On Sept. 25, the public will have the chance to weigh in on a proposal to combine the town's Planning and Zoning Commissions.
The town has drafted a proposed ordinance that abolished the separate commissions and creates a new, combined one.
In a meeting Wednesday, the Board of Selectmen decided to hold a public hearing rather than a town meeting on the issue. The board could vote on the matter during its meeting following the hearing.
The new commission would consist of 7 members and three alternates with staggered terms.
In a memo to selectmen, Chief Administrative Officer recommended that the action should take place prior to December when the town's draft Plan of Conservation and Development is submitted to selectmen.
Selectmen would appoint members to the new commission, which would likely have members that currently serve on one of the two separate groups.
The public hearing will take place at 7 p.m. Sept. 25 at the Community center. The Board of Selectmen meeting will follow.
See more on officials' philosophy in combining the commissions in this earlier story.
Also Wednesday, selectmen voted to have town staff work on a draft Request for Proposal for a firm to come in and adopt market tested design standards, "form based codes" and/or village districts for parts of Route 44 and Collinsville. The move is the first step in what could eventually dramatically change the land-use process in town. Under such a systems, many applications could be approved rapidly as long as they meet the adopted standards. In many towns, such standards emphasize design, use of space and aesthetics over specific uses.
Advocates say it takes out the guesswork for developers and protects the town in the process. Critics, however, said people lose the right to speak out on individual plans at the time they are proposed.
Getting to such a system would involve an intensive input and consultation process, estimated to cost between $80,000 and $150,000. The town believes a current $20,000 grant for multi-use regulations could be used toward that and that other grant opportunities may exist.
The town has proposed the following timeline for
Oct. 2013 - RFP (request for proposal) developed
Nov. 2013 - RFP published
Dec. 2013 to Jan. 2014 — RFP respondents interviewed and rated
Jan. 2014 — Budget determined
Feb. 2014 — Town Meeting to Approve Funding
April to May 2014 — Public Participation
May to Aug. 2014 — Draft Standards and Regulations
Aug. to Nov. 2014 — Propose Standards and Regulations Reviewed by Land Use Agencies/possible approval
Dec. 2013 — Possible rescinding of the Design Review Team
For more on land use see earlier Patch stories, including this one.