Select Board members want less restrictive bylaws
By Christian Avard
Staff Writer | June 08,2013
CHESTER — Two Select Board members do not want to tell landowners what they can and cannot do with their land.
Discussions over proposed bylaws changes continued at this week’s Select Board meeting. The Planning Commission is drafting new zoning regulations and is seeking feedback from the public.
Concerns were raised at the Select Board meeting over the R-3 district, which is set aside for lower-density neighborhoods. R-3 properties consist of three acres of land or more, but Select Board members wanted to ensure that landowners could subdivide their parcels, should they choose to do so.
Gary Rapanotti, a local land surveyor, said at a May 1 Select Board meeting that subdividing three acres of land could accommodate on-site septic systems and wells and may compromise water usage. Select Board Chairman John DeBenedetti raised Rapanotti’s observation at Wednesday’s Select Board meeting and said he hoped the new bylaws won’t restrict land use in R-3.
“If a landowner has room for septic and well service, I don’t want to take that ability away from him,” DeBenedetti said.
Select Board member Derek Suursoo agreed with DeBenedetti.
“The state is already driving the train tremendously. I don’t know if I need to make it more restrictive,” Suursoo said. “I’m very concerned about what the young people will do. This discourages people trying to start off.”
Planning Commission Chairman Thomas Bock said he understood the Select Board members’ concerns. He said the Planning Commission is not out to overregulate landowners, but they are also taking precautionary steps not to overdevelop low-density areas.
Bock said he will bring up the Select Board members’ concerns at the next Planning Commission meeting. R-3 is not the only district that residents raised concerns over.
The town is also considering changing the minimum lot size of 80,000 square feet in R-80 to three acres, or 130,680 square feet. A local resident advised against it, saying it would represent a 62 percent increase in size and would make it difficult to subdivide, sell and retain smaller lots to live on.
The local resident, Paul Dexter, suggested a letter to the Select Board last month that there be a minimum of two acres, or 87,120 square feet, that would represent a modest increase of 9 percent. The Planning Commission is also taking his suggestion into consideration.