Message from Dave Horn - PIC Committee

Post date: Sep 12, 2018 3:07:14 PM


The first settler came to New Vineyard in 1790. My ancestor, Solomon Luce, came in 1794 and my family has owned land in New Vineyard continuously since then. The Town has survived for well over 200 years without a Land Use Ordinance, which I’ll refer to as “LUO” and a Site Plan Review Ordinance, which I’ll refer to as “SPRO”. So why does the Town need them now? Well, “times are changing” as Bob Dylan might say. Constantly changing technology is a huge part of it. More and more people living in rural areas now have internet services and can work remotely. That, together with an increasing population in the United States looking for a less stressful lifestyle and less expensive land will push population to rural areas like New Vineyard. This means increasing pressure on the land and its uses.The LUO and the SPRO are designed to address that pressure. The ordinances are also designed to be responsive to: (a) the wish of the town’s citizens that New Vineyard remain primarily a rural area; (b) the town’s varied topography which present development issues; and (c) the objective of providing a responsible pathway for future development instead of an ad hoc approach.

The LUO addresses issues that arise from land use that could:

1. impact the health, safety, welfare, etc of the Town’s present and future citizens in a negative way. An example of this is requiring 40,000 sq. ft lots for new development because of construction issues related to New Vineyard’s steep slopes, poor soils, and resource protection areas.

2. impact the Town’s primarily rural character in an adverse way. The LUO does this by dividing the Town into 5 different areas and specifying uses allowed in each one. For example, while a single family dwelling would be allowed in a resource protection area subject to certain conditions, a light industrial structure would not be allowed.

3. impact the Town’s natural resources from unacceptable adverse impacts and disturbances. The LUO is also designed to integrate new development harmoniously into the Town’s natural environment; and

4. impact property rights and values negatively. The LUO does this by adopting land use practices that are respectful of all landowners. Most home owners would likely be unhappy to have their neighbour build a dump next door, which would very likely result in their properties’ values being depressed. The LUO prevents this from happening.

In addition, the LUO establishes procedures to insure that land use decisions made by the Planning Board are reviewed against fair and reasonable standards and in the event a landowner disagrees with a decision, an appeals process has been established. IT ALSO “GRANDFATHERS” ALL CURRENT LOTS AND USES.

The drafters of the LUO have attempted to balance both the collective rights of the Town’s landowners and an individual’s freedom to use their property relatively unfettered. They’ve listened to a lot of comments. I’ve been involved with this process and I can say that a lot of thought has been put into addressing the comments and the balance issue.

The SPRO’s purposes are much the same as the LUC except it is only applicable to new development of commercial, industrial, educational, institutional and government uses in New Vineyard. IT DOES NOT APPLY TO RESIDENTIAL USES, WHICH INCLUDES HOME OCCUPATIONS and therefore likely will not effect many of New Vineyard’s citizens.

The SPRO describes the pre-application and application process, specifies standards for construction like adequate solid waste disposal, parking, etc. In essence it is designed to ensure that non-residential development is done correctly. Most non-residential developers will be intimately familiar with processes and standards similar to those found in the SPRO. There is also a process for landowner appeals. The LUO and the SPRO are obviously closely linked.

Another reason that New Vineyard needs both ordinances is that they are an integral part of implementing the Town’s approved comprehensive plan. If the plan is not implemented you do not really have a comprehensive plan and a pathway for future development. Most of the grant programs provided by the State and it’s agencies require a municipality to have a comprehensive plan as an incentive to get grants for municipal purposes. New Vineyard has benefited from grants in the past which allowed for the construction of deep wells and septic systems in the 1990’s and more recently, the library. New Vineyard is a town with limited tax revenues, declining State reimbursements, a substantial school commitment, and considerable current operating expenses. An aggressive approach to securing grants would be a big help on capital intensive projects identified in the comprehensive plan such as an adequate water supply for the fire department, a dam at the outlet of the Mill Pond to stabilize and raise water levels in the Mill and Lilly Ponds before there is just a stream in these areas, a park, a recreational facility for children, and the list goes on.

I think the reasons referred to above make a compelling case for New Vineyard to have the LUO and the SPRO in place. Times are changing irrespective of whether we like or not. The Selectmen have also been involved with the development of both ordinances and recommend a “yes” vote at a Special Town Meeting in the early fall. I also urge you to vote “yes” too. These ordinances are important for the future development and management of New Vineyard.

Dave Horn