Pittsford Planning Commission Meeting
October 27, 2016
Board Members Present: David Soulia, Kevin Blow, Dave Mills, Rick Conway, Colleen Hobbs
Board Members Absent: Mark Winslow, Chuck Charbonneau
Also in Attendance: Jeff Biasuzzi – Zoning Administrator, Ann Rademacher, Beverly Peterson
1. Call to order
The meeting was called to order at 7:07PM by David Soulia – Chair.
2. Approval of Agenda
A motion was made by Dave Mills and seconded by Kevin Blow to approve the agenda. The motion passed unanimously.
3. Approval of Minutes
A motion was made by Kevin Blow and seconded by Rick Conway to approve the September 22, 2016 Planning Commission meeting minutes as presented. The motion passed unanimously.
4. Public Comments
Beverly Peterson provided a handout concerning the discussion of the ridge line. She used the same language that was in the existing document, but added more peaks, mountains and elevations, which could be added as the first paragraph at the top of Page 11 of the Town Plan. Dave Mills stated the Nature Conversancy is also noted on Page 47 and information could also be added to that section. Ms. Peterson stated it is somewhat redundant, but thought it would be good if the Castleton headwaters information is included. Dave Soulia stated this information could be provided to Ed Bove at the Rutland Regional Planning Commission to obtain their recommendation. Jeff Biasuzzi suggested also including longitudes and latitudes. Mr. Biasuzzi has asked Steve Shields of Regional Planning to generate a new 2016 map with signing language for the Select Board to sign at their next meeting. Mr. Biasuzzi stated the Zoning Regulations were approved on October 5th and were in effect as of October 27th and noted that a version of the document is needed for the website. David Soulia will provide the Town Clerk a copy for the website. Rick Conway suggested all Zoning Board members should be mailed a copy of the document. Mr. Conway stated John Haverstock provided him a copy and the language should say that it was adopted 10/5/16 and effective as of today’s date. A copy has to be sent to the Town Clerk and the date needs to be changed. Mr. Conway stated there was a mistake in the table of contents. Mr. Soulia will provide the Town Clerk the final version in accordance with the statutes. It was noted the official copy should have the Select Board’s signature on the one that the Town Clerk receives.
Ann Rademacher provided Planning Commission the Education section of the Town Plan that Jim Rademacher had completed. He consulted with the school district’s Superintendent and Business Manager to assure that the information provided was correct.
5. Miscellaneous Commission Items
Dave Mill reported he attended the Rutland Regional Planning Commission (RRPC) meeting. The first meeting was on renewable energy. There will be an Energy Committee developed and he hopes to be on this committee. The RRPC needs to write an energy plan for the Rutland region that is based on the state’s criteria of having 25% renewable energy by 2025 and 90% by 2050. There was discussion of the statewide targets for renewable energy and the goal is for the Rutland region to generate 10% of the state’s solar renewable energy. Currently the region generates 9 megawatts with the goal to generate 166 megawatts by 2050. The goal is for the Rutland area to generate 12% of the state’s wind power. Currently the region generates 5 one-hundredths megawatt, with a goal of 39 megawatts by 2050. This is not a mandate but is what the state would like to see. The plan is about not using gas and is based on population. Beverly Peterson questioned why the roofs of malls could not be utilized for the renewable energy sources, similar to what is done in southern New England. Dave Soulia stated there would be engineering involved because of load limitations, but thought it would be worth investigation. Dave Mills stated roofs are engineered for maximum snow load, but when putting up new ones, there would be potential to design them with this in mind. Mr. Mills reported there was also a representative present at the meeting from the Health Department to talk about fluoridation and walking trails. It was requested the towns include a health section in their town plans. Mr. Mills stated another meeting that he attended focused on community discussions that included a proposed auto body shop across the street from Mr. Twitters. The concerns were the lighting and the road access and there was a question of whether 9L comes into play. There was also discussion of a gravel pit in Danby Village and the issues with the blasting that is cracking people’s houses. There was no discussion of the Dollar General in Pittsford. With regard to the Dollar General, Dave Soulia stated the Act 250 application was an expeditionary application that determines whether they want to move forward and do a full Act 250 application. Rick Conway attended the Act 250 hearing and he has been unable to obtain any minutes from the meeting. Mr. Conway noted he has a recorded copy of the hearing and advised there has been a request for an extension into November.
Dave Soulia advised he has been researching the areas of wind turbines and solar panels on agricultural soil. Mr. Soulia stated there is legislation that includes eminent domain language. Towns need to look into superior economic alternatives for properties that are being considered for uses outside what the community desires. As the Planning Commission reviews the Economic, Health and Recreation portions of the Town Plan, there needs to be activities included that give people reasons to come to this community. Mr. Soulia has reached out to the state regarding farming to determine things that can be done in this area. Mr. Soulia advised that VTrans has indicated that each state department gets an allotted amount of money and that determines the jobs that they are going to do. He noted Chittenden County gets the lion’s share and in order to change that, the Rutland region needs to start making things happen here. He noted this area is centrally located in the state and if efforts are organized to develop farming as an economic viable means, it opens doors to other business. Mr. Soulia noted that in creating viable alternatives for farming the land versus solar panels, it provides a valid argument.
6. Continue Town Plan Updating Process
Rick Conway stated at the last Planning Commission meeting, Colleen Hobbs and he were to meet regarding Page 6, Section 3, Preparation of the Town Plan to do a rewrite of the section. A review of the survey results provided by Dave Soulia was done and it is the suggestion of Mr. Conway and Ms. Hobbs that more surveys are required in order to do a more accurate assessment for this section. It was suggested to expand the distribution of surveys to community events. It was also suggested that names of the individuals completing the survey be included and the surveys be numbered to enable tracking of the number of surveys that have been distributed. It was suggested the Planning Commission have a table set up during the election to encourage people to complete them at that time. Mr. Conway stated based on 33 surveys, Ms. Hobbs and he could not draw conclusions from this small of a sampling of the community. Colleen Hobbs suggested the Planning Commission members take an active role in engaging people to complete the survey. There was discussion of also presenting this survey to the youth. Ms. Hobbs thought it would be constructive to distribute it to the middle school and the high school students. Dave Soulia suggested coming up with a set of questions that are applicable to students. Dave Mills advised that he has some questions that he developed for students at the time the original survey was done. Mr. Conway stated Section 3 also includes vision and he noted that there had been discussion of where the village center is located. Mr. Conway and Ms. Hobbs felt the people living in the village should all be sent a questionnaire as the discussion of the village involves private property and those owners should have input into the Town Plan.
Mr. Conway reported that he provided Anne Pelkey the History section and Ms. Pelkey has agreed to work with the other members of the Historical Society to rewrite it. Mr. Conway will also obtain information regarding the land associated with cemeteries from Rebecca Davenport of the Cemetery Association.
Ann Rademacher suggested including the survey in the next newsletter and possibly printing it in The Reporter. Jeff Biasuzzi suggested speaking with Linda Drummond concerning the insertion of the survey in the newsletter as there could potentially be an additional cost incurred. Ms. Rademacher thought town meeting would be a good place to have the surveys and suggested the churches may be another location where the surveys could be left.
The rewrite of Section 3 – Preparation of the Town Plan will be postponed until additional survey information is received. It was suggested that 300 surveys would be a good representation. Mr. Conway stated 5% would like be a good base and again suggested that the surveys include the name of the preparer going forward. Dave Soulia stated getting feedback in general is good, however, Dollar General is a good catalyst for getting people to participate in the survey. Mr. Conway stated with regard to Dollar General, if it meets the criteria of the zoning, that is what is required. He advised that the Dollar General in Chester had several appeals but it was approved by the Supreme Court as it met all of the requirements of zoning for that specific area. Ms. Hobbs did not think the Planning Commission needs a decisive item to engage people in the survey, but needs to find a location where they can engage the public. Ms. Rademacher suggested it would be good if someone could be present on election day to hand them out. Jeff Biasuzzi provided examples of other towns’ processes for surveys, noting Burke Mountain had a high response by hosting pizza parties and West Rutland did a postcard survey followed up by a community forum. Mr. Conway stated with regard to eminent domain, he does not want to see the Town have something that is so cumbersome. The personal opinions and the attitudes of a Town can have an impact. Mr. Conway stated if things do not get settled at the local level, they can be taken to the Supreme Court. Mr. Conway noted we need competition as it makes people better and gives better service to people. Dave Soulia stated he was mentioning Dollar General as a means of opening up conversations, but he is not necessarily opposed to the business. The Planning Commission needs to encourage the Town to have conversations. Mr. Conway stated from a business standpoint, Dollar General is going to affect his business, but he thinks they have the right to be here.
Dave Mills suggested providing the Recreation section (Page 45) to Randy Adams for updating as to what is available. Jeff Biasuzzi advised Mr. Adams has a good collection of maps and information and he will talk to Mr. Adams regarding the update. The Post Office and Library sections will also be provided to the respective parties for review of those sections. Mr. Biasuzzi questioned if the Planning Commission members are in agreement with the draft of the map from Steve Shield. He would like to have copies made for the vault, one for his office and one spare map. Rick Conway stated this was not the same map as what is in the certified copy of the Plan. It was suggested the map should have a signature line for the Chair of the Planning Commission to sign. Mr. Conway suggested having the attorney review the map to assure that adding the signature line is acceptable. Dave Mills stated there also needs to be clarification that this is the correct map to use. Dave Soulia will obtain information on the Future Land Use map.
With regard to Traditional Land Use Patterns (Page 15), Dave Soulia suggested removing the third paragraph. He stated there are commercial zones which can be in the village. Dave Mills suggested removing commercial that requires tearing down and putting up new buildings. Rick Conway expressed concern that removing the wording will not prevent commercial uses. Colleen Hobbs suggested the section be reworded. Rick Conway stated by establishing village centers, it would provide buildings that utilize the bottom floors as commercial and the top floors would be residential. Kevin Blow proposed taking out some of the special interests. Mr. Conway stated the changes should be considered after additional information is received from the surveys.
Dave Mills reported he met two weeks ago with Ed Bove and went over the layout of Pittsford. There was a discussion of the Forrest farm and the southern portion of Pittsford for zoning those areas for high density to generate business for the Town to avoid sprawl. Mr. Mills stated there is not a lot of space along Route 7 without tearing buildings down and he does not think that village properties should be torn down to obtain smart growth. Colleen Hobbs stated mixed use is becoming quite popular and it is a win-win for towns. Dave Soulia has had a discussion with a lister and was advised that property in Pittsford is taxed the same regardless of whether it is zoned commercial or residential and taxes have to do with what is built on it. Mr. Soulia stated as a community, it needs to be determined how the Town wants to proceed. Ms. Hobbs suggested additional questions be added to the survey. Mr. Conway stated the Town needs to look at job opportunities. He noted there are tremendous opportunities to encourage medical offices in the Town that would also create careers. Mr. Soulia stated the Planning Commission knows what people do not want, but it needs to be determined what people do want that will help stabilize the economy. Ms. Hobbs stated it needs to be determined what is trending now and the Town needs targeted economic development. Mr. Conway suggested tax stabilization from the Town could be a way to attract business. He stated it may be necessary to hire an economic development officer. Dave Soulia encouraged discussion with community members about this subject. It was decided that the Planning Commission members will be present at the November 8th voting for distributing the survey. Dave Soulia will email the Commission members to coordinate times for voting day.
7. Schedule Date for Next Meeting
Special Planning Commission Meeting – December 1, 2016 (In place of the November and December Regular Planning Commission meetings)
A motion was made by Kevin Blow and seconded by Rick Conway to adjourn the Planning Commission meeting at 9:02PM. The motion passed unanimously.
The Pittsford Planning Commission