Document

Londonderry Town Plan

Culminating three years of study, the Planning Commission of Londonderry (VT) revised Londonderry's Town Plan to prohibit industrial wind turbines on Glebe Mountain. The revised Town Plan was submitted to the Londonderry Select Board on August 30, 2005 and approved by the Select Board on October 5, 2005. Included here are selected themes and extracts from Londonderry's Town Plan.

Londonderry Planning Commission’s Recommendations: Themes

(1)Land Use... Londonderry residents and property owners have overwhelmingly stated a desire that the Town maintain its rural character…... Maintaining rural character includes preserving farmlands, woodlands, undeveloped open space, natural stream banks and lake/pond shorelines, and ridgelines together with supporting land-based and outdoor activities and concentrating growth in specified growth centers.

(2)Economy...Require that commercial development be oriented toward positive community growth, favoring businesses that consider, respect and respond to identified community values.

(3)Natural Resources & Land Conservation...The Town’s clean air and water and pleasing mountain and valley vistas are recognized as critically important resources. Indeed, the Town’s landscape is defined by wooded hillsides and undeveloped ridgelines and shore land. The welfare of the Town depends on protecting such resources, particularly the mountain and valley vistas and the wooded and undeveloped ridgelines, particularly on such prominent hillsides as Glebe Mountain, that attract so many residents and visitors. If Londonderry does not protect such vistas, wooded hillsides and undeveloped ridgelines, property values in the Town will decline, harming current landowners and so the Town’s tax base, and well paying jobs serving the needs of residents and visitors will be lost as those people are attracted elsewhere.

(4)Scenic Areas...The rural character of Londonderry is composed of a scenic natural landscape with traditional New England settlement patterns and architectural designs that are of critical importance to the community's identity.

(5)Energy/Wind Power...In Londonderry these potential impacts include

*aesthetic impacts associated with facility siting in highly visible, high elevation areas;

*wildlife impacts including direct impacts and secondary impacts, such as habitat fragmentation and disturbance

*impacts to significant natural or cultural features in the vicinity

*water quality impacts associated with development located at high elevations and on steep slopes and shallow soils;

*quality of life and health impacts related to noise and lighting;

*surface water runoff and soil erosion associated with site clearing and development, including road access;

*safety hazardds associated with blade speed, breakage and ice throw;

*economic impacts associated with potential for diminished real estate values and regional tourism

*and insignificant community benefit from such facilities.

Selected Extracts from the Londonderry Town Plan:

The following are selected extracts from the Londonderry Town Plan, Proposed Amendments dated July 2005, as revised by the Planning Commission and submitted to the Select Board August 30, 2005.

LAND USE

Lines 347-356

Londonderry residents and property owners have overwhelmingly stated a desire that the Town maintain its rural character while seeking to develop additional and better paying employment opportunities. To this end, the Town’s Land Use Goals, Plan and Regulations should seek the best possible approaches to provide for responsible economic health while maintaining the rural character of the Town. Maintaining rural character includes preserving farmlands, woodlands, undeveloped open space, natural stream banks and lake/pond shorelines, and ridgelines together with supporting land-based and outdoor activities and concentrating growth in specified growth centers.

Lines 482-486

Resource Conservation (RC) Overlay District. The purpose of the Resource Conservation Overlay District is to protect significant forest and scenic resources, sensitive headwater streams and wildlife habitat at higher elevations and to prevent development on ridgelines, steep slopes, and shallow soils and in areas with poor access to public roads, municipal services and commercial centers.

Lines 502-527

Policies

-Encourage land use that is consistent with the maintenance of the Town’s rural character and historic settlement patterns.

-Direct land use development, both commercial and residential, to preserve large open spaces and prevent strip development between growth centers

-Designate and limit additional commercial and industrial locations to those areas immediately adjacent to commercial areas in village centers

-Encourage and support density bonus incentives for cluster development, both commercial and residential, to enhance preservation of open space and the traditional sense of community

-Encourage the assessment of possible impacts of current or potential growth on the rural character of the Town

-Encourage a continuous effort to obtain as much information as possible about the land and its capabilities

-Understand the status of wastewater disposal in villages in order to adequately identify and plan for current and future capacity and needs

-Continue to employ the nine (9) land use districts designations in order to retain the Town’s rural character and natural beauty

ECONOMY

Lines 644-664

Policies

-Seek business and employment opportunities that provide a livable wage and quality work

-Support the educational and cultural infrastructure of Londonderry

-Require that commercial development be oriented toward positive community growth, favoring businesses that consider, respect and respond to identified community values

-Seek creative commercial development compatible with the rural and scenic character of the Town Encourage the adaptive reuse of buildings for commercial and residential development. Support the financial and technical resources available at local, regional, state and federal levels

-Maintain high environmental standards for existing and new commercial, governmental and residential development

-Seek community support services that are sensitive to and consistent with environmental goals and community values

NATURAL RESOURCES & LAND CONSERVATION

Lines 676-687

The Town of Londonderry has a wide variety of natural resources. The Town’s clean air and water and pleasing mountain and valley vistas are recognized as critically important resources. Indeed, the Town’s landscape is defined by wooded hillsides and undeveloped ridgelines and shore land. The welfare of the Town depends on protecting such resources, particularly the mountain and valley vistas and the wooded and undeveloped ridgelines, particularly on such prominent hillsides as Glebe Mountain, that attract so many residents and visitors. If Londonderry does not protect such vistas, wooded hillsides and undeveloped ridgelines, property values in the Town will decline, harming current landowners and so the Town’s tax base, and well paying jobs serving the needs of residents and visitors will be lost as those people are attracted elsewhere.

Agricultural and Forest Resources

Lines 1006-1010

Policies

11. Maintain the Resource Conservation Overlay District as an area in which forest management and outdoor recreation remain the predominant uses. Carefully manage residential uses to minimize adverse impacts on identified natural and scenic resources, and limit wind generation facilities exclusively to other than those serving as accessory uses to single-family homes

Scenic Areas

Lines 1040-1059

The rural character of Londonderry is composed of a scenic natural landscape with traditional New England settlement patterns and architectural designs that are of critical importance to the community's identity.

The Natural landscape includes open space, working and non-working agricultural lands, managed and unmanaged forest land, as well as Glebe Mountain, Cobble Hill, and other surrounding ridgelines. The Glebe Mountain ridgeline, which defines the eastern boundary of the town, is not only the Town's paramount scenic resource, but also has regional significance. Given Glebe's geomorphic characteristics that provide near and distant scenic views throughout the mountain valley region, development on the ridgeline would irrevocably alter a highly visible, highly valued, and highly visited landscape. Consequently, the Glebe Mountain ridgeline is included in the Resource Conservation Overlay District so as to carefully control development and prohibit all commercial activities other than forest management, recreation and the continued operation of Magic Mountain Ski Area.

Londonderry’s dams and waterways, long and short-range views, scenic roadways and scenic corridors also contribute to the rural character of the community. Boynton, Hell’s Peak, Mansfield, Middletown, Reilly, Under Mountain and Winhall Hollow Roads are Town-designated Scenic Roads while Vermont Routes 11 and 100 are State designated Scenic Corridors.

Policies

Lines 1067-1079

-Maintain natural and man-made features that are of local scenic, cultural and historic significance and protect them from activities that impair their integrity, character and/or quality.

-Encourage landowners to consider the Town’s heritage and natural resources when developing their property through careful design and siting of all structures, access and parking lots, utility installation, lighting and landscaping.

-Encourage cluster development to avoid fragmentation of larger parcels of land, retain open space, conserve agricultural and forestland and maintain scenic values. Encourage compatible and responsible use of lands adjacent to or including areas of scenic, historical, educational, architectural, or archaeological value.

ENERGY

Renewable Energy

Lines 1749-1759

Renewable energy resources that may be available in Londonderry include wood, limited wind, solar and hydropower. The extent to which these sources can be harnessed and used to replace fossil fuels is not clear, however rising fuel prices, new technologies, and the availability since 1998 of ‘net metering’-which allows utility customers with small-scale renewable energy systems to sell excess power generated back to the utility- may promote increased use of renewable sources.

Each of the four forms of renewable energy cited, however, may conflict in whole or in part with other policies of this plan and must be carefully evaluated. Non-commercial energy generation facilities (i.e. net-metered facilities and facilities that are not connected to the regional power grid) generally pose the potential for fewer impacts than larger scale commercial projects.

Lines 1805-1823

Wind Power. Wind power, like hydro and solar power, is an energy source that is not depleted with use. Wind power is now receiving a significant amount of attention statewide for utility and small-scale electrical generation. In contrast to wind power's potential as a naturally recurring resource, commercial wind power generation facilities pose potential negative impacts. In Londonderry, these potential impacts include:

*aesthetic impacts associated with facility siting in highly visible, high elevation areas;

*wildlife impacts including direct impacts and secondary impacts, such as habitat fragmentation and disturbance

*impacts to significant natural or cultural features in the vicinity

*water quality impacts associated with development located at high elevations and on steep slopes and shallow soils;

*quality of life and health impacts related to noise and lighting;

*surface water runoff and soil erosion associated with site clearing and development, including road access;

*safety hazardds associated with blade speed, breakage and ice throw;

*economic impacts associated with potential for diminished real estate values and regional tourism

*and insignificant community benefit from such facilities.

Lines 1825-1836

The nature of commercial windmill development requires such facilities to be developed at higher elevations, generally along ridgelines with elevations of 2,000-3,500 feet. In Londonderry, the most feasible generation sites also correspond with the areas identifies as being among the most important lands for protection-including the Town's most sensitive ecological areas, most wild and unfragmented recreation land, and most prominent aesthetic landmarks, which are highly visible from designated natural areas, scenic roads, historic sites and historic districts. These lands have been included within the town's Resource Conservation Overlay District since the current zoning bylaw was adopted in 2000. As with hydropower, scattered, small-scale generation facilities provide greater potential for local residents to benefit from wind energy without imposing the negative impacts described above on the community.

Policies:

Lines 1840-1870

(1) Support appropriate renewable energy generation in Londonderry, including bio-mass using local wood supplies, solar and dispersed, small-scale wind and hydro-power sources. Large scale wind generation and hydro-power facilities, however, are discouraged and shall be prohibited within the Resource Conservation Overlay District and on the main stem of the West River, respectively.

(2) Maintain the Town's scenic resources and Resource Conservation Overlay District by protecting them from commercial energy generation and new transmission facilities.

(3) Encourage any potential commercial energy facilities to be within the areas deemed most suitable.

(4) Support the use of energy efficient automobiles, appliances, heating units, lighting and other power devices.

(5) Support programs for insulation and weatherization of new and existing facilities, especially for low and moderate-income households.

(6) Encourage and support awareness programs on energy conservation and the availability and use of renewable and alternative fuels.

(7) Encourage, through transportation policies, opportunities for walking, cycling and other energy efficient alternatives to the automobile.

(8) Promote land use and conservation policies that encourage ongoing forest management to maintain a local source of fuel-wood and local agriculture to maintain and increase the supply of locally produced food.

(9) Minimize the need for new facilities and reliance on the private automobile by directing development to designated growth centers, and limiting such development in the least accessible areas of the community.

AUG 30 2005
http://www.windaction.org/posts/69-londonderry-town-plan
back to top