Sunday, February 03, 2013


News to Know January 28 2013

Sent by Corinne Stridsberg and also posted at
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Would you like to help the town in the event of an emergency or disaster? Berlin Emergency Management is looking to expand our team to prepare our emergency plans and to staff our local Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in the event of an emergency. We are looking for strong individuals with experience in operations, planning, finance and especially logistics. Logistics is about knowing people and where to find needed supplies and equipment and perhaps even facilities. Emergency management experience is not necessary, just a willingness to serve your town and help your neighbors. There are some (free) training requirements. The time commitment is up to you, from reviewing plans to working in the EOCduring an emergency. We typically meet one evening a month at the Berlin Four Corners Fire Station and also do some additional training and exercises throughout the year. If you would like to volunteer, please let me know or you could contact our Berlin Emergency Management Director (EMD) Nick Garbacik at
Berlin is prepared to open a shelter for residents who need to evacuate their homes. This takes a team of people to make happen and volunteers are needed. The shelter may open as a "Warming Shelter" where people can be in out of the elements, plan their next steps and have access to a radio, phone, coffee/water & snacks, bathrooms, etc. or it may be determined the shelter will offer meals and set up cots for people to spend the night and get some rest. The main plan is to open a shelter at the Berlin Elementary School which is equipped with a generator, however, a back up plan may have to be used depending on the circumstances. Shelters are opened with the assistance of the American Red Cross and wouldn't be possible unless individuals like yourself are willing to attend a (free) Red Cross shelter training to better understand how it all works. For more information please contact Wanda Baril, Berlin Shelter Coordinator at
The Berlin Emergency Management Team has an email group to better keep you informed on emergency situations and dangers facing the town. To join this list click on and click on “Join this group” in the right hand column.
The Berlin Planning Commission is in need of additional members. Current members are Scott Smith, Karla Nuissl and Rob Young. On the town website ( you can find the 2012 Approved Zoning Regulations and the 2012 Approved Town Plan.Are you curious what the Planning Commission does?Here is a description:

Development in Vermont is controlled by different statutes. One statute relevant to the development process is VSA (Vermont Statutes Anointed) Title 24. In particular within the statute is chapter 117. This is the chapter that the Select board used to create a planning commission. It is also the chapter that the planning commission uses primarily in the town. This provides the requirements that the planning commission uses to write the “policies” that are used. The planning process begins (by statute) with the “Town Plan”. The Town Plan is a document that serves many purposes. To start it is a picture in time. Data is collected using the most recent surveys available such as census, transportation, history, geography, development over time, and education to name a few. Chapter 117 lists the criteria that is required. New to this which will need to be included in the next plan is Economic statistics. The plan is an inventory of sorts as well due to the data showing changes that have occurred since the last plan and the services within the town. The Plan is updated every five years. From the planning perspective, however, it serves as our marching orders. Within the plan are the desired development areas within the town as well as those that should be limited or protected from development.

This segues into the next task that the commission handles - Zoning. Using the plan as a model, the commission uses the information to divide the town into area’s or “zones” and to steer development within these zones. Typically a zone may list development in three ways within a zone - permitted, conditional, or prohibited. Permitted is just what it says. Conditional could go either way, it is there so that additional protections may be required before development begins. An example could be something along the lines of a home doggie daycare being required to provide a certain type of fence or noise buffer to protect those around it. Prohibited is also just what it says. Zoning is what is used to prevent development such as a chemical plant being built next to a school. Areas that would be considered would be residential, commercial, and industrial. It may be appropriate in some instances to add zones that could be a mix. This is where the permitted, and conditional really kick in. The Route 302 corridor (B&M road) is a prime example. Along the highway it allows for a mix of commercial and residential. You don’t need to travel far off the highway though before it switches to residential.
Another document written by the planning commission is the subdivision regulations. These are the rules that are used to divide property. These differ from the zoning regulations in that they only apply to the land and not what may (or may not) be built on it. Currently in Berlin this may be where a farmer sets aside a few acres for his children or swaps a hayfield with a neighboring farmer. These however are on the commissions list of to do’s. They need to be updated. Life isn’t as simple as swapping hayfields anymore! Today’s environment is where the farmer plants his last crop - A foundation for a building. As the family farms continue to be fewer and fewer, developers look to this bounty of available land to build housing development’s and strip malls. The planning commission can write the regulations in a way that can help the town preserve its rural character. To give an example: A Farmer has 100 acres. Typical patterns in Vermontwould be to divide the land into ten – 10 acres plots. What a planning commission could do is to write the regulations in a way that may allow incentives for the developer. Instead of the developer planting 10 foundations spread out over the 100 acres, an incentive would be to allow the developer to build 12 foundations on 20 acres and the other 80 acres remain undisturbed. The 80 acres is protected by making it a common ownership among the 12 property owners of the development. A condo association would be a comparison of this type of ownership. Each of the documents listed above may have components to them such as floodplain regulations.

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