Pittsford Planning Commission Public Hearing
October 19, 2017
Board Members Present: David Soulia, Dave Mills, Rick Conway, Chuck Charbonneau, Kevin Blow, Mark Winslow
Board Members Absent: Colleen Hobbs
Also in Attendance: Thomas “Hank” Pelkey, Atty. Gary Kupferer, Kelly Giard – Recording Secretary, Jeff Biasuzzi – Zoning Administrator
Call to order
The Public Hearing was called to order at 6:00PM by David Soulia – Chair.
Introduction and Outline of Hearing Procedure
Chairman Soulia introduced the members of the Planning Commission and explained the outline of the hearing procedures, which were noted on the Public Hearing Warning that was posted in the Rutland Herald, 3 public places in town and on the town website. There were also copies of the proposed town plan sent via certified mail to the abutting town planning commissions.
The members of the Planning Commission denied any conflicts of interest and ex-parte communication.
Motion by D. Mills and seconded by M. Winslow to adopt the agenda as posted. Motion passed unanimously 6 – 0.
The Definition of Interested Persons was read by Atty. Kupferer.
The public in attendance denied any testimony.
Open Floor for Discussion
D. Mills reported the Rutland Regional Planning Commission reviewed the proposed town plan and submitted the following comments:
- Outreach needs to have a paragraph on the survey that was conducted at Pittsford Day
- Photos need to be labelled
- List the members that serve on the Commission
- Date for the Regional Plan is 6/15.
- Pg 4 – last paragraph needs to mention child care.
The following written testimony was received from Rula Moradi via e-mail:
The Planning Commission has worked hard all year and is seeking public input during the October 19, 2017 meeting. Since I am currently out of town, I want to assure you that I do plan to formally submit my input to the team.
The Vermont Planning and Development Act (the Act), Title 24, Chapter 117 is an outstanding set of rules and guidelines. Amongst the many things, the Act promotes community and individual prosperity and safety. The Act makes it crystal clear that road and zoning changes must always be in support of the overall plan – the Town Plan.
While you are systematically and methodically following the process of planning, it is imperative that everyone including the leadership of this town knows and agrees that the Town Plan sets the vision, goals, rules and laws for Pittsford. No one should be allowed to violate these rules and laws unless there is firm justification for doing so. Changes to a road cannot and must not be arbitrarily made particularly when it harms the safety and financial well being of the affected people, and the town as a whole. Making arbitrary changes becomes a serious offense when there is conflict of interest. Failure to adhere to the Act will result in the loss of confidence by the public and the planning process will become useless.
The Act was violated when our public servant and his boss decided on their own to bypass the process and implement their own plans. They violated all sorts of rules and laws, they made numerous errors, they deliberately put lives at risk and they did it by misusing and abusing public funds. They have claimed and deliberately misinformed the public that they did it for public safety, and that the board had approved their decision. If any member of the board gave the go ahead for their decision, the approval was outside of the board room, making the approval illegitimate. Moreover, the ones who carried it out should have known that it was improper. The facts are undisputed and are on public display via PEG TV video recordings.
Opening up a permanently dead-end Old Hubbardton road has divided the community beyond repair at an already cost of multimillion dollars to the people of Pittsford. Yet, it is often been referred to as $8,000, $16,000 or as high as $30,000 cost. The costs and the divide will increase once this deal goes into legal action. I was trained to challenge the comptrollers and the Chief Financial Officers of major corporations when it came to quantifying costs, benefits and risks, and I did it regularly. The public needs to understand their true costs of these unplanned activities.
I have included the text of my statement at the board meeting of September 20 at the end of this memo because the meeting minutes do not accurately reflect the facts. My statement of September 20 along with Brad Rousseau and Tom Browe can still be viewed on PEG TV, on demand.
Please feel free to use any part of this memo at your public hearing of October 19. I’ll also provide additional information so long as it is beneficial to the public.
Here is the text of my comments.
Contrary to our traditional belief against using legal action in the past, we believe that hiring a private attorney is the only choice at this point because:
- The community has been divided beyond repair – and
- The management system is in disarray, requiring a massive clean up
Meanwhile the people in this town are being completely misinformed. The amount of misinformation through gossip and lies are completely out of control. The situation is becoming dangerous and needs to be properly managed. Yet the management itself is in a total chaos.
How did we ever get to this point?
Let’s take a look.
It all began, I believe, at select board meeting of May 4, 2016.
I was personally in this room and sitting right next to Shawn during that meeting. John opened the road discussion and specifically stated that the goal was NOT to open up this road.
- The focal point of that discussion was to making the road “passable” for the road crew’s emergency operations only
- It was also stated that this part of the road would not be maintained
- It was specifically stated that the spare material was already available
- It was stated that the crew could handle the work on their spare time
- Questions were asked if the neighbors should be asked. The response was that it wasn’t necessary
- The whole discussion was so insignificant and I don’t think that it even went into motion – and probably because Shawn was not asking for any additional resources
Now, how that little discussion turned into a massive workload including wanting to turn the whole road into a class 3 road some 14 months later is alarming.
Digging deep and learning about the vast amounts of unethical conducts and breach of various laws makes the whole situation unnerving, demoralizing and terrifying.
Finally when Shawn stood up during the August 23 meeting and lectured the taxpayers in an arrogant manner while pointing to the select board and stating that the board was his team and decisions were made jointly and for safety reasons. This made the board complicit in all the acts, particularly since Shawn was not challenged.
I used to like Shaw a lot and have praised him and his crew on numerous occasions.
I continue to blame the leadership and the management system. Shawn may have been used as a scapegoat in this situation.
There is not a single day that goes by when we don’t have multiple chances for a fatal accident on this road, and EVERYONE knows it! We have avoided an accident so far for two reasons:
- We have simply been lucky so far and we have had some close calls – and
- Some of us have stopped living the lifestyle we have paid dearly for
For the reasons that I have stated, pursuing the legal option seems to be the best choice at this time.
On a separate note, I will soon be filing an ethical conduct complaint letter with the office of Secretary of States.
In addition, I am evaluating other avenues because I believe in the law, and I will pursue it with all of my energies.
Atty Kupferer inquired the relevance to the hearing and it was agreed that this email had no relevance.
D. Soulia explained that on October 17, the RRPC had a concern of Route 7 north and Route 3 being classified as commercial. The RRPC maps show high density growth in the village. D. Mills stated that Route 3 was left Rural Commercial allowing for the combination of housing and commercial. A letter from the RRPC will be forthcoming to the Planning Commission and the Select Board to discuss these concerns. Atty. Kupferer read the definition of Rural Commercial and feels that the Zoning Definitions are adequate. D. Soulia stated that the Regional Plan and the Future Use Map are the conflicts with this and that the RRPC is saying that the Town Plan language clarifies commercial. M. Winslow agrees with Atty. Kupferer and that the focus is within the village and will restore what was originally removed, which is what the citizens requested. Commercial changing “north to equal south”. Atty. Kupferer stated that the Future Land Use Map, page 42, commercial is listed as Route 7 north, south and Route 3. The Plan is not as specific as the Zoning Regulations. R. Conway agrees with M. Winslow. Select Board member Gagnon and other business owners requested the change to compliment the Zoning and Town Plan. R. Conway inquired if the RRPC had maps available. D. Mills indicated that there were no maps available. R. Conway stated that he had map copies that were received from the RRPC showing Route 3 as Rural Commercial; Route 7 to Turners and Route 7 south to the town line as being Rural Commercial and the proposal is to extend the north to the town line. The Pittsford map does not align with the RRPC map. M. Winslow stated that if grants were the only loss of not having an approved town plan there is no issue.
M. Winslow feels that the Planning Commission is taking the proper steps by using the comments that are received from the citizens. D. Soulia stated that he is working with Ed Bove regarding the maps. D. Soulia stated that the ramifications of not having the town plan in place is not eligible for RRPC grants and the Act 250 projects need compatible maps and this inconsistency could mess the hearings.
Atty Kupferer inquired if the plan was in line with Zoning Regulations. R. Conway inquired if the motion/vote would include the changes. D. Mills stated that the only action was to send the letter of recommendation to the Select Board.
R. Conway stated that a previous Planning Commission changed land in Florence by eliminating the Rural Commercial designation in town and read minutes from the September 5, 2013 public hearing.
R. Conway stated that the maps need to be numbered and titled.
The Planning Commission directed Atty Kupferer to research the necessary criteria.
Motion by M. Winslow and seconded by D. Mills to close the public Hearing at 7:01 PM. Motion passed unanimously 6 – 0.
The Pittsford Planning Commission