Located between Middlebury and Burlington along the Route 7 Corridor, the nearly 3,500 town residents enjoy the hills and ridges overlooking Lake Champlain. The community is actively engaged in keeping the productive Champlain Valley soils in farming. The result is a variety of agricultural activities that include orchards, dairies, berry farms, a winery, apiaries and community supported agriculture (CSA). Among the community motivations for protecting farmland and open space is maintaining the scenic views along important highway corridors, including Route 7.
Tools you can use
Several years ago, Charlotte residents watched as roadside development spread along the Route 7 corridor in neighboring communities to the north, and decided to protect the views and character of their community and avoid excessive strip development. In 1990, they implemented an Access Management strategy to ensure that Route 7 remains a functioning major arterial rather than a congested access for scattered businesses and housing developments. The Access Management Standards were incorporated into their zoning bylaw as general regulations, which subjected property with frontage on Route 7 to special access standards. These include:
- A property with frontage on Route 7 and no frontage on a secondary road are allowed only one access point. This will not be permitted where traffic conditions, topography or any physical site limitations would prevent the construction of a safe access.
- If the property does have access to a secondary road, the access point must be located there.
This has given those property owners a “heads up” that this is an important issue for the community and that they are concerned about safety as well as interested in preserving the rural character of their roads.
- Clearly outline your goals for access management in your town planning documents.
- A regulation does not have to be complicated to be effective.Access management is most effective when combined with good land use planning.
- In Charlotte, the community opted not to allow most commercial land uses along the Route 7 corridor.