Pittsford Planning Commission Meeting
September 22, 2016
Board Members Present: David Soulia, Kevin Blow, Dave Mills, Rick Conway, Mark Winslow, Colleen Hobbs
Board Members Absent: Chuck Charbonneau
Also in Attendance: Jim Rademacher
- Call to order
The meeting was called to order at 7:00PM by David Soulia – Chair.
- Approval of Agenda
A motion was made by Mark Winslow and seconded by David Mills to approve the agenda. The motion passed unanimously.
- Approval of Minutes
A motion was made by David Mills and seconded by Mark Winslow to approve the July 28, 2016 Planning Commission meeting minutes as presented. The motion passed unanimously.
- Public Comments
Jim Rademacher stated in reviewing the Town Plan, he noted the area of education funding needs updating. When there is an opportunity to do an upgrade of the Plan, Mr. Rademacher volunteered to review that part of the Plan and provide updates. Officially the Pittsford School District and Lothrop School Board do not exist and the taxing and funding has changed. As far as facilities, both OV and Lothrop went through energy renovations this past summer and the current Plan does not discuss facilities. Mr. Rademacher brought this item up due to a discussion at a school board meeting regarding the Caverly property that the school wants to turn over to the town, but would like to maintain the option of having the property available for potential use in the future. He noted this would be a long-term possibility, but because it is now a unified district, it is less likely. The small schools are worried about consolidation and he is uncertain what will happen in the future. Both Lothrop and Neshobe are in fairly decent shape and perhaps there could be consolidation in the back lot of OV in the long term future for growth. Mr. Rademacher stated he would be willing to draft something that would reflect accurate current information. David Soulia stated there has also been discussion of sending a survey to the schools to get the students’ thoughts. Dave Mills suggested gearing a survey more towards the students and then provide it to Mr. Rademacher for distribution at the schools.Beverly Peterson stated she was present to listen to the Planning Commission’s discussion. David Soulia noted the Planning Commission has a copy of Ms. Peterson’s letter that she had submitted.
- Miscellaneous Commission Items
David Soulia reported there was a letter to the Editor from Larry Booker commenting on the proposed Dollar General. Mr. Soulia advised that the Planning Commission does not have a say whether the Dollar General comes into Pittsford and are only responsible for the landscaping and lighting requirements.Mr. Soulia reported there was a letter sent to some people that were against the windmill project from Annette Smith who is a Planning Commission member from Danby and a member of the Rutland Regional Planning Commission and Vermonters for a Clean Environment. She was very active with the community when the windmill project was proposed. Mr. Soulia asked if the Planning Commission members could share their stand on potential wind power.Rick Conway stated he is on the Zoning Board and Pittsford Zoning addresses ridgelines through the Upland Conversation District. If someone was to apply for a permit, there is not anything in the Zoning that allows it to be a permitted use. It does not stop someone from seeking a variance, which they would have to do to satisfy criteria regarding state statute. The Town can address wind in the Town Plan and the Public Service Board has to review the specifications on wind projects in a town plan. It is important to understand that the current zoning would not allow a wind project as a permitted use and this has been in play for a very long time. There was confusion at the Select Board meeting because originally when the Planning Commission was proposing its changes, it was a different board and the Select Board sent back items to remove that included the Wildlife Corridor. In the current Zoning of 2013, Section 1120 mentions both ridge lines and wild life corridors. The Planning Commission had Gary Kuepfer review the changes to the zoning and the attorney stated there was not a definition of ridge lines and suggested Section 1120 be removed in its entirety because there are no ridge line districts. At the advice of the attorney, it was removed. The attorney had advised that Mendon has 13 pages of ridge line definitions and it was very complicated and difficult to work with and the Upland Conservation District would restrict that use on the ridge line. Mr. Conway stated when there are regulations, a Zoning Board has to base its decisions on those regulations and there is nothing that defines ridge lines. David Soulia stated in looking at the beginning of the zoning regulations, the Conservation District specifies certain ridges. Knowing this was a concern with the community, the Planning Commission looked into what needed to be done to assure this was not an issue any longer. Mr. Soulia advised that specifics landmarks have to noted, as ridge lines cannot be generalized. Dave Mill stated hopefully there will be language to place in the Town Plan that indicates no windmills. Mr. Soulia has reached out to several people that include state and regional planning personnel to determine if there are any other specific ridgelines that should be notated in the Town Plan. He suggested if anyone can provide additional information on specific ridgelines, it is important information that is needed for the Town Plan. Mr. Conway stated here could possibly be utility easements in the area in question and the Planning Commission has to rely on an attorney for this. He stated if there was an appeal, the Planning Commission does not want to be too vague.
Bev Peterson stated concerned citizens want to be sure that this is addressed and she noted that West Rutland is going by elevation indicating that over a certain elevation, there could be no development. Rick Conway noted the state can take a piece of land by eminent domain and suggested people concerned with this subject should contact their legislators, as they have made the regulations relating to this matter. Mr. Conway stated decisions by local zoning can be appealed up to the Supreme Court. He stated if the legislature put something in law, that could be bearing on the Public Service Board. Mr. Conway stated regulations to restrict development could be a constitutional rights issue. David Soulia stated for the record, when emails of questionable nature come out, he encouraged people to address the Planning Commission for clarification. Mr. Soulia noted he is neutral on the subject, unless the wind power impacts the surrounding properties and infringes on property owners’ rights. Kevin Blow and Collen Hobbs also noted they are neutral on the subject. David Mills stated wind power will work in certain areas, but the majority of the people in Pittsford do not want it and he would go along with what the majority of the people in town desire. Mark Winslow did not have an opinion on the subject. Rick Conway stated he remains neutral and if it is a zoning issue, they have to depend on the regulations. Mr. Conway thinks that the legislature should have more say. Bev Peterson felt that the question pertaining to commercial wind power in the survey was confusing. David Soulia reported the overwhelming majority of people completing the survey had indicated that they did not want commercial wind power on the ridgelines. Mr. Soulia noted this survey was done to obtain input from the public.
Mark Winslow asked if the Planning Commission has received any information from the Select Board concerning the zoning regulations. Hank Pelkey stated the Select Board will be voting on the document at the next Select Board meeting. It was noted that the Select Board’s response time is within the time limits for renewal process.
- Continue Town Plan Updating Process
Dave Soulia stated as a member of the School Board, Jim Rademacher has offered to assist with the education part of the Town Plan. Mr. Soulia advised the timeline for the re-adoption of the Town Plan is to do a review of the current Plan and make the necessary updates and readopt it before the end of the year. Once this is accomplished, it will reset the clock for re-adoption to 8 years and the Planning Commission can then do a more thorough review and rewrite of the Town Plan.
The Planning Commission continued with a page-by-page review of the current Town Plan dated December 19, 2012.Page 4 – Table of Contents – It was noted the maps that are attached to the Plan are not noted in the Table of Contents. The 2010 Town Plan had maps attached.Page 5 – Purpose of the Town Plan – last paragraph – It was a consensus of the Planning Commission to remove all but the last sentence of the paragraph; “The essence of this Town Plan is to maintain and improve the quality of life for our citizens.” It was noted that the survey will be referenced, however, the survey is still in the review process. David Soulia will complete the tallying of the survey by the next meeting. Mr. Soulia will also do the rewrite of the Town Plan and work with the Town once it is approved to assure there are not multiple copies, which has caused confusion in the past.
Page 6 – Preparation of the Town Plan – a correction to the timeframe that the Town Plan is re-adopted every eight years. There was consensus to remove the second paragraph in its entirety. David Soulia stated as the Planning Commission obtains public feedback, additional information will be inserted in this section. Rick Conway stated by the use of the zoning, the Planning Commission can start by changing the zoning map. David Soulia asked if the entire section should be reworded and requested Mr. Conway craft this section. Mr. Conway agreed to rewrite the section based on the information received from the survey results. Colleen Hobbs volunteered to assist Mr. Conway with the rewrite. Mr. Soulia suggested a review of the statute to assure that this section is up to date. Mr. Soulia will provide a working copy of the survey results to the Planning Commission members.
Page 7 – Vision – Rick Conway stated there should be clearly defined language for this section. In everything that was read, the prior Planning Commission was basing it on cluster development within the village. Mr. Conway stated the village center is important, but it needs to be clarified where it is. Mark Winslow stated the section should talk about the village and the town and noted there should be more input from the people in the village. David Soulia will obtain input from the Rutland Regional Planning Commission regarding language and information on the Future Land Use map. It was noted the village can keep the rural character and have districts to support the village. Mr. Conway stated he did not think there is spare capacity at the sewer plant to support this type of growth. Mr. Winslow suggested looking at other towns that have done this type of plan to maintain the village feel but promote growth, such as Cooperstown, NY. Mr. Winslow will do research in this area. Mr. Conway stated towns predominantly grow to the south and currently the north side is shut down, except for the established businesses that exist. There had been previous discussions of extending the village southward possibly. Mr. Soulia stated the concept of village support is essentially commercial. It was suggested to invite Rula Moradi to a subsequent meeting to discuss this topic. It was noted that the research on services is important to do. Mr. Soulia advised he has had discussions with the state regarding the village green designation and was advised that this designation means nothing to zoning and planning and has no legal weight. It is a means of being added to a register and a town can have multiple historic village greens. Mr. Conway stated when the Route 7 upgrade came through Pittsford, the state did not consider the green areas in Act 250 and the Environmental Court affirmed on the town’s behalf regarding those areas. If they are part of the village character, one cannot come in and take out those areas. Mr. Soulia stated the green near the intersection of Routes 7 and 3 is listed as a historic site.
Page 8 – History – David Soulia reached out to the Pittsford Historical Society and asked if they would be interested in rewriting this section. Rick Conway volunteered to contact them again. It was recommended to change the word “encroach” in the last paragraph on Page 9 to “expand upon”.
Page 10 – Physical Characteristics – Kevin Blow suggested changing the phrase in the third sentence of the second paragraph from several farms in operation to a few farms in operation. Rick Conway asked if there could be something done to revitalize the farms. David Soulia noted that going forward the state is going to be checking the Town Plans to assure that a town is following through on the statements that they have indicated in their town plan, therefore, anything that is included in the Town Plan should be acted upon. Mr. Conway stated there used to be an inventory of all farms, commercial properties, etc. Mark Winslow noted that the agriculture culture of farms is changing. Mr. Soulia suggested that farms should be in another section rather than in Physical Characteristics. Mr. Soulia also noted that the paragraph at the top of Page 11 is where there needs to be additional information about the ridgelines as a relates to wind power. Mr. Soulia asked if Ms. Peterson would like to reach out to others to obtain additional information for this section. In the same paragraph, a correction to the word “marches” to marshes” and it was suggested to remove the word “severely” from the fifth sentence. It was noted that the wind power subject is in Conservation I and II, but including information about ridgelines as they relate to erosion in the Physical Characteristics section would be valuable, as the scientific aspects are a more valuable argument than aesthetics. Dave Mills stated erosion is already noted in the zoning, but it would be helpful to add the erosion factor in Physical Characteristics. Rick Conway stated the Town Plan is what holds weight in an Act 250 hearing and it should be clear, as it will be what allows or disallows a permit. Mr. Soulia suggested Ms. Peterson forward any additional information relating to ridgelines to the Zoning Administrator, Jeff Biasuzzi and he will forward it to the Planning Commission. Colleen Hobbs questioned if there should be something included about architecture. Mr. Soulia will contact Bruce Babcock in Public Works to discuss this item. It was suggested to remove the word ridgelines and replace with the phrase “lands above an 800-foot elevation”. Mr. Soulia will work on updating the Physical Characteristics and Population Sections.
Page 11 – Population – David Soulia will work with Ed Bove of the Rutland Regional Planning Commission to obtain the updated information for this section. In the 3rd paragraph, a correction in the word “mad” to “made”. Jim Rademacher stated with regard to education, the enrollment will be steady for the next five years. It was suggested the last paragraph in the section to be eliminated.
Page 11 – Economic Base – This section will be discussed at the next meeting.
Page 13 – Town Government – In paragraph five, the Planning Commission members to be changed from five to seven. It was suggested to change paragraph four to read: The Zoning Board of Adjustment is a seven-member board responsible for reviewing applications for conditional uses and variances and hearing appeals of decisions made by the Zoning Administrator. David Soulia will update all acronyms. There needs to be a paragraph added to define the Police Department. Mr. Soulia will request the Police Chief provide a description of the Police Department for inclusion in the section relative to Other Support Services (Page 45).
Jim Rademacher noted there are no definitions in the Town Plan.
- Schedule Date for Next Meeting
October 27, 2016
A motion was made by Mark Winslow and seconded by Kevin Blow to adjourn the Planning Commission meeting at 8:47PM. The motion passed unanimously.
The Pittsford Planning Commission