By DANA HANLEY
Town of Essex, community development director

Nearly two years into the ETC|NEXT planning project, the Essex Planning Commission is taking a different track for a while to write the regulatory framework that implements the plan (Phase 2). The ETC|NEXT project was developed to update the 1991 Town Center Master Plan.

The final draft of the ETC|NEXT plan was completed in May. It is the culmination of many months of community outreach, research and analysis. It includes a ‘vision’ statement.

The Vision
The Essex Town Center or ETC is a diverse community within the Town of Essex that has grown from its historic beginnings near Towers Road to extend along Route 15 to its intersection with VT 289.

Within this corridor, distinctive and interconnected neighborhoods have matured to support a wide variety of land uses, including residential, retail, civic, commercial, and recreational.

These neighborhoods are linked together and to the broader region through an integrated multi-modal transportation network, a shared and pervasive wayfinding system and a common palette of streetscape and landscape elements, while retaining an architectural expression that reinforces their unique character.

The Planning Commission recently started working to align the regulations with the vision. It has reviewed the neighborhood planning areas. Future meetings will explore Site Criteria (lot configuration, setbacks, parking); Connectivity (street typology, block perimeter, bike accommodation); Open Space/ Recreation (types, recreation objectives, open space requirements); Architectural Form/Character (building heights, allowable forms, facades, materials); and Uses/Densities (use mix, density, relationship to forms).  This part of the process will take us through April, meeting the second Thursday of every month.  Both the draft plan and the timeframe for the regulatory meetings are on the Town’s website https://www.essex.org/

This is one of the most significant and interesting planning projects in over 25 years in Essex.  All are welcome to attend the Planning Commission meetings. For any questions, call Dana Hanley, Community Development Director, 878-1343.