Monday, March 11, 2013

Cavendish Planning Commission Town Survey 2012 Results Summarized

In the fall of 2012, the Cavendish Planning Commission conducted a survey to determine the sentiments of Cavendish property owners and residents on a variety of planning related issues.  Survey results were available as a hand out at Town meeting and during voting the following day. They are also available on-line. Below is a summary of findings.

One hundred and eighty (180) surveys were completed with 65% (117) being full time residents, 14% (25) part time residents and 21% (38) being non-resident property owners.

In summarizing the data, please note that percentages have been rounded to whole numbers. Also note that not everyone completed all questions, and some questions allowed for more than one answer. 

While a rating of “fine” was given for most municipal and volunteer services, those with the highest approval ratings included Cavendish Fletcher Library (95%), Town Office (94%) and Proctorsville Fire Dept (93%). Those areas were improvement was thought to be needed by at least 30% or more of respondents included: Recycling (58%); Solid Waste Disposal (34%) Law Enforcement (33%) and Ambulance/EMS (30%). It should be noted that the last service most likely reflects concern with the emergency medical services (EMS) portion as both volunteer fire departments received good approval ratings.

In terms of recycling, 73% of the respondents said more recycling opportunities were needed, 14% were not in favor of more recycling and 13% had no opinion. It is important to note that due to changes in Vermont legislation, mandating recycling, zero sort will soon be available in Cavendish and costs for this program have been included in the Selectmen’s budget for the coming year.

Continuing with environmental issues, when asked about town ordinances to regulate various options, 51% of respondents thought they were needed for cellular communication towers; 49% for wind turbines; 46% for outdoor wood burning furnace; 45% for bio mass installations; 31% for geothermal installations; and 30% for solar PV.

Eighty eight (88) percent of respondents thought the town/school should pursue energy conservation grants, while 6% said no and 7% had no opinion. In terms of a sign ordinance, 46% of respondents indicated that the town should adopt one, while 32% said no and 22% had no opinion.

Protecting Cavendish’s rural character and quiet areas, as well as scenic roads and views were thought to be important for 95% of respondents. Having a town website was thought to be needed by 91% and 76% wants the town to be made more attractive to families with school age children. Note that the town office does have a website

In terms of land conservation.82% thought the Town should work with landowners and land trusts to conserve land, while 10% were not in favor and 8% had no opinion. When asked what people would like to see conserved, in order of ranking, the following were selected Forest and Woods (81%), scenic views and roads (81%), River corridor (75%); agriculture (74%); recreational (66%); wetlands (56%); ridgelines (55%).

As far as the economy, 80% of respondents would like to see a stronger local economy that provides more jobs in town. Twelve percent had no opinion on this question and 8% voted no. Voting was along similar lines for whether Cavendish should have more businesses (78% yes, 12% no, and 9% no opinion). Those who thought more business was needed in Cavendish were asked to identify the types they would like to see. In priority order, these were identified as follows: Retail (65%); Restaurants (63%); Light industry or manufacturing (63%); service (57%), home-based (57%) and forest products (45%).

As roads are a major concern, particularly in winter, two questions on the survey addressed how well the roads are maintained. To the question of town roads, 79% thought they were maintained adequately, while 14% responded no and 7% had no opinion. As far as the state roads of Routes 103 and 131, 87% thought they were adequately maintained, while 8% said no and 5% had no opinion.

Long discussed in town, a bike path between the villages was thought to be an important asset by 62% of the respondents; 23% said it wasn’t and 15% had no opinion.

Even though speeding has been a topic at a number of select board meetings, only 42% of respondents thought this was an issue. For those concerned about speeding, Main Street in Cavendish village was identified as a high-speed area by 70%. With regard to Depot Street in Proctorsville, which has been on the agenda for a number of Select board meetings, 38 of 68 respondent (56%) said speeding was an issue there, while 12 (18%) said no and 18 (26%) had no opinion. 

Questions about housing showed that the majority of respondents preferred single-family homes on individual lots (90% said they were in favor or strongly in favor). The type of housing least desirable was group homes (58% voted against or strongly against);  Section 8 and low-income housing (56%); and mobile homes on individual lots (50%). As far as affordable housing in Cavendish, 45% respondents had no opinion, while 33% thought there was a need for it and 22% said there wasn’t a need. In terms of whether Cavendish should investigate simple subdivision process, 36% of respondents said no, 36% had no opinion and 28% voted yes.

It appears that many are not aware of the Town’s dog ordinance. When asked how they felt about it, 47% said they didn’t know about it; 29% thought it was fine the way it is , 18% thought more dog owners should know about it; 13% called for better enforcement and 7% selected “should be more strict.”

When asked “how do you get your information,” the three most popular methods were as follows: local newspaper (75%); on-line (Cavendish Update e-mail and blog 74%) and word of mouth (60%). Not included in the survey was the Cavendish VT Facebook page, which averages 1,000 distinct users each week.

Questions about the survey should be directed to the Planning Commission. 

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