Board Members Present: David Soulia, Dave Mills, Rick Conway, Chuck Charbonneau, Kevin Blow, Mark Winslow
Board Members Absent: Colleen Hobbs
Also in Attendance: Jeff Biasuzzi, Ed Bove, Hank Pelkey, Dave Trombley, Bob Harnish, John Haverstock, Alicia Malay, Ernie Clerihew
The meeting was called to order at 7:07PM by David Soulia – Chair.
Approval of Agenda
David Soulia stated there has been an updated version of the Pittsford Village Designation Map received with the business names removed, as recommended by the Rutland Regional Planning Commission (RRPC). The current agenda is for the discussion of the proposed RRPC added language and update to the Future Land Use Map and Mr. Soulia suggested adding Item 5, Discussion of Pittsford Village Designation map.
A motion was made by Mark Winslow and seconded by Rick Conway to approve the agenda as amended. The motion passed unanimously.
Dave Soulia requested the public comments be limited to items noted on the agenda, with other items to be discussed during the regular meeting on December 28th. The current proposed Town Plan the Select Board is reviewing has a Future Land Use Map on Page 44 and a new proposed map has been provided. John Haverstock advised there have been two versions of the newer map. Mr. Haverstock advised that unrelated to the Town Plan, the State is requiring towns with a downtown designation to renew every five years. The Town currently has a Village Designation map from the RRPC that was approved by the State in 2007 and was renewed in 2012. With the new state statute, there is a requirement for the Village Designation map to have the outer perimeter of the village noted and the current map does shows that. Mr. Haverstock has worked with Elysa from the RRPC and noted there are three categories for the properties: Business, Civic and Residential. Each of the businesses were specified on the map and it was noted that this has caused controversy. Mr. Haverstock had asked if the business names were required and was advised they are not, therefore a map without the business names was developed and is being submitted to the Planning Commission for consideration. The Planning Commission can advise the Select Board and Town Manager which map will be included in the Town Plan. Mr. Haverstock stated the outer perimeter of the village is on the current map. Rick Conway stated it is to an advantage to having the businesses noted, as long as the map meets the requirement and Mr. Conway thought the Town Plan that was originally approved should be moved forward. Ed Bove stated the Town Plan has to show intent for the designated village center through language and on the Future Land Use map and it does not matter if the map has been put out for a public hearing. If the outline is a little different it is okay and it will satisfy the State. Mr. Haverstock stated the relevance of the map comes into prominence for grant funding. Mark Winslow questioned if the current map is acceptable. Ed Bove stated if it is showing the outline of the village designation it is acceptable and will provide information for grants to do improvements for the Town. Mr. Bove noted the RRPC is recommending improvements for the Village Designation, but the State has the final approval. Jeff Biasuzzi advised the benefits are not just for businesses, but also for residential housing upgrades.
Alicia Malay asked how the public could be advised of the opportunities relating to the Village Designation. David Soulia suggested contacting the Pittsford Town Manager for information. Ed Bove advised this information is also available on the RRPC website.
Review Proposed RRPC Suggested Language Added Language and Update of Future Land Use Map Color
David Soulia noted the Select Board had voted on the proposed Town Plan and advised that the RRPC has questions on the language and the Future Land Use map. Dave Mills stated he would prefer the addition of the wording “but not limited to”, in the suggested RRPC language. Rick Conway noted he had a problem with the language that the village will have a dense development pattern. At a public hearing, Attorney Kuepfer had indicated that the wording “medium density” had no place in the Town Plan. There was a lengthy discussion and it was noted this is more of a zoning issue. There is also not a definition in the Town Plan and Mr. Kuepfer did not feel that this belonged in the Town Plan. Mr. Conway noted it is a zoning issue and it is in the zoning definitions. Mr. Conway felt that the Planning Commission has completed the rewrite, has seen the maps and suggested moving forward with the Town Plan as presented.
David Soulia asked Ed Bove to explain the concept behind the language with regard to having it in the Town Plan, putting it in zoning and/or having the Plan not accepted by RRPC. Ed Bove advised that zoning has to be compatible with the Town Plan. The Town Plan is the visionary document and is supposed to guide zoning. There needs to be regional approval and the RRPC is tasked with approving municipal plans as outlined in statute because the legislature thought the RRPC should look at all the towns to assure they work together. When approving a town plan the RRPC has to assure that it is consistent with the goals outlined in statute 4302, is compatible with both the Regional Plan and the other approved town plans in the region. Mr. Bove advised the Board of Commissioners at the RRPC review the plans to assure they are consistent with statute 4302, review the plan development to assure that it maintains the historic nature. Strip development along highways should be discouraged and economic growth should be encouraged in designated growth centers. The old Future Land Use map showed that because it had an area that was denser in the village. Mr. Bove noted the map shows commercial south, but Route 3 and Route 7 north are less dense. The map should also assure that it is compatible with the regional plan in which the regional plan shows dense areas in the village center and disperses to less dense in the more rural areas on the outer areas of the town. Rick Conway noted concern that the map is dated 2006 and the Town had to change the language that was recommended by the RRPC to comply with their plan that was adopted in 2015, however, the regional map is dated 2007 and the RRPC has the same issue with the map. Mr. Conway also had concern with the color schemes that were provide by Elysa. Mr. Bove noted the color scheme is going to show denser patterns in a darker color. Mr. Bove stated when the Committee looks at the Plan; they are also looking at the plans of the surrounding towns. Mr. Bove had copies of the Brandon, Hubbardton and Chittenden plans and noted the approved plans show a denser area in the village and are less dense as they spread out to rural working areas. He noted even Rutland Town has a denser area and then spreads out to a more rural type land pattern.
Chuck Charbonneau asked where the RRPC would see development in the village when there is no places to develop; noting that it would not be well received to take down historic buildings to construct a strip mall. Mr. Bove noted the Town does not have to get regional approval, as it is not required to do so. Mr. Bove advised that a village center designation is designed to develop growth in the area and the Dollar General would be considered in the village area. Mr. Bove stated there are ways to develop downtowns and state statute is trying to encourage that. It is a lot of reuse and finding spots to do it, and it might be easier now that Act 250 has anti-sprawl criteria. Rick Conway questioned whether the RRPC had received the notification as defined by state statute with regard to the Town Plan adoption process and Mr. Bove confirmed receipt of the documentation. Mr. Conway questioned why the RRPC was not represented during any of the meetings or hearings. Mr. Bove advised that he has been meeting with Mr. Soulia and Mr. Mills and had provided the RRPC’s recommended changes in the language. There had also been a request from the Planning Commission chair to correct the RRPC map regarding Route 3 that currently indicates low density. Rick Conway stated this map is a generalized map, but should reflect potential land use. Mr. Bove noted this is a visionary document and is supposed to show intent. Mr. Conway advised that during the public hearing, there had been a request to change Route 3 back to commercial. It had been determined there were inconsistencies in the documentation and there was extensive discussion held. Steve Schilds had prepared a map so that it could be included in the document for the certificate of service. From the process, the Town received no comments from the surrounding towns. The public hearing was held and the document has been before the Select Board and Mr. Conway noted concern that it is not good procedure to bring things forward at the last minute. Ed Bove stated the compromise would be this map that is created in the letter. The created map would allow the uses but show the density stepping down and the Town would still have zoning in compliance. A good compromise would be to change the map, just showing it in a different way but according to statute. Mr. Bove noted it is difficult to develop in village centers, so this was an attempt to provide the intent to develop by showing it in a way that would satisfy the state requirements and match statute, which would allow for approval. The intent was not to cut back on any land uses.
Mark Winslow noted it would have been better if this information had been provided prior to the public hearing, which is his concern. He sees a change in the language and it is noted that Route 7 south is changed to a medium density. It would have been good to have this for the public to review and he believes the current Plan is the public’s wishes. Mr. Winslow thanked Mr. Bove for the information provided. Dave Mills suggested leaving the language in the Town Plan as is and as far as the map; having the village yellow and the outlying areas red. Rick Conway thought the map should remain as is because the Town Plan expires today. David Soulia asked Mr. Bove what the ramifications would be if the Planning Commission votes to not adopt the proposed RRPC changes to the language and map. Mr. Bove was not sure how the RRPC would vote, but the ramifications could be that the Town would miss grant opportunities and would not be able to renew the Downtown Village Center designation. Hank Pelkey questioned how the Town Plan could be amended if the Select Board approves the proposed Plan. Mr. Bove advised that the Town would have to go through the same adoption process to do an amendment. Dave Trombley asked what the village center consisted of and Mr. Bove advised it would be the entire downtown core. Mark Winslow stated there were 7 suggestions provided before the hearing that were addressed. Mr. Mills noted the RRPC was also supposed to send a letter about the map, but the Planning Commission did not receive it until a month later. Mr. Conway stated there was discussion of changing the regional map, which is what needed to be changed and there had been discussion by the Town to wait until the Town Plan was adopted and then go to the RRPC and get the map changed. Mr. Conway noted the public hearing has already been held and the Town’s attorney is not present, and he is concerned that the medium density language is not clear. David Soulia questioned if there would be ramifications to the Act 250 process if the Town Plan is not adopted by the RRPC. Mr. Bove stated it would only come into play with a substantial regional impact. Jeff Biasuzzi asked what defines a substantial impact and questioned if Dollar General would be considered one. Mr. Bove advised that a substantial regional impact would be an impact on two or more communities. Mr. Biasuzzi asked what the significant difference is from the RRPC proposed map and the Town Plan map. Mr. Soulia advised the biggest difference is that Route 7 south is considered a medium density development versus commercial. When looking at Pittsford, it is dark green and goes to medium density. In addition, Route 3 is deemed low density, as well as along Route 7 north. Mr. Soulia noted it makes no sense how these areas because low density, however, a previous Planning Commission representative must have confirmed that it was low density and at some point, it had been changed. Mr. Soulia believes that research shows the data for RRPC should read Route 3 and Route 7 north be medium density areas, not low density. Mr. Winslow suggested it would make sense to deal with it as an amendment after the Town Plan has been approved. Mr. Bove advised it is the Select Board’s plan and it is up to them whether they want to approve it as is or make the changes. Hank Pelkey noted that at the Select Board hearing, he had motioned to accept the 7 changes and the new map from the RRPC; however, at the meeting tomorrow, he will rescind his motion until the Select Board receives a clearer direction. Jeff Biasuzzi suggested there could be an amendment to the language and an indication that the Planning Commission recognizes a difference in the maps and the Board will work with the RRPC within a specified timeframe to make a change.
A motion was made by Rick Conway and seconded by David Soulia to move forward with what the Planning Commission has proposed that includes the 7 changes recommended by the RRPC. The motion passed unanimously.
Ed Bove stated the RRPC would like to help Pittsford and agreed that he should have attended the Planning Commission’s meetings, as suggested by Mr. Conway. David Soulia appreciated the RRPC’s assistance in this process.
Discuss Pittsford Village Designation Map
Ed Bove stated the Planning Commission does not need to act on this map right now. There is a map that shows intent and the language. Mr. Haverstock noted the Town has until mid-February to readopt the Downtown Village designation. Mr. Bove advised the RRPC has to warn a public hearing on the Pittsford Town Plan that can be done at their January 16th meeting, if the Select Board adopts the plan tomorrow night. Mr. Bove thought the RRPC could potentially give conditional approval noting that could keep the Town from losing the Village Designation.
Schedule Date for Next Meeting
December 28, 2017 @ 7:00PM – Planning Commission Meeting
A motion was made by Mark Winslow and seconded by Rick Conway to adjourn the meeting at 8:08PM. The motion passed unanimously.
The Pittsford Planning Commission