"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."
-- Will Rogers
The Fairfax Town Plan represents the effort of many people in the community over a period of many years. This effort should not be wasted by shelving the Plan upon its completion. Rather, the Plan should be used as a vehicle - for comprehensive, lasting change where desired, and as a tool for preservation when negative change is unwanted.
The Plan is adopted by the Select Board subsequent to public hearings required under Act 200. The Plan, once adopted, remains in effect for five years, though many initiatives within the Plan may be longer lasting.
If desired, the Select Board may submit the adopted Plan to the Northwest Regional Planning Commission for regional approval. Regional approval is optional and voluntary, and the plan may still be implemented locally without it. Obtaining regional approval does, however, afford the Town with a greater measure of local control. Regional approval enables the town to levy impact fees, and requires that other plans (including local, regional, and state plans) be in conformance with the Town Plan. The Town Plan also provides a basis for local participation in regional and state regulatory proceedings (including Act 250), and other planning efforts. In addition, regional approval makes the Town eligible to receive municipal planning funds, and may assist in obtaining State funding for needed infrastructure and improvements.
The plan is compatible with development trends and plans for adjacent municipalities and the region developed under Title 24 of the Vermont Statutes.
The majority of policies outlined in the Fairfax Town Plan will be implemented through the Zoning Bylaw. Laying a firm foundation for implementation of these policies will necessitate major changes in the existing bylaw, which does not adequately provide for the exercise of many concepts and actions that the Plan puts forth. Without these changes, the Plan will not likely come fully to its fruition as a living document for the translation of community vision into community action.
Specific tools enabled under state statute (which may be included in the Zoning Bylaw and/or Subdivision Review regulations) which can be used to implement the Town Plan include expanded site plan review, conditional use criteria, performance standards, overlay districting, PRD's and PUD's, buffering and setback requirements, impact fee ordinances, and special assessment districts. All or some of these tools may be appropriate for use in implementing the Fairfax Town Plan.
Another important tool for Plan implementation in Fairfax (mentioned throughout the Plan) will be the use of capital budgeting to plan ahead for future municipal expenditures. The capital budget enables the Town to raise revenue for anticipated needs before they become urgent, rather than relying on "Band-Aid" remedies each time an urgent need arises.
Capital budgeting in Fairfax has already been and will continue to be extremely useful in planning future expansions and improvements to Town water and sewer systems once the growth center begins to take shape. Continued effort should be made to secure funding for municipal water and sewer system improvements.
Additionally, road maintenance and improvements, traditionally subject to
the "Band-Aid" fixes mentioned, could be better planned for utilizing capital budgeting. The pursuit of a better road management system to identify needed improvements, and the costs associated with different treatment options, would greatly benefit the Town in this regard. A Road Surface Management System assessment of present road conditions should be
undertaken continued, and the Town should seek funding from through and assistance from the Northwest Regional Planning Commission for this purpose.
Once adopted, successful implementation of the Plan will require a concerted effort between the Planning Commission, Select Board,
Zoning Board of Adjustment development review board, local officials, and town residents.