Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission (TRORC) did not approve the Norwich Town Plan at its Board meeting on September 26. The news was reported on a listserv post on Friday by Selectboard Chair John Pepper.
The rejection of the Town Plan does not make it invalid. "The Town's Plan is still valid, it can still be used in state regulatory proceedings like Act 250 or Section 248, Norwich can still adopt new bylaws or amend existing bylaws," said TRORC Executive Director Peter Gregory in an email. Mr. Gregory indicated he plans to notify the Town of the specific problems "very soon." "The reasons are essentially spelled out in the draft decision we provided to the Town a couple weeks ago."
What appears to be the draft decision is in the Selectboard packet for the September 26 meeting. According to that draft, of "most concern" to TRORC is the potential conflict between the Town Plan and TRORC Regional Plan for "commercial uses, especially principal retail establishments, outside of the village areas."
Selectboard Chair Pepper expressed disappointment in the decision, saying in his listserv post:
None of us on the Selectboard have been given any reasons for this yet, however it's critical to know that prior to the meeting the staff had recommended, in writing, approval of the Norwich Town Plan.
There are people in our town who will be celebrating this result, no doubt. We will learn more details soon. I am - personally - so disappointed about this - and I am sorry for all of us - and to all of you who may read this - that we couldn't get such a standard initiative completed successfully.
TRORC has published a document, Why have an Approved Plan?
, which outlines the benefits of getting approval from the regional planning commission. It is not known to me if loss of these benefits will have an immediate or direct impact on the Town.