Board Members Present: David Soulia, Kevin Blow, Dave Mills, Mark Winslow, Chuck Charbonneau, Ted Gillen, Rick Conway
Also in Attendance: Tharon Malay, Baird Morgan, Betsy Morgan, Tammy Hitchcock
- Call to order
The meeting was called to order at 7:03PM by Dave Mills – Chair.
- Approval of Agenda
A motion was made by David Soulia and seconded by Mark Winslow to approve the agenda, as amended. The motion passed.
After Public Comments, add Board Chair Comments on Rutland Regional Planning Commission (RRPC)
- Approval of Minute
. April 26, 2018
A motion was made by David Soulia and seconded by Mark Winslow to approve the minutes of the April 26, 2018 meeting. The motion passed.
- Public Comments
Betsy and Baird Morgan were present to discuss and clarify any questions the Planning Commission has about the Village Farm. Mr. Morgan advised this project initiated in the 1990s when people commented the Forrest Farm could be a potential village center and this project has evolved from that concept. Ms. Morgan provided an update noting it has been a year since they started the project and have an active working group of people. Through the vote and public meetings, three main items were chosen that the Town needs: 1) agriculture or community garden, 2) small retail that will bring money into the Town and 3) a village center. The task force has done a lot of research to see what other towns have done. They have a 501C3 non-profit status, a Board of Directors and are currently getting organized. The community garden has been turned over and there are 15 people signed up for plots. It is for Pittsford residents only and has a $25.00 base fee. Bruce Pyle is chairing that task force. Baird Morgan advised the project has received a lot of good PR for Pittsford. They have met many young people in town that are engaged and are helping to lead the charge on this project. The towns of Wallingford and Proctor, which are similar to Pittsford, have indicated they are going to start doing the same thing. A website is being developed, pittsfordvillagefarm.org. Mr. Baird invited the Planning Commission to visit. Tammy Hitchcock stated the Village Farm has put a fire under many people to help benefit the Town through agriculture, art and businesses. They are looking to host events at the farm that will help to pull the community together.
Dave Mills questioned the size of the lots for the community garden and was advised there are about twenty 8’ x 20’ plots. Gabby LaGrange, an OV student, has painted a garden sign for the area. The house has a new roof and they are in the process of repainting it. The interior has to be completely gutted. Mr. Mills asked where the events would be held, as it would be good to pull people from other areas to Town. The task force is in line with this concept and the first couple of years will be outdoor events, as they do not have a venue for inside events at this point. The older part of the house dates back to the 1790’s and the barn dates back to the early 1800’s with both house and barn having additions. Outdoor events could be fireworks, concerts, art shows, with the task force open to ideas that people have. Ms. Baird noted events take planning, organization and funds and they will be doing some fundraising to assist in this effort. There would be substantial funding required to do repairs on both the house and the barn. If used for agricultural purpose, the barn would be fine. There was a suggestion from an engineer to remove the newer section and work on the original barn. There have been assessments done, but it will not be known what to do with the buildings until it is determined what the buildings will be used for. Dave Mills suggested a gym that could have multiple uses. Mark Winslow suggested the group talk with Randy Adams. Mr. Baird advised there have been discussions with individuals from the Designated Village Center and was advised there is grant money available. Ms. Morgan stated there was a review of the Brookfield Community Center that raised money to start their project. Rick Conway stated Kevin Blow, Dave Mills, Tharon Malay and he attended the Annual Vermont Planning Seminar and noted projects like this are going to have a tough battle. With the new Vermont Energy Program, there are permits needed and Mr. Conway suggested the group review the legislation. He stated storm water runoff would be another issue because the State is changing from 3 acres, to 1 acre to then .3 acre. Associated with the permits are fees that will be calculated using square footage of roofs that will then have an assessment each year. Mr. Baird stated they are aware of these issues and will have discussion with Representative Shaw.
Tharon Malay reported the Town’s task force met for the second time. They are still trying to get their bearings on how the process works. There were concerns about the first agenda and Mr. Malay noted that going forward he would like to copy the Planning Commission prior to posting the task force agenda. Tammy Hitchcock stated the objective to aid the Planning Commission, not be a detriment. Rick Conway stated in reviewing the task force minutes, it indicated Joe Gonyea had seconded a motion. Mr. Malay clarified that at the initial meeting, Joe Gonyea, John Haverstock and Hank Pelkey were present to discuss the role of the task force, but Mr. Gonyea is not a member of the committee. David Soulia stated since there was reference to changes on Route 7 South, the Planning Commission has to address those types of comments, so it is good to clarify items with the Planning Commission. Mr. Malay will send the agenda for future meetings of the task force to the Planning Commission.
- Board Chair Comments on Rutland Regional Planning Commission (RRPC)
Dave Mills advised the RRPC is in the process of amending the regional plan. There is question whether the Town of Pittsford was warned properly of this process. The statute indicates the notice has to be sent to the chair of the legislative body and the first time Mr. Mills heard of this was at the RRPC’s amendment process public hearing. It had been advised that an email had been sent to Hank Pelkey; however, Mr. Pelkey does not recall receiving it. The RRPC is amending their Energy Plan and adding a map of the contiguous forest for Act 171. There has been no discussion about the map and the only thing discussed at the hearing was the Energy Plan. Mr. Mills will be attending the June 6th Select Board meeting to discuss this item, as he is not comfortable with the way things have been handled regarding the map, Energy Plan and the warning issue. Mark Winslow also noted concern about the warning. Mr. Mills is concerned with being the delegate from Pittsford, as he does not agree with the way this is being handled. Even if it was properly warned, there has been no discussion of the map. Mr. Mills stated previously the RRPC had indicated the Energy Plan, Forestry and Act 171 plans would be discussed over the course of the next few months with hearings this summer. David Soulia sited Vermont statute with regard to regional planning commissions for adoption and amendment of regional plan. He noted that throughout the process the regional commission would solicit participation by holding working sessions that suits the needs of the local people and will hold two public hearings. At least 30 days prior to the hearing, a copy will be sent with proof of receipt to each municipal chair in the region. The Pittsford Planning Commission did not know this hearing was going to happen until a week prior when an agenda was received. Rick Conway stated this is an unusual situation and as a private citizen, he will express concern at the RRPC. He noted the Regional Land Use map is not congruent with the Pittsford Future Land Use map. Mr. Conway provided a copy of the RRPC agenda and noted he had obtained a copy of the public hearing notice. He stated there are different procedures between adopting, readopting or amending and advised the agenda had indicated the RRPC is amending the regional plan, but the notice indicates adopting. Mr. Conway advised that Kevin Blow and he visited the RRPC office to talk with Steve Schilds concerning the changes to Pittsford’s Future Land Use map. Ed Bove advised Mr. Conway that the RRPC would need to hear from the Chair of Pittsford Planning Commission to make the changes to the map. Steve Schilds has indicated it will be an easy thing to do, but Dave Mills will have to contact the RRPC with regard to this item. Mr. Conway asked Mr. Bove about the public outreach for the RRPC hearing, but did not receive an answer. Mr. Conway referenced statute and noted that the hearing was not warned properly. Mr. Conway noted that if a Board does not follow the statutory requirements, there could be serious issues. Mr. Conway advised the legislature is still working on using electronic notifications for hearing notices. Mr. Conway asked the town clerk to call area towns concerning this item and noted there were a couple of other towns that did not receive this notification. Mr. Mills and Mr. Conway will attend the next Select Board meeting on June 6th to discuss this matter. The RRPC public hearing was recessed to June 19th.
- Discuss Notification Letters
Rick Conway advised that Mr. Kupferer, the Town’s attorney, had indicated the Planning Commission should follow the statute and put the notice in public hearing format. Mr. Kupferer suggested sending it to him to review prior to mailing the residents. The Planning Commission is going beyond the statute and it could create issues whereas if following the statute, it would meet the requirements. Mr. Conway noted essentially the change is to make the zoning map match the future land use map removing the rural commercial and extending the commercial districts back to where they were. Mark Winslow agreed with Mr. Kupferer as the Planning Commission would run the risk of contention, whereas if following the statute and there is an appeal, the Planning Commission has done what they should have done. Dave Mills advised there had been zoning changes on his property without consent and he is in favor of the letter. David Soulia understood where Mr. Kupferer was coming from, but suggested reaching out to him to discuss how to notify these people. It was noted that the changes are expanding, rather than limiting items. Mr. Soulia questioned if there is a middle ground. Mr. Winslow suggested the letter be forward to the attorney and determine if it is something that should be sent to all residents. Ted Gillen stated statute needs to be followed, but encouraged the Planning Commission to go beyond what is needed to keep people notified. Mr. Conway stated the public hearings are open to everyone, not just the abutting property owners. Mr. Conway is concerned that when revamping the zoning regulations in 2016, the Planning Commission advised the Town Plan would be done next and then work would be completed to amend the zoning and at that time, it was noted that people would be notified. Dave Mills suggested the letter be sent to the attorney for clarification of how to advise people. Mr. Soulia suggested placing something in the town wide newsletter. Mr. Gillen suggested this would be a good idea as it is important to have more community involvement and get the community engaged positively. Tharon Malay suggested if the decision was made to not send a letter, perhaps the warnings could be expanded to more posting locations and placed in the local paper. Chuck Charbonneau was concerned the Planning Commission is setting a precedent, as it would have to be done on everything going forward. He stated this is an improvement on land values and if the Planning Commission steps out beyond what is normally done, it would need to be done going forward. Kevin Blow stated the people that had their property changed from commercial to rural commercial are aware this change is going to happen because they came to the hearings for the Town Plan.
A motion was made by Mark Winslow and seconded by David Soulia to forward the letter to Attorney Kupferer for review and to obtain comments before going forward with mailing the letter contingent upon receiving a final version of the letter.
Mr. Winslow and Mr. Soulia rescinded this motion.
Rick Conway stated there is no immediate action needed, as the map was derailed. The recording secretary will draft the letter and forward to the Planning Commission members and Zoning Administrator for action at the next meeting.
- Discuss Changes to Table of Uses
Dave Mills noted there are a few changes to be made to the Table of Uses. Mr. Mills noted generally if something is conditional in rural commercial, it is permitted in commercial. Tharon Malay questioned earth resource extraction as it is in rural commercial, but not in commercial. Mr. Mills provided an example, noting that earth resources such as quarrying is a conditional use in rural commercial, but not in commercial. Rick Conway stated the ZBA has run into ambiguity with this document. Mr. Mills stated clinic is conditional in rural commercial, but permitted in commercial. Going back to the earth resources extraction, it should be made conditional or permitted in commercial and it was suggested to make it conditional use in the commercial zone. Municipal offices – this is permitted in rural commercial, but nothing is in commercial and it should be permitted. Mr. Malay stated nursing homes is another change that should have commercial. It was noted that all of the strikeouts would all go away because rural commercial is going away. Cemeteries and seasonal use residential that were rural commercial will also be going away. Mr. Mills asked if community members had provided the Zoning Administrator any additions and it was not known at this point. The Zoning Administrator will be advised to make the changes noted.
Ted Gillen stated with regard to the survey that had been done, there appears to be some contradictions to the map with regard to expansion of the Industrial and Commercial on Route 7. Chuck Charbonneau stated the individual landowners had requested the changes, which is why the Planning Commission is moving forward. There had been zoning changes made that the landowners were not aware of and the uses are being changed back to what they were. As far as the Industrial zone, the statute indicates where there is quarrying it should be Industrial. There had been a review of the maps to determine where the quarries are, as they should not have been changed to rural. There had been zoning changes made that were undocumented and these changes are being brought back to what they originally were. Rick Conway advised that a case came before a judge regarding Pittsford zoning in 2010 and the last properly adopted zoning was traced back to 1989. There had been a precedent set with the court case because of the lack of maps at the RRPC. This Board has been challenged with changes that the public was not aware of and the Zoning Administrator was relying on maps that were not available. Mr. Winslow advised this Planning Commission is trying to get the zoning back to the way it should be.
- Schedule Date/Agenda for Next Meeting
June 28, 2018 @ 7PM Planning Commission Meeting
A motion was made by Mark Winslow and seconded by David Soulia to adjourn the meeting at 8:55PM. The motion passed unanimously.
The Pittsford Planning Commission