Dorset continues survey discussion

DORSET - On July 2, the Dorset Planning Board continued a review on the results of a survey designed to solicit local sentiment on the level of development local residents are comfortable with. Known as a "build out survey," it is subtitled "What Makes Our Town Sustainable?"

In early May, Dorset town officials sent out a survey to every homeowner with ten multiple-choice questions about how they saw the future of Dorset. The survey was put together by Zoning Administrator Tyler Yandow and funded by a $5,300 grant from the Vermont Department of Housing and Economic Development. The grant money also allowed the town to work with Jim Henderson of the Bennington County Regional Commission as a consultant.

On June 4, they held their first meeting to release and discuss the findings of the survey. It was a passionate meeting, where residents of Dorset were given the opportunity to comment on each question and its results.

According to Yandow, and Town Manager Rob Gaiotti, July's meeting was purely discussion and brainstorming, and they did not make any decisions or pinpoint one central idea.

"It was a good discussion regardless of whether or not we came out of it with concrete ideas," Gaiotti said.

Among the topics discussed were the potential of information technology jobs in town, adding more affordable housing, keeping young families in the area, and improving the quality of pre-existing housing stock such as construction quality and the resources available to heat older homes. Affordable housing was a very passionate topic at their last meeting where they first discussed the results of their Build-Out Survey.

Prior to the meeting, Yandow had sketched out a flow chart of where he hoped the project would go. It began with the brainstorming session, then filtered the results of the session through the survey results. From there, goals will be made as the final step of the grant project. After that point, the opinions and comments from the survey and brainstorming session will be incorporated into the Town Plan review and update.

"I would hope to see it go that way," Yandow said of the chart. "I thought it was a logical sequence of events."

"We tried to keep the process [of the brainstorming] informal... as an organic process," Gaiotti said. "Anyone who wanted to throw an idea out there could."

The meeting was not highly attended, but Gaiotti thought that it may have been due to the meeting's proximity to the holiday.

"It's a fluid process," he said of the entire survey and study project, "but we're getting there. We'll see more ideas at the next meeting."

Gaiotti explained that they are also working on the subcommittee that was created at last month's meeting. The small group of residents who are interested in focusing on the survey and encouraging conversation on the subject is still in its early stages, he said. Currently, they are being lead by the Planning Commission and do not have regularly scheduled meetings, but they were in attendance the recent Planning Commission meeting.

Yandow explained that this is a topic that is going to be on their agenda for at least the next 6-8 months.

The next meeting is planned for Aug. 6, at 7 p.m. in the Dorset Town Offices. The meetings are open to the public.


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