information that could affect, or be affected by, any zoning changes that result.

The commissioners are looking to arrange a meeting with Town Planner Lisa Bryer to discuss their concerns, and to work cooperatively with her and other town officials as they prepare proposals to be presented to the Town Council and townspeople for adoption. The commissioners said their input now, rather than after proposals are drafted, would be more meaningful and effective. They said collaborating on the zoning would enable them to promote and advocate for it.

Wind energy

Conservationists also reviewed the request for qualifications issued by the town for a wind power feasibility study. They noted some omissions that were of concern to them. They said the study outline recognizes windmill implications involving birds, but not bats that could be as involved. They said the proposal outline provides for on-going consultation with various town groups, including recreation, but is notable for its omission of consultation with conservation.

The commissioners said they would seek a joint meeting with the wind energy committee in January to share information that would be appropriate.

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