The Milton Planning Commission was the first of six local boards to nominate one of its members to a new committee focusing on transportation infrastructure.

At its regular meeting last Tuesday, PC members nominated clerk Tony Micklus to be a member of the Transportation Infrastructure Standards Steering Committee.

The ad-hoc group, which will form in May and finish in January, will work with a consultant to create clear transportation infrastructure standards for new development.

The committee will be comprised of six members – one each from the PC, economic development commission, conservation commission, school board, development review board and recreation commission.

Each group will select a nominee by April 26, and the selectboard will make the final appointments, including one of its own members, on May 1.

At its Monday night meeting, the Milton School Board nominated Rae Couillard to the TISSC and selected Lori Donna, who is also chairwoman of the planning commission, as an alternate.

The work will help draft amendments to the town’s development regulations and public works specifications, planning director Jake Hemmerick said.

Additionally, the TISSC will ensure all new infrastructure projects meet economic and water quality standards in the town plan, expand transportation choice and reduce municipal road permit costs. 

Over the next six months, committee members will parse through planning concepts, and once amendments are drafted, the selectboard and planning commission will review them.

Amendments will focus on fixing standards that make it difficult for developers to determine what the town expects from them, according to town documents,

In that same vein, the TISSC will also make it easier for the planning commission and development review board to make decisions in a quicker, more effective manner. Oftentimes, zoning, subdivision and public works regulations are amended at different times, Hemmerick said.

“If you don’t have someone keeping a close eye, things quickly get out of sync,” he said. “It’s about clarity and coherence and making sure documents aren’t overlapping or creating conflict.”

One instance where this overlap is evident is with the way the town refers to “traveled ways.” Across the zoning, subdivision and public works specifications, the town has 55 different terms – many of which have very similar definitions – to classify traveled ways.

“It’s just as frustrating for town staff as developers,” Hemmerick said.

In preparation for the TISSC’s May 1 start date, the town issued a request for qualifications at the end of March for planning, engineering and environmental consultants to work with the committee.

Following the May 3 deadline, the committee will compile a short-list of consultants by mid-May, hold interviews the first week in June and select a consultant to start July 1.

“My hope is that we’ll get teams of engineers and planners that bring both skill sets to table,” Hemmerick said.

The consultant will be tasked with drafting amendments to the town’s development regulations and public works specifications that resolve inconsistencies in ordinances.

The town’s decision to form a committee, Hemmerick said, stems from its need for stakeholders to be more involved in transportation infrastructure planning and execution.

“We certainly could just have a consultant produce a report and give recommendations and hand that off to the planning commission and that might be more efficient, but it wouldn’t be as effective,” he said.

To keep the public informed and involved, the TISSC will launch a page on the town’s website to host project updates, open meeting agendas, reference documents and information to guide the project. The committee will also hold at least one public forum.

“I’m building a library of resources right now,” Hemmerick said. “Public outreach is an important aspect of this project.”

The total cost for the project is $26,000, $20,000 of which will be covered by a state grant. The general fund will cover the remaining $6,000. Milton is only one of two Chittenden County municipalities to get the grant, Hemmerick said.

The TISSC will meet the second Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. Its last meeting is scheduled for January 15 of next year.