Meeting Minutes : Planning Commission


Pittsford Planning Commission Meeting    

August 22, 2013


Board Members Present: Kathryn Brown, Chris Beitzel, Don Nickless, Mike Gecha, Trish Lewis


Board Members Absent:


Also in Attendance:Ken Niemczyk – Zoning Administrator, Larry Booker


1.  Call to order


The meeting was called to order at 7:01PM by Don Nickless, Chair.      


2.  Administrative Matters


There was no discussion held.


3.  Public Hearings


a) Old Business


There was no discussion held.


b) New Business


There was no discussion held.


4. Deliberation


There was no discussion held.  


5.  Public Comments


Larry Booker questioned the status of the proposed wind turbine project. Ken Niemczyk advised there have been no applications filed with the town. He suggested Mr. Booker could also contact the Public Service Board in Montpelier, as the project would require a certificate for public goods from the PSB. Mr. Booker stated he is part of the Grandpa’s Knob group who is not in favor of the wind turbines.


Mr. Booker advised he has long and deep roots in Vermont and has a great appreciation for its scenic and peaceful beauty. He expressed concern regarding the RV business located on Route 7, noting it is blight on the countryside. He is not opposed to business and capitalism, but with governance.  Tourists come to see the rustic beauty of Vermont and not RV fields. In his opinion, this is contrary to what Vermont is about. He believes something has to be done about this RV field.  He is pro-business, but capitalism has to have appropriate governance.  He is also not in favor of a Dollar General store, which he understands is being considered on the corner of Kendall Hill and Route 7. The store will not bring many jobs to Pittsford and will not offer high paying positions. This would be a commercial blight on the meadowland in his opinion.  This is farm and grazing land that cows and horses use and he would hate to see this lost. In conclusion, Mr. Booker strongly urged the Planning Commission to amend the town plan to say commercialism and business enterprises should be maintained where businesses are already established and that they be contained and not spread across the meadowlands. A recommendation was made to request the RV owner move the RV’s off the meadows and closer to the building. Mr. Booker also noted a Dollar General store does not belong in farmland. He does not support either of the businesses. Mr. Booker thanked the Planning Commission for the opportunity to speak.


Don Nickless noted the Planning Commission will take Mr. Booker’s comments under consideration. Ken Niemczyk advised that representatives from Dollar General had introduced the idea of a store being built in Pittsford to the Select Board and have had a couple of conversations with Mr. Niemczyk, however, to date there has been no application filed with the town and it is not known whether they are moving ahead.  If an application comes to the town, it will require a site plan review and a conditional use permit may be required. All meetings would be posted and the public would be invited to attend. Mr. Booker stated there are two stores available in the village and questioned why they could not use one of those.  Mr. Nickless stated that the Planning Commission is a quasi-judicial board and all applications must conform to the regulations and the board cannot make subjective decisions. The Committee would be required to reach a conclusion based on the zoning regulations. Ken Niemczyk agreed with the potential for strip development, as this is what the zoning ordinance shows and recommended amending the zoning map to change the areas coming out of the village along Routes 7 and 3.  If the town wants to maintain the village character, the zoning regulations would need to be changed in those areas. Mr.  Niemczyk stated the zoning can be changed with recommendation by the Planning Commission to the Select Board. The Select Board would have the final approval. The Planning Commission would study the issue and make a recommendation to the Select Board that the zoning map be changed. If the Select Board agrees with the changes, the necessary public hearings would be held and the map would then be voted upon. Mr. Booker asked if there is a Zoning Commission and it was noted this committee is the Zoning/Planning Commission.  There is also a Zoning Board of Adjustment, along with the Zoning Administrator, who administers the zoning regulations. The Planning Commission is authorized to craft a master plan and the zoning regulations. The Select Board has the ultimate authority to approve the changes. The Zoning Board of Adjustment can approve variances and they have the authority to review uses that require a conditional approval. They also hear appeals of decisions made by the Zoning Administrator.


6.  Other Business


a)   Complete discussion of proposed amendments to the Pittsford Zoning Ordinance


Don Nickless and Ken Niemczyk will meet next week to begin the redraft of the Pittsford Zoning Ordinance. An overview of outstanding items was discussed.


With regard to Item #38 concerning residential wind towers, Mike Gecha advised other towns in the area do not have much information relative to this subject. Mr. Gecha contacted the Public Service Board for information. It was noted this will be a new section in the Pittsford Zoning Ordinance. With the newer residential wind turbines, people are going to be considering them. It is not thought that they should be allowed within the village as they will be too high and too close to other homes, and should not be a prominent focal point for neighbors.  Consideration will need to be given to areas outside the village where there is a sprawl of residential properties.  Mr. Gecha advised the Public Service Board has a comprehensive residential wind siting handbook that provides steps on how to rate where turbines could be located. It discusses height and distances and goes through a series of categories and scores to determine whether an area is favorable or unfavorable. Don Nickless stated it is uncertain whether this document would be a determinate, but it could be used as a reference in the ordinance. Ken Niemczyk stated relative to the village, the most important consideration is the fall zone. It was suggested that all Planning Commission members review the handbook. Mr. Gecha will forward a copy of the handbook to the Planning Commission members.  This item was deferred to the next meeting for further discussion. It was suggested that wording would include the phrase, “non-commercial”.


Mr. Getcha requested assistance on Item #36, Re: Power Generation Facilities Conforming to Policies and Objectives of the Town Plan. He noted this also relates to Item #37, review of Section 1302B(3).  Don Nickless will review his file as this relates to prior comments from Mark Blucher of the RRPC (Rutland Regional Planning Commission). Mr. Nickless will call the RRPC to obtain additional information for guidance on this item.


Ken Niemczyk advised there could be restrictions to size within the zoning map for commercial properties. It was noted that there has been discussion the commercial zones to the north, south and west of the village are too large, and promote commercial sprawl. Mr. Niemczyk advised that abandonment of use is missing in the ordinance and without this section, individuals applying for a permit to open up another business in a building that has been abandoned can have the same use. It was noted the Commission has had discussion regarding conditional and permitted use and there has been consideration to take eliminating the commercial district in the rural zone. Trish Lewis suggested changing a number of items now characterized as “conditional” to “permitted” in the village to encourage new jobs and eliminate some items in industrial that do not make sense, such as daycares. Ms. Lewis provided copies of the proposed changes to the Commission members for review and discussion at a subsequent meeting.  It was noted there had been discussion of removing rural commercial from a section along Route 3. Ms. Lewis advised with regards to parking lots, she has located a 68-page comprehensive document that provides a breakdown of parameters for parking lots. Mr. Nickless noted the  regulations had stated parking spaces have to conform to a federal regulation and this was removed. Ken Niemczyk stated depending on the size of the development, Act 250 may need to be applied.  There is current language relating to parking in the ordinance that notes 4.5 spaces per 1000 square feet of office/retail area. Ms. Lewis will distribute the proposed verbiage to the Commission members relating to parking spaces. Mr. Niemczyk advised it is best to have specifics in the ordinance, as the courts prefer specifics as opposed to generalities.


Ken Niemczyk advised that construction for commercial purposes in towns without subdivision regulations would be reviewed under Act 250.  Since the Pittsford Planning Commission reviews subdivisions, there is more commercial development that falls under the Commissions’ regulations.  Mr. Niemczyk stated the Planning Commission needs to review the scope and regulations that are in place to avoid development that is not wanted. It is felt that pulling in the commercial zone can be proposed and can be a stand-alone initiative submitted to the Select Board. It was suggested to discuss revising the zoning map at the next meeting with the possibility of pulling in the commercial zoning lines. A public hearing will be required and adjoining towns and the state would need to be notified. It was noted that certain items could be handled through setbacks. Once an agreement on the boundaries is met, it would require a warning, a hearing and submission to the Select Board for approval. Each of the Commission members were asked to review the map for discussion at a subsequent meeting.    


Chris Beitzel obtained information from the VLCT for text to use for the quarrying section. It addresses noise, vibration, impacts on highway infrastructures and aesthetics. Mr. Beitzel will provide copies to all Commission members for review and discussion.


b) Amend Rules of Procedure and Conflict of Interest Policy


A review of the proposed Rules of Procedures and Conflict of Interest policy for the Pittsford Planning Commission was completed.


A motion was made by Kathryn Brown and seconded by Mike Getcha to approve the Rules of Procedure and Conflict of Interest policy for the Pittsford Planning Commission, as amended.


It was questioned why the meeting was changed from the 3rd to the 4th Thursday of the month. It was noted that the meeting has been held on the 4th Thursday for an extended period of time and the policy is being revised to reflect this change. It was the consensus of the Planning Commission to approve the policy as amended.


The motion passed unanimously.


c) Other Business


It was noted that the change of use permit for JLB Brandon Enterprises, Inc. to extend the sales lot included a condition to plant trees. Currently, the RV’s have been moved into the field but to date there have been no trees planted, nor has a revised drawing been submitted to the Zoning Administrator.


The criteria for approval of the application were as follows:


  1. Minimum of 50 feet from the southerly property line for all vehicles to include campers or recreational vehicles.
  2. The applicant shall install appropriate vegetation along southerly property line to absorb water and provide screening. 
  3. The applicant will return to the planning commission with a revised drawing that outlines appropriate landscaping along southerly property line and it is Mr. Bourne’s responsibility to find the landscaping to meet the two conditions.
  4.  Landscaping and tree screening to be installed within 4 months.


It was proposed to send a letter to the owner regarding compliance to the criteria.  If compliance is not met, the application would be rescinded. It was the consensus of the Planning Commission to direct the Zoning Administrator to send a letter to the property owner regarding the required conditions of the application.




7. Next Regular Meeting


Thursday, September 26, 2013 @ 7:00PM at the Pittsford Town Offices.    


8. Adjournment


A motion was made by Kathryn Brown and seconded by Trish Lewis to adjourn the Pittsford Planning Commission meeting at 8:52PM. The motion passed unanimously. 


Respectfully submitted,


Charlene Bryant
Recording Secret


Approved by,




 The Pittsford Planning Commission