Special Pittsford Planning Commission Meeting
June 15, 2017
Board Members Present: David Soulia, Dave Mills, Rick Conway, Chuck Charbonneau, Mark Winslow, Kevin Blow
Board Members Absent: Colleen Hobbs
Also in Attendance: Jeff Biasuzzi – Zoning Administrator
- Call to order
The meeting was called to order at 7:04PM by David Soulia – Chair.
- Approval of Agenda
A motion was made by Dave Mills and seconded by Kevin Blow to approve the agenda. The motion passed unanimously.
- Approval of Minute
April 13, 2017 Special Planning Commission Meeting
A motion was made by Kevin Blow and seconded by Chuck Charbonneau to approve the minutes of April 13, 2017. The motion passed with one abstention – Mark Winslow.
May 25, 2017 Special Planning Commission Meeting
A motion was made by Kevin Blow and seconded by Chuck Charbonneau to approve the minutes of May 25, 2017. The motion passed with one abstention – Mark Winslow.
- Public Comments
There were no public comments.
- Continue Town Plan Updating Process
a. Agriculture Section
Mark Winslow read the following proposed changes to the Agriculture/Forestry Section:
“Pittsford remains a rural area with a variety of active farm businesses. After decades of being primarily dairy, agriculture in Pittsford is becoming much more diverse. Agriculture needing to be a very fluid entity, change will be the one constant. The world of commodity agriculture relies heavily on the economies of scale, and Pittsford’s land base is too limited to compete effectively. There is a current trend in Vermont of more interest in growing food and products that will be consumed near to where they are produced.
Much of the agricultural land in Pittsford is located in the Otter Creek floodplain. With new water quality regulations and the disappearance of animal agriculture, there is a possibility that these acres may no longer be used for agriculture. The town recognizes that these changes could result in “new” agricultural enterprises evolving to meet market demand.
Forestry remains a critical component of the lands within Pittsford. Along with lumber production, maple syrup, firewood, and possibly biomass, the forestry industry is extremely important to the town. The scenic forested hills and valleys provide not only panoramic vistas for residents and visitors alike, they also provide habitat for many species of both game and nongame animals.
The town recognizes that both Agriculture and Forestry are important assets to Pittsford. These industries provide jobs, sustenance, working landscape, recreation opportunities, and aesthetic appeal to the character of the town. The town also recognizes that the “look” of these industries will be different than in decades past.”
Mr. Winslow will proof the document for grammatical changes and email to the Planning Commission members for review, with action to be taken at the next meeting.
b. Future Land Use Map
David Soulia stated dating back to January of last year through this year, there has been discussion of changing Route 3 and Route 7 north to commercial. The Planning Commission voted to change the zoning map to change Route 3 and Route 7 north to commercial. The Planning Commission had received approval from the Regional Planning Commission to change Route 3, but not Route 7. There has been extensive research done in trying to check the history of the maps and the warnings. It was determined the best course of action would be to bring the maps back to the1989 maps, as there are no records of the changes and it was determined the changes could not all be done because of the future land use map in the Town Plan.
Rick Conway stated the current town plan map does not exist in the town plan. The town plan that is on file and on the website does not have it. There were issues with the previous Planning Commission where the town plan was not adopted properly and the land use map was not adopted or listed in the table of contents. There are two town plan maps that were in the vault and the attorneys have them, but they are not consistent. Dave Mills stated at this point there is no future land use map, but it is needed in the town plan and a recommendation was made to develop one. Mr. Conway stated the Planning Commission needs to make sure that it does not contradict the current zoning map. David Soulia stated the future land use map can be developed by using the current zoning map, plus additional items the Town would like to see on it for the future. Mr. Conway stated for purposes of Act 250, if the town plan is in effect, that is what they go by and as long as the future land use map meets or expands, it should be okay. Chuck Charbonneau recommended changing the zoning map at the same time as the changes being made to the town plan to make things simple and to assure that everything is consistent. It was the consensus of the Planning Commission to do both the town plan map and the zoning map at the same time.
Rick Conway stated Jim Carvey has asked him what the Planning Commission is doing about changing the designation for Route 3. It was noted that the Planning Commission will be considering this amendment when doing the town plan. It was also noted that there were citizens that had requested both Route 7 and Route 3.
David Soulia stated in Florence there is an industrial zone and if there is the desire to put solar in the industrial zone, the Planning Commission may want to expand the industrial zone. He noted some of the land has quarries and at one point, some of it was industrial and was taken out. Rick Conway suggested running this change by Omya to determine if they are in agreement with the change. Dave Mills stated the 1989 map versus the current map, there is a section that was taken out and could not be located. David Soulia stated in the research he has done, in looking at the industrial zone in the northwest zone, there are many properties that have quarries and the zoning indicates that quarries should be in industrial. Kevin Blow also suggested advising the landowners in the area about the change. The Zoning Administrator stated if the quarries were not registered before 1988, they would have to go through Act 250.
Rick Conway read the following email that he had received from Steve Schild of the Regional Planning Commission and provided a copy of the map outlined in the email:
“Attached you will find a land use map based on the town’s grand list data and an excel file which lists each category of land use and all of the entries from the grand list that fall into each category with acreage summaries.
I came up with the land use categories from the grand list. The breakdowns show every entry in the grant list and what category of land use it is in. These breakdowns are my interpretation of the data, it can easily be changed to reflect what the planning commission thinks. For example, we can move entries to different land use category or we can add/remove land use categories. Whatever the planning commission would like. It’s a lot of data to look through. Please review the map and excel sheet and let me know your thoughts…Thanks..Steve”
Mr. Conway stated his intent was to obtain information in pie chart format that would provide a different view of the percentages of land use. Dave Mills noted inaccuracies and stated the industrial zone is coded as commercial/residential. Mark Winslow stated the area around his property is not correct and there are many mistakes on the map. Mr. Mills stated most of his land is outlined as residential and it is primarily farmland. It was suggested to obtain the correct figures on the percentages of zoning areas to enable the development of accurate pie charts.
In summary, the proposed changes to the future land use map and zoning map would include changing Route 3 to the Proctor line to rural commercial and expanding commercial on Route 7 north to the Brandon line and changing to an industrial zone from the Velco transition line as the western boundary and Otter Creek as the eastern boundary. David Soulia stated whether it is a quarry in use or not, it is still a quarry. It was suggested the industrial zone could be defined as the south end of the western boundary be the Velco transition line and the north end could be the Conservation zone, with both running to Otter Creek. It was recommended to notate the changes on the existing map for review and action of the proposed future land use map at the next meeting. David Soulia volunteered to make the proposed changes and distribute to the Planning Commission members to review prior to the next meeting. Rick Conway will contact Steve Schild to clarify the map that was provided by the Rutland Regional Planning Commission. Dave Mills suggested trying to obtain the pie chart as the map that was provided will be confusing.
c. Economic Section
David Soulia did not have an opportunity to do his portion of the Economic section.
Mark Winslow read the following proposed draft changes to the Economic section:
“Economic Development has been virtually at a standstill in Pittsford for the last 30 years. Although some businesses have changed owners or new types of business have gone into existing locations, virtually no new business structures have been added. This unlike our neighbors Brandon and Rutland Town.
Pittsford has often been considered a bedroom community to Rutland. Pittsford hosts many small businesses, but also few critical larger companies that provide many jobs. Omya, is the largest contributor at 200 jobs. Markowski Excavating, VT State Police and Fire Academy, Querry Industries, Valliancourt Tree Service, and Mitchell’s Tees are examples of other mid-sized businesses contributing important employment opportunities.
Growing employment opportunity in Pittsford is critical to the financial health of the town of Pittsford. Rutland county population has been in a decline from 2010-2015 and is expected to decline further in the next 5 years. It is very important for good jobs to be created and available to the town’s young people entering the workforce, rather than losing our best young people to other areas in Vermont, and other states.
Pittsford has been at the forefront of preserving many acres to be wild areas. Pittsford also has many acres of woodland that is steep and unsuitable for development. These acres will enhance Pittsford’s wild beauty for decades to come. In that the village is primarily residential and will have ability to only become very limited with new commercial development due to historical designation, lack of acres, and lack of potential sewer. A village support area will need to extend to the south on Rte 7and Rte 3 and to the north on Route 7 to support new business.
Commercial support assessment is needed to look at these areas to fit a growing economic base. New housing opportunities can fit into other town side roads with some road front opportunity for new construction. Act 250 has greatly suppressed growth and economic opportunity.
Pittsford as a town should help potential businesses and employers work through the complex and over reaching rules of Act 250 to encourage new development that fits Pittsford’s character.
Pittsford’s natural setting of mountains on both sides of the Otter Creek travelling through will always ensure Pittsford’s rural character. By enhancing the commercial and industrial area already in place, Pittsford has a great opportunity to grow, logically.
– Establish a pro-business and job growth initiative
– Target to double the jobs available in Pittsford in the next 10 years
– Support village as what it is, historical and residential.”
Mr. Winslow will email the members of the Planning Commission a draft copy for further review and action at the next meeting.
Rick Conway was not in agreement with the statement about 30 years of no growth, as there have been several new businesses. Mark Winslow stated there have been switches in several of the businesses, but no new business grown. Mr. Conway stated there have been improvements to businesses that have grown the tax base for the town. Mr. Winslow noted the area needs jobs as there are many youth leaving the area due to the lack of employment. David Soulia agreed with Mr. Winslow’s draft as existing businesses may have expanded or altered, but there are not many new businesses being developed. Mr. Soulia suggested the Town could move to a sub-sub-division zoning as a way of dealing with Act 250, except for the pre-existing Act 250 areas. The Zoning Administrator stated presently Pittsford is considered a one-acre town and could work towards a ten-acre town where projects with 10 acres or less will not involve Act 250. Dave Mills stated he does not see any new businesses coming into Town to provide new jobs and noted the Planning Commission may want to revise this draft slightly. Mr. Conway advised the state is working on stricter water regulations. Mr. Winslow noted if Act 250 is affecting the economic viability of the Town, he felt that it should be stated in the town plan. Mr. Soulia questioned if the decision is made to go with a 10-acre regulation, would it need to be stated in the town plan in order to do that. The Zoning Administrator stated it could be established as an action plan and a goal. Mr. Conway advised Act 250 could still come into play even though there are subdivision regulations. If an Act 250 coordinator makes a determination that the use requires an Act 250 permit, it is the same process as the Zoning Administrator making a decision on an application and would require an appeal within 15 days. Mr. Soulia noted he was advised by a representative of Act 250, if a town is a one-acre town Act 250 has jurisdiction; however if a town is a ten-acre town, Act 250 is hands off. Mr. Winslow encouraged the Planning Commission to take action on Act 250 and encourage the state to make changes. The Town of Pittsford’s census is down 1.4% from the 2010 census and if the economy is good by 2030 the population’s projected reduction is 5.4% and if the economy is bad, the population is projected to be a 12.3% reduction. Chuck Charbonneau suggested tax stabilization would be helpful in growing business in the Town. Mr. Winslow stated there has to be some actions when it comes to economics, to create real jobs to help grow the Town. Mr. Winslow felt this is a very critical part of the town plan and he would like the Planning Commission members to review and provide input. Rick Conway will contact Rula Moradi for assistance with the town plan rewrite.
d. Housing Section
David Soulia questioned if the Planning Commission members were in agreement with the proposed changes. Dave Mills noted the Planning Commission had discussed the town plan was going to also include updated figures in this section. Mr. Soulia will resend the information to the Planning Commission members for review. This item was tabled for discussion at the next meeting.
e. Pittsford Cemetery
Rick Conway read the following letter received from David Barnard, Superintendent for the Pittsford Cemetery Association:
“It is our understanding that back in the late 70’s or early 80’s an agreement was reached with the State of Vermont for a plot of land which the state owned in back of the current town offices to be used by the Town for a nature preserve and a non-denominational cemetery for the residents of the Town of Pittsford. As far as we know to this point, nothing has been done in regards to planning this cemetery. We feel that since a new town plan is currently being drafted that this should certainly be included in the new town plan for the future. It is our understanding this is what was to be done with this land when the agreement was originally reached. This agreement should be recorded in the Select Board minutes somewhere. There are currently lots still available in both Evergreen and St. Alphonsus cemeteries, but sometime in the future all available lots will be gone and the Town will need to have a new cemetery for the Town’s residents. We feel that it is important this land is included in the new town plan and used for what it was designated for. Respectfully submitted; Davis S. Barnard, Superintendent for Pittsford Cemetery Association.”
David Soulia suggested Rick Conway reach out to the Select Board to determine if this is something that can be added to the town plan. It was agreed the Planning Commission should confirm this information prior to adding the section to the town plan.
6. Schedule Date for Next Meeting
July 27, 2017 @ 7:00PM – Planning Commission Meeting
A motion was made by Dave Mills and seconded by Mark Winslow to adjourn the meeting at 8:45PM. The motion passed unanimously.
The Pittsford Planning Commission