To the editor: Urge Chester Planners to consider public input

Letters-to-the-editor-logo-3To the residents of Chester, the town’s Planning Commission is continuing its consideration of proposed changes to the Unified Development Bylaws which are comprised of the zoning, subdivision and flood hazard regulations. The next meeting  will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 20 at the Town Hall, 556 Elm St.

Of concern to some residents in attendance at the last two public meetings is the addition of uses in all zoning districts, including in residential districts. For example, Private Broadcast Facilities will be permitted uses in all zoning districts, including in the Village Center, Stone Village and in all of the residential zones. It is unclear in the proposed bylaws what is meant by this.

Building and construction trades, including “masonry, roofing and building foundations” are added in all districts. This means that in your residential neighborhood, your neighbor could stack his or her materials next door, as well as store the heavy equipment necessary for his or her business on the lawn.

Also added are uses removed the last time the bylaws were reviewed. This means that Heavy Construction Trades, Sawmills, and Commercial Broadcast Facilities will once again be considered conditional uses in some residential districts, including in districts with minimum lot sizes smaller than 1 acre.

Commercial Wood Processing is new to the bylaws and being proposed as a Conditional Use in five of the districts. Clearly, the Planning Commission has put considerable time and effort into its work, and we appreciate their efforts. We wonder, however, why the commission is rushing to approve these changes, especially since the bylaws were last updated less than two years ago.

At its next meeting, the Planning Commission will vote on whether it should give further consideration to the addition of these uses in the various districts. We encourage the commission to do so. We think it’s important to reflect on the public input and ensure that its recommendations to the Select Board reflect the best interests of all of the residents of Chester and preserve the rural character and beauty of our town.

Marilyn Mahusky

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  1. Mary Jane says:

    There has been no rush to push the zoning changes. It is following the many meetings the planning commission has warned about over the past year that anyone could have attended to have input.

    These meetings have been reported in The Telegraph. Also the meetings have all been warned appropriately and were open meetings thus far. Please remember “conditional uses” are looked at on an individual bases they are not simply granted, must pass certain “conditions” for each site and use and are open to public opinion as well.

    In regard to uses that have been returned to the zoning bylaws, the process must have worked or we would have been inundated for years with those potential conditions anywhere. Input should always include the towns people, opportunities have been there to do so and continue to be there for anyone to attend and have input.

    Panic is not necessary. Be aware of the meetings, attend and before anyone panics read the definitions of “conditional vs permitted” uses before people get excessively excited. Then please do provide your input if anything particularly affects you.