Pittsford Planning Commission Meeting
May 25, 2017
Board Members Present: David Soulia, Dave Mills, Rick Conway, Chuck Charbonneau
Board Members Absent: Colleen Hobbs, Mark Winslow, Kevin Blow
Also in Attendance: Jeff Biasuzzi – Zoning Administrator, Anne Rademacher
- Call to order
- The meeting was called to order at 7:03PM by David Soulia – Chair.
- Approval of Agenda
- A motion was made by David Mills and seconded by Rick Conway to approve the agenda as amended. The motion passed unanimously.
- Add Wrap-up on the Hitchcock Site Plan Review
- Switch Energy Section and History Section Discussion of the Town Plan
- Add Rutland Regional Planning Commission Field Report
- Approval of Minutes
- April 13, 2017 Special Planning Commission Meeting
The April 13, 2017 special meeting minutes were tabled for approval at the next meeting.
- April 27, 2017 Special Planning Commission Meeting
A motion was made by Rick Conway and seconded by David Mills to approve the minutes of April 27, 2017. The motion passed unanimously.
- April 13, 2017 Special Planning Commission Meeting
- Public Comments
- Anne Rademacher stated with regard to the energy section and maps that the state sent out, it was her understanding that the Rutland Regional Planning Commission does not want any industrial wind in the county. Ms. Rademacher asked if the Town is going to follow suit to indicate the Town of Pittsford is also opposed to wind in the town as well. Mr. Soulia advised this will be discussed during the Town Plan review.
- Hitchcock Site Plan Review
- Jeff Biasuzzi advised that he sent the Committee members a draft of the subdivision application that the Committee had rendered a decision on. The Zoning Administrator will fix the document changing the wording from the ZBA to Planning Commission. The Planning Commission Chair signed the document for the Hitchcock permit for the site plan subdivision. The Zoning Administrator can now proceed with the process.
- Rutland Regional Planning Commission (RRPC) Field Report
- Dave Mills reported Ethan Swift was present at the RRPC meeting. Mr. Swift is a water coordinator for the state and provided a review of the state’s programs. Mr. Mills advised the Town might need river corridor bylaws and a storm water master plan once the town plan is done. Mr. Swift advised that if the Town has important water resources to be sure they are noted in the town plan. There was also discussion of a road erosion inventory and Mr. Mills was not sure if Pittsford has one or not. The Town may have to look into these items.
- With regard to the Energy Committee, there was a review of sections 5, 6 and 7 of the regional energy report. There was not a lot of contention, except in section 5 that speaks to removing top soil and piling it up. Mr. Mills and the Rutland Town Rep had indicated it might not be good to keep subsoil there. Mr. Mills apologized concerning the calculations on the acreage for the proposed energy requirements for Rutland County as they were sometimes talking about megawatts and sometimes megawatt hours. What they are looking for is 2000 acres that are needed in Rutland County that would be divided by the towns and amount for Pittsford is 80 acres of solar power for the Rutland County solar requirement. Rick Conway asked if the RRPC has an energy plan that has been approved and it was noted they do not. Mr. Conway also asked if the RRPC has submitted their plan to the Commissioner of Public Service for approval and it was noted they have not. Mr. Mills stated Pittsford will have the option of doing an actual energy plan for the Town of Pittsford that will give the town due deference. Mr. Conway stated before anything can be approved on the energy section, the RRPC plan would have to be in force and in reading the bill that has been passed, a municipal legislative body can submit once a regional plan is submitted. Mr. Conway noted the municipal legislative body would be the Select Board and questioned if the RRPC has been in touch with the Select Board. Mr. Mills stated neither the RRPC nor the Planning Commission has been in contact with the Select Board. Mr. Conway stated until RRPC gets their approval pursuant to 4348a3, Pittsford could not complete its energy plan.
- Continue Town Plan Updating Process
- Review/Finalize History Section
Dave Mills asked if this is an addendum or a complete History section. Rick Conway stated this is being added to what is existing in the Town Plan and will be added to the end of the History Section.
A motion was made by Dave Mills and seconded by Chuck Charbonneau to approve the History Section. The motion passed unanimously.
- Review/Finalize Energy Section
Dave Mills stated the RRPC is trying to get their draft plan done and they want input from the towns as to what each town would want. They are giving the towns the opportunity to provide input on what they would like or would not like in the plan. The RRPC energy plan has to be completed by the first part of June. The RRPC had requested an extension; however, Mr. Mills has not received confirmation of an extension. The public hearings will be done once their plan is submitted to the state for approval. Rick Conway asked if a town is being excluded if industrial wind is being excluded. Mr. Mills advised there had been previous discussion of trade-offs if there was a particular energy source that was not desirable in the town. Mr. Conway questioned the integrity of the process that is going on and noted he is going to call RRPC to clarify, with the main issue being what is represented on the RRPC website. Mr. Conway expressed concern of how the Planning Commission can provide input when they cannot get the proper information from the RRPC website. The Planning Commission needs to solicit the townspeople to get their input. Mr. Mills stated the town can choose to do nothing and the RRPC will go with what they have as far as the maps. He noted because of the conservation zones in the zoning regulations; it is going to be difficult to put any of these industrial items in the conservation zones. It will be difficult to put a large solar site or wind tower due to the canopy and the town has legitimate reasons for not putting anything in the conservation zones that have been protected since 1989. Mr. Conway stated the town encouraged renewable energy in the past and he is not sure if they would be subject to regulation by the town. Mr. Mills stated the town has screening requirements that could also be used for solar and wind. The town has an industrial zone and the town could say it prefers solar be put in the industrial zone. It was noted the Markowski project would count towards the town’s requirement that would be about one-quarter of the requirement. Chuck Charbonneau stated the energy maps provided are very confusing. David Soulia stated the sites are noted and the landowners have the options to place solar in their areas. It was noted there are several industrial size installation locations in the rural area of Pittsford. Mr. Charbonneau stated he has talked with several people with regard to the Markowski solar project and they are not in favor of it. He expressed concern the state will ultimately require people to spend money to become energy efficient. Mr. Soulia stated the RRPC is requesting feedback, but it is not required to provide any. Mr. Mills stated this is being introduced and if the town does not provide any kind of specifications, if there comes a time that the state mandates these items, it could potentially be better to have specifications. Mr. Mills noted the Planning Commission is only making a suggestion to RRPC, but it does not mean that it may ever go into the areas. Mr. Mills stated if the town agrees to the state maps, the solar can go anywhere it is noted. Mr. Conway stated the Planning Commission needs more information in a written format, as he understands there is a RRPC plan in effect and energy is part of it. This will need to be submitted in an amendment form and once the plan is approved, they have the opportunity to amend. If the towns do something, it has to comply with the regional plan. This is a very complicated process and he thinks what needs to be done is to figure out what the RRPC energy plan is before the Pittsford plan is developed. Anne Rademacher stated the Public Service Board has given the towns the opportunity to make exclusions on industrial wind, but the Planning Commission has to respond by the end of the month or else the state is going to move forward with the current maps. Mr. Mills stated in Section 5 of the energy resource maps, the RRPC is not calculating wind resource areas for its renewable energy targets. Due to technological advances, wind generation is possible to be generated at lower elevations and it appears the state has given the RRPC the leeway to keep the wind out of the plan. Mr. Conway stated there is concern with the decibel level of wind generation. Mr. Conway stated all types of renewal energy technology need to be included and he wants to make sure that the right representation is made. Mr. Soulia stated regardless of what the act says; the state is directing all regional planning commissions to make changes. By the end of this meeting, the local Planning Commission has to agree that it is good with the maps, if no recommendations are provided to the RRPC. Mr. Conway reiterated he would like to see the language that is going to be submitted to the state. Mr. Soulia stated by default if the Planning Commission does not provide RRPC any input, the maps would move forward as submitted. Mr. Soulia stated it is known that the Town does not want wind on the ridgelines and that message can be sent to the RRPC. Mr. Soulia stated it is the Planning Commission’s responsibility to assure the ridgelines are included in the feedback. Mr. Mills stated the only input the Planning Commission is providing is where the Town does and doe not want renewable energy and any other issues can be addressed during the RRPC’s public hearings. Anne Rademacher noted her understanding was the only thing the RRPC is asking for is the reaction to the energy maps and that is the only thing the Planning Commission has to come up with currently. Mr. Conway suggested the Planning Commission get the Select Board on board with this item. Mr. Mills stated most of the places on his property that are noted on the map for solar are trees and ledge, and he assumes that it is probably the same situation for many properties in the town. Mr. Soulia stated he looks at the maps as areas the state considers good, bad, indifferent for wind and lists the various areas that have the best solar sitings. His concern is that this is the Planning Commission’s opportunity, after input from the townspeople with respect to wind, to say that the town would encourage small homeowner wind turbines, but not wind on the ridgelines. Ms. Rademacher thought most people would be acceptable with the small ones. Mr. Mills stated the RRPC’s wattage is broken down with residential being less than or equal to 10 kilowatts, commercial is less than 100 kilowatts and utility is greater than 1 megawatt. Mr. Conway stated there needs to be a plan of what is going to happen to the solar panels after end of life. Mr. Mills encouraged the Planning Commission to come up with some input, even to say that the town does not want anything in the conservation zone. Jeff Biasuzzi suggested telling the state that the towns do not have sufficient information to make a decision and request that additional information be provided to enable a town to make a decision. Mr. Mills noted with regard to hydro potential there is indication on the map of a dam that no longer exists near Sugar Hollow. Mr. Soulia stated the RRPC wants input on where Pittsford stands on wind and solar potential. Mr. Mills suggested the town could indicate nothing in the conservation zones and where smaller scale wind and solar is going to go, the town needs more information; however, by providing no input, it means that the town agrees with the maps. Mr. Charbonneau’s concern was that the state may limit items that are not indicated in the town plan. Mr. Conway stated the Public Service Board has to review the language that is in the town plans, but it does not guarantee that a site will not be approved. Mr. Conway is concerned with not knowing what the RRPC plan reads before making any decisions. It was noted the only prime areas for wind are the Goat Farm Road and Sagamon Road, which are both in the conservation districts. Mr. Conway reiterated he did not feel comfortable making a decision without more information. Anne Rademacher noted concerned for not only the people, but also other wildlife with how wind power is going to affect them and suggested not putting wind in the town at all and go along with what RRPC wants to do. Mr. Mills noted the town does not want utility or commercial scale on the ridgelines for wind. Mr. Conway questioned who at the state is at the forefront of this effort and Mr. Mills noted no one knows where the data came from that was used in the development of the maps.A motion was made by Dave Mills and seconded by David Soulia to present to Rutland Regional Planning Commission that Pittsford shall not allow industrial wind in the conservation zones; with wind or industrial solar in other areas of the town, the Planning Commission does not have enough information available to make a decision on that for a proposal that has a long-term and significant impact on the community. In conclusion, this decision is based on fact that the maps and accompanying documentation are inadequate to make a long-term and lasting decision. The motion passed unanimously.
- Review/Finalize History Section
- Schedule Date for Next Meeting
June 15, 2017 @ 7:00PM – Special Planning Commission Meeting
A motion was made by Dave Mills and seconded by Chuck Charbonneau to adjourn the meeting at 9:04PM. The motion passed unanimously.
The Pittsford Planning Commission