The Town of Enosburgh is located in Franklin County and was home to 4,977 residents (including those in the Village of Enosburg Falls) in 2010. The Town Plan describes future issues that the town must face: “As development pressures increase in Chittenden and western Franklin Counties, housing and land affordability make Enosburgh more attractive. On the surface this would appear to be a blessing for those home and landowners looking to sell their properties. However, it also represents the potential for the kind of development that destroys the character of the community as well as creating a strain on public services such as schools, fire and emergency protection, and roads.”
Tools you can use
The Town of Enosburgh recognized that roads over a certain length could fragment blocks of intact forest in their town, but wanted to avoid a blanket prohibition on long roads. Instead, the town decided to regulate roads over 800 feet only for those districts most likely to be affected by encroachment.
They then developed different standards to fit each district’s purpose:
- Rural Residential District: Roads over 800 feet are allowed but require conditional use review (Enosburgh Development Bylaw, p. 11).
- Natural Resources Overlay District: Roads over 800 feet are prohibited unless the development review board determines there is no other way to provide access to the property, or that a longer driveway actually helps avoid impacts on natural resources (p. 13).
- Conservation District: Roads over 800 feet are generally prohibited, and allowed only by variance (p. 12).
- Focus on standards that will implement your specific goals. In Enosburgh, the planning commission was reluctant to create a town-wide, blanket prohibition on roads. Instead, they looked at those areas that were most vulnerable to development, and regulated accordingly.
- Create a standard that is easy to define, simple to administer, and very clear in its expectations. This makes it clear what is being regulated and why, which can make the development review process more straightforward for everybody involved.
- Consider the context. Enosburgh is home to an important wildlife corridor in the Northern Green Mountains. Their zoning districts, and the accompanying road standards, reflect the location and value of those resources.
Related Case Studies
“Road and Trail Policies,” Community Strategies for Vermont’s Forests and Wildlife: A Guide for Local Action. Chapter 17, p. 63.
“Topic Paper 25: Roads & Highways,” Land Use Planning and Implementation Manual.
Please Note: Language used in this summary was adapted from Community Strategies for Vermont’s Forests and Wildlife: A Guide for Local Action, Chapter 17.