Village Bylaw Revision Project (Williston, VT)
The Town of Williston is working on a zoning bylaw revision to update the development and design review standards with illustrations for the Village Zoning District to promote historic preservation, adaptive reuse, and flexibility in new project design to encourage a vibrant village center. The consultant will help us to fine-tune bylaw standards and illustrate the written words with photos, renderings, and illustrations. These illustrations will be important not only for zoning administration but garnering community support and trust during the adoption process.
CONTEXT & BACKGROUND
The historic village is the heart of Williston. The project location is the Village Zoning District (VZD), which includes the Designated Village Center and National Register Historic District. The VZD is bounded by the Allen Brook to the east and north, by the Circ Highway ROW and conserved farmland on the west, and I-89 to the south. The National Register Historic District and Additional Review Area within the VZD contain properties with high visibility along Williston Road and many are of great historic value. The remainder of the zoning district contains generally newer properties with less visibility.
The development standards of the past 25+ years were designed to prevent formulaic strip development and encourage historic preservation so the town’s beloved village would remain intact for future generations. The community has invested and reinvested in the village – by expanding the library, building a new Police Station and renovating Central School. The policies of the 2018 Village Master Plan, an appendix to the 2016-2024 Comprehensive Plan, call for a correction of the misalignment between Plan goals and current regulations. The current standards do not encourage development that will achieve long-term goals of incremental change, diverse housing and business opportunity. This leaves property owners and the town with a limited future where the village may no longer be relevant. As options narrow for property owners, so too does their incentive to maintain or adapt the historic structures that are central to the village’s character. The time has come to shed overly restrictive and cumbersome bylaw standards. The town must adopt something new that looks to the future and encourages the many ways in which the village can remain a vibrant and real place.
Planning staff and volunteer boards have drafted preliminary bylaw standards that accomplish the goals of the Village Master Plan and the “Enabling Better Places” Zoning Guide. We have the words and now we need to the pictures. To attract reinvestment and opportunity, the standards need to be communicated clearly and visually. The consultant will help us to fine- tune bylaw standards and illustrate the written word with photos, renderings, and illustrations. Because the village has been fraught with controversy in the past, these illustrations will be important not only for administration but garnering community support and trust during the adoption process. Illustrations and an effective outreach process will help current residents of the village understand the opportunity the new bylaw creates for their neighborhood, as well as the ways in which the new standard protects character and privacy even if the fabric around them is evolving.
A total of $12,000 is available for consultant services from the Municipal Planning Grant Program awarded to the Town of Williston by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. The town will take responsibility for the costs and workplan associated with public outreach, hosting online meetings, printing materials, postage and mailings, signage, online survey tools, etc.
The project timeline will be managed by the Grant Administrator, Emily Heymann. Emily is the staff lead for the Historic and Architectural Advisory Committee (HAAC) and staff assistant for the Planning Commission (PC). We do not anticipate the establishment of an ad hoc committee because the HAAC serves an advisory role to the Planning Commission. Planning staff will be responsible for managing the public outreach, public hearings, and applicable noticing requirements in coordination with the selected consultant. Ultimately, the Planning Commission and Selectboard are the decision makers who will need to hold a formal hearing process and adopt the bylaw amendments.
RFQ Released February 19, 2021
Qualifications due March 19, 2021
Consultants selected for short-list by March 26, 2021
Proposals due April 16, 2021
Interviews week of April 19th or April 26th
Consultant selection by April 30, 2021
Finalize contract week of May 10th
Complete project by February 2022*
Contract end date May 31, 2022*