Plainfield Town Plan Update
Plainfield recently updated their town plan. The new version was adopted in February, 2014. The updated plan added a significant amount of conservation language throughout the document. Plainfield's vision statement directs the town to foster appreciation for Plainfield's natural resources. To ensure this goal, in addition to enhancing and strengthening the conservation language in the chapter on natural resources, critical conservation-oriented strategies and objectives were added to other chapters. The new strategies, most of which have a 1-3 year priority, impact protection of farmland and important natural resource areas, energy usage, land use planning, development regulations, storm water planning, and habitat connectivity. In an effort to incorporate these additions into community awareness and community values, the Conservation Commission continues to reach out to the public through public forums, the online Front Porch Forum, social media, and at town farmer's markets. By integrating conservation strategies in the town plan and increasing public support of these efforts, Plainfield hopes to maintain and protect their town's natural resources for the benefit of current and future generations.
Some of the more specific strategies outlined in the natural resource section of the new town plan are as follows: promote responsible recreational use of Plainfield's natural resources; adopt and implement a fluvial erosion and mitigation plan; identify possible wildlife corridors and protect specific road crossings; work with local schools to incorporate community service activities involving the protection and appreciation of the environment; develop trails and a timber management plan for the Town Forest; maintain habitat connectivity networks by managing development where habitat blocks are close to one another; and obtain an inventory and map of Plainfield's significant natural communities, prime agricultural soils, forest resources, significant wildlife habitat, habitat connectivity, floodplains, river corridors, water resources, and other features described in the town plan, and develop appropriate measures for their protection.
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One of the highest priority strategies highlighted in the town plan update was to implement a town level inventory of Plainfield's significant natural communities. The Select Board recently reviewed five proposals for the inventory and mapping of the town's natural resources and selected Brett Engstrom to carry out the project. One of Engstrom's first tasks involved meeting with townspeople who had particular knowledge about important natural resources in Plainfield. Once information is gathered from online sources and from these citizens, he will prioritize areas for ground-truthing. Landowners will be contacted for permission to confirm the natural resource presence. Another goal of this inventory is to understand what resources are valued by the community and what they envision their town to look like towards the future. This inventory is still in its beginning stages and more work, including additional ground work and winter tracking, will be completed over the next year. Once completed and synthesized, this inventory will highlight high priority conservation areas, and will guide future regulations for zoning and development and for the next town plan update.
Plainfield Conservation Commission
Plainfield Planning Commission
Plainfield Select Board
The Plainfield Community
Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission
Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development
Working collaboratively and finding common ground between the Plainfield Conservation Commission and Plainfield Planning Commission was critical to the town plan update. Public involvement and interest was also important to the success of the project. The assistance of the aforementioned project partners and many other state agencies, which generously provided helpful, current information about statewide and regional trends, planning, goals, and status of natural resources was also crucial to the success of this project. Central Vermont Regional Planning played an essential role in the re-writing process of the town plan. A municipal planning grant made the inventory project monetarily possible.
The previous town plan had lapsed and was not in effect during the new town plan rewrite. Thus, we lost opportunities for obtaining the grant money to conduct a town-wide inventory of significant natural communities before new zoning regulations were adopted. Additionally, creation of trust and good communication between stakeholders, so necessary for a meaningful updating of the town plan, was a very slow and lengthy process, requiring the persistence and dedication of all those involved.
Plainfield Town Plan