Town Plan 2024
Town Plan 2024 is underway!
What is a town plan?
The Town Plan is a visionary, guiding document that sets goals for the Town for the next 8 years. Once adopted, a Town Plan is used to update zoning and subdivision regulations, seek grants, and set work plans for municipal departments, boards, commissions, and committees.
The Essex Planning Commission held a public hearing for the Town Plan on November 16, 2023. The Selectboard held its first public hearing on December 18, 2023, and second on January 8, 2024. The Selectboard finalized the draft and will be sending it to voters. The vote will be by Australian ballot on Town Meeting Day, March 5, 2024.
Work on the 2024 Town Plan began in the summer of 2022. At the start of the process, the Planning Commission made the decision to work collaboratively with the other Town boards and committees on developing this Town Plan. As a result, various working together groups wrote the different sections of the Town Plan. The Essex Community had many opportunities to weigh in on the vision and direction of the Town Plan. In particular, in January 2023, the “Town Plan Working Group,” consisting of Planning Commissioner Joshua Knox, and members from many of the other Town boards and committees held listening sessions throughout Essex with residents and businesspeople. They came together to offer their thoughts on what the Town of Essex can be, and ways in which to continue building a community that is connected, diverse, inclusive, sustainable, and a joy to live in*.
The overall themes noted above were expressed across a variety of categories and topics in different ways:
- For example, in the realm of Development, residents named affordable housing as a top priority. It is important to note, however, that residents wanted the development review process to consider the broader impacts of development on the community as a whole, as well as to pay attention to the aesthetics of development.
- In the realm of Economic Development specifically, the community emphasis was on creating and sustaining a variety of local businesses.
- With respect to Conservation and Climate and Agriculture, residents sought to preserve a sustainable working landscape that could provide both food security for all and economic diversity, as well as to preserve and promote biodiversity in those truly undeveloped parts of town. Both were seen as bulwarks against climate change, and residents expressed a preference for both regulations and so-called green incentives to bring this about. In addition, conservation was also seen as meaning the preservation of open space and scenic views.
- When it comes to Infrastructure, the generalized desire for connectivity was strongly expressed as a desire for infrastructure that supports bicycle and pedestrian connectivity. There were also concerns about lack of car connectivity and attendant travel times.
- Regarding Recreation, the common theme was “opportunities,” which can be taken to mean either an increase in the number of opportunities for recreation - such as more connections between trails in the town - or simply highlighting the current opportunities, such as Sand Hill Park or Saxon Hill. Whether that means more programs or more recreation space, townspeople want more opportunities to recreate in Essex.
Wordclouds showing the key themes are in the town plan and can be viewed below. Click on the image to view a larger image:
Town Plan Maps:
Map 1: Future Land Use
Map 2: Areas for Commercial Development
Map 3: Existing and Proposed Footpath Network
Map 4: Existing and Proposed Bicycle Network
Map 5: Transportation by Classification
Map 6: Community Facilities
Map 7: Slope
Map 8: Contours
Map 9: Soils
Map 10: Bedrock Geology
Map 11: Water Resources
Map 12 Forest Blocks and Habitat Connectors
Map 13: Scenic Resources
Map 14: Historic Sites
Map 15: Planning Areas and Neighborhoods
Map 16: Official Zoning Map
Map 17: Parks and Recreation
Map 18: Horseback Network
Map 19: Cross Country Ski Network
Map 20: Snowmobile Network
Map 21: Water and Sewer Service Areas
Map 22: Utilities