Ludlow Planning Commission survey discussion

Ludlow. Photo by Shawntae Webb.

LUDLOW, Vt. – The Ludlow Planning Commission discussed the public outreach survey they are setting up for the municipal planning grant at their Feb. 21 meeting. The municipal planning grant encourages towns to look how they can update their zoning by-laws to facilitate the development of more housing. Board Chair Terry Carter worked with members of Mount Ascutney Regional Commission (MARC) before the meeting and came with a number of possible survey questions prepared.

A handful of citizens were present at the meeting and eager to speak. The Pettigrew Inn was cited again for not running as the inn it claims to be, and disrupting the surrounding neighbors. Citizen Eric Alden spoke at the meeting, repeating sentiments he’s stated before, that the planning commission is the most important board of any town. He reminded the board and citizens that they only meet for 18 hours total every year, “you could meet for 218 hours a year, and still not get done what needs to get done.” Citizen George Tucker asked everyone to think about what they want Ludlow to look like in 10 years, mentioning that zoning regulations are always playing catch up.

The board members reviewed the questions proposed by Carter, many of them were designed for people looking for housing. Board member Andrea Goldman asked if the survey could only deal with housing, or if they could put other topics around it. She expressed her feeling that the survey should be more broad and really allow people to talk about what they want. Martha Harrison, from MARC, told her that while it can have other things in it, the main focus should be housing. It was mentioned how a broad survey was already done in 2018 when creating the town plan. Member Ryan Silvestri thought the board should really ask citizens how they want to see the town grow. He suggested questions that ask how residents would feel about specific improvements or changes, such as a parking garage in town, or raising the building height in the village. Citizen Steve Meyers told the board that they work for Ludlow, not Okemo, and that time should be spent making housing for citizens, not the mountain.

The board discussed the target audience of the survey, with Carter wanting to specifically target employers and employees from the village. Silvestri and Goldman felt this would artificially shrink the pool of people taking the survey, and would require immense work. They suggested the survey be much more open, simply asking a person to describe themself at the beginning. Silvestri felt this allowed anyone “with a stake in Ludlow” to give their opinion, as well as helping them sort the data after the survey.

Carter and Goldman agreed to meet with members of MARC before the next meeting to batten down the survey questions. The board will finalize the survey at the next meeting.

Citizen Jean Strong mentioned that the village trustees must approve all of these changes that are being made, and that that does not always happen. She expressed the need for more public support at those meetings. Goldman agreed that when it comes time to approve the changes they’ve worked on not as many people come as they hope. The board explained that the trustees asked to receive all changes for the grant at once, rather than continually approving little changes. Citizens expressed their concern for this, as so much with housing has changed in the past year, they do not want to see how much more would change before these changes are approved. The board said they could ask the trustees to approve certain changes ahead of time.

The Ludlow Planning Commission meets on the third Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m. in the Ludlow Town Hall. The next meeting will take place on Tuesday, March 21.

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