• ECHO Action Editor

Wilton Planning Board discusses "benefit to the community", new insights gained

Wilton Planning Board Meeting – June 7th, 2017

Impressions and Results

My invitation to attend the Wilton Planning Board Meeting arose after I emailed the chair of the board, Sarah Spittell, a copy of my letter to the editor of the Keene Sentinel.

In that letter I expressed my dismay that the Keene Planning Board had no discretionary authority regarding approval of projects. This was addressed in the context of Liberty Utility’s application for developing and installing a temporary, then permanent Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) charging station.

During the public testimony portion of that meeting, speakers were admonished several times that the planning board was required by law to approve an application regardless of “whether it is for a single-family home or a multi-million dollar project” if the application met the city’s 19 standards.

I asked Sarah if the Wilton Planning Board’s hands were equally tied by law, and she invited me to attend a meeting and explore ideas. At the meeting, I introduced myself, thanked the board for their time, and provided the brief overview above to explain why I was there. I added that I hoped that there might be some way that the planning board might be able to create or adopt a standard that would require an application to demonstrate adherence to the principles or tenets of the town’s master plan, and that the master plan could be amended to include sustainable energy policies and practices.

During the conversation generated by the topics, I received a bit of an education. I came to understand that the Town’s master plan is not a legally binding document, and cannot be used as the basis for law. The zoning laws as administered by the state and implemented locally have limited scope, and are aimed more at creating a process that allows rather than restricts.

While I felt a sense of support from the planning board, that support that was essentially undermined by the fact that members of the Wilton planning board are, like Keene, constrained by law.

The morning after the meeting I was contacted by the Chair of the Wilton Conservation Commission and informed that there was an opening on the commission. I was also informed that State Representative Carol Roberts would not be serving again, and that I might consider running for the position. Food for thought, there.

This is a follow up article to Keene Planning Board needs a benefit to the community standard

#ChrisBalch #KeeneGasPlant


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