To the editor: Planning Commission becoming business friendly

I’d like to comment here that our Planning Commission, particularly our Planning Commission subcommittee, has had a productive year for the betterment of the business community. So much so that they are hard to keep up with, even if one is doing his or her best to pay attention.

For the better part of a decade our bylaws grew, to the point where expert consultation was solicited. She imparted her hors-d’œuvre tray of copy/paste offerings from whatever major metropolis with our tax dollars, aimed at our community’s businesses. The end result was a less than functional document rife with details such as a bike rack required for every business and apartment house.

This was just one example of many why the proposed bylaws are not business-friendly, and why they need to be gone through page-by-page if not line-by-line to become functional and business-friendly again. We’re lucky to have acquired a tenured zoning administrator, who, in our 2021 town report, states a full rewrite is on the table.

Of note on what was business-friendly this last year was the 6-point plan presented by Planning Commission subcommittee members Cathy Hasbrouck, Peter Hudkins, and Preston Bristow (our new ZA) in August of 2021. Highlights are fewer permits via DRB process, a non-technical site plan review, easing of parking requirements, allowing micro or boutique shops, fewer nonconformities via legacy businesses, and mixed use of businesses with apartments.

In addition to all of this, larger infrastructure issues of water and sewer, electrical power and local gravel resources are being addressed. They further pursued the higher authority of the Regional Planning Commission chair to undo the damage done by the hired consultant. They are in the process of creating a Village Green district, and loosening restraints for businesses there. There are also a number of public workshops on the table that a local business could attend. Housing and parking studies have been pursued, with the prospect of public parking behind the Green. The icing on the cake are potential grants on the horizon for much of this.

In a nutshell, these few have had a very productive year, and they should be applauded for their efforts.

If you’re a Chester resident and/or business you want these folks to continue in this direction, and you want to talk to your Chester Select Board members about having them do so. They’re pulling for us. They’ve done a complete turnabout for the benefit of local business and taxpayers. As some seats are up, reappointments instead of a reshuffle would be prudent toward continuing down this business-friendly trail they’ve taken.

Take a moment and let them know your thoughts here.

It’s your town, too!
Steve Mancuso

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