The Canton Board of Selectmen has approved an ordinance to create a combined Planning and Zoning Commission.
The move came during the board’s meeting Wednesday night, which followed a public hearing on the issue. The ordinance dissolves the separate planning commission and zoning commission and creates the new one.
Selectmen have discussed the idea over the past several months but the issue goes back years.
Five members of the public spoke on the matter. While one expressed a few concerns, none opposed the idea. Most spoke strongly in favor of the change.
David Markowitz, a resident and land-use attorney, said
separate commissions have contributed to a longer process for developers, who have
to cover the cost for experts to appear at both meetings.
“It’s wasteful and this ordinance will eliminate that,” he
David Evens, a member of the planning commission, said there
would be a lot of merits and efficiencies to combining the commissions but said
the town should make sure that planning is kept in focus. He also suggested that
the combined commission should be perhaps initially have more members than suggested.
In a presentation at the beginning of the meeting, town planner Neil Pade said the idea is just one of numerous land-use activities currently taking place. Those include a rewrite of the town's zoning regulations and the update of the Plan of Conservation and Development. Selectmen have also discussed the possibility of adopting design standards and codes that would significantly change the land-use process.
Many of the changes are designed to create a more predictable and efficient process, Pade said.
The selectmen's vote accepted an ordinance that abolishes the two current commissions and creates a combined one.
The new commission will have seven members and three alternates.
Terms will be staggered.
With changes recommended by Chief Administrative Officer Robert Skinner the change will take effect Oct. 10. Selectmen could then appoint new members at its meeting on Oct. 9 to take effect the next day.