Meeting Minutes : Planning Commission


Pittsford Planning Commission Meeting    

September 5, 2013


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


Board Members Absent:


Also in Attendance:Ken Niemczyk – Zoning Administrator


1.  Call to order


The meeting was called to order at 7:00PM 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


 There was no discussion held.


6.  Other Business


a)   Possible Amendments to the Pittsford Zoning Map


Don Nickless, Trish Lewis and Ken Niemczyk have been working on the changes to the Zoning Regulations. To date they have worked on the Use Charts with several changes proposed in the village from conditional to permitted, consistent with previous discussions held. There have also been some changes recommended by the former Regional Planning Manager. The basic difference between conditional use and permitted use is that conditional has to be reviewed by the Zoning Board of Appeals, whereas permitting is subject to the Zoning Administrator’s approval of the application.  All retail applications will still need to come before the Planning Commission for site plan review. The Zoning Administrator has authority over residential. This process will require several more meetings. It was noted that the former Regional Planning Commission manager had suggested the Planning Commission consider review of the zoning districts north and south of town, as the current districts promote sprawl and are not consistent with other state planning bodies.  One of the principals guides in proposing to make the changes is the Vermont Municipal Regional Planning and Development Act. Mr. Nickless cited the introductory section under purposes and goals. It was noted that economic growth should be encouraged in a concentrated village center to avoid sprawl. The intent of the changes to the zoning districts is to make them more consistent with the Town Plan and determine the general concept of how development should take place in a modern community.  There had been prior discussions of pulling back the commercial districts north and south of town and to eliminate the rural commercial designation along Route 3.  There is also a question of a section north of town to the west that has an industrial designation and it is uncertain why this area was designated industrial and there will be discussion of changing this area back to rural.


  Commercial District Discussion


The commercial district stops at Tom Turner’s property and a large part of this area is the Rasmussen farm.  Ken Niemczyk advised the accepted and recommended method for zoning district boundaries is along property lines. It was noted there are two boundaries that do not trace the property lines and Mr. Niemczyk advised that in the past, there would be a swath along a major roadway zoned for highway development, which over time became strip development. If the zones are adjusted, it was suggested the zones may want to be widened to incorporate the property boundaries. The current zoning map was drawn up over 10 years ago and there has been no commercial development north of town other than the driving range. A suggestion was made to bring the commercial zone back to the corner of the Truck Route, which would leave some room for commercial growth. Chris Beitzel asked why the village designation could not be expanded out and Mr. Niemczyk stated the village allows for residential and commercial development with different lot sizes, whereas the focus of a commercial district is for commercial development. If more of a mixed use type of area is desired, a change to a village designation would be recommended. Mr. Nickless stated it is the intent to have a compact village with the commercial areas within the village. There would be an incremental difference in taxes with a village designation.  Mr. Niemczyk would foresee changing the zoning of some buildings within the village to a mix of residential/commercial. It was noted there would need to be improvements to the wastewater treatment plant, as a larger commercial business could not currently be approved for wastewater. Ken Niemczyk requested the Planning Commission note the proposed changes on the map provided and he will bring it to the Regional Planning Commission to incorporate the changes.  


Ken Niemczyk advised that with a change to a village designation, the residents would get an increase in the value of their property, as a village designation would provide greater uses. A rural designation would be for agriculture and single family homes. The village designation would provide for different types of development and would increase the value of the properties within the village. The lot sizes could be smaller and provide for more subdivision than a rural designation.  It was suggested to eliminate the commercial areas altogether and push out the village designation. Ken Niemczyk stated by bumping out the village boundaries, it would provide more land to be used for commercial activity. Mr. Niemczyk also noted that another option would be to consider other nodes in the community to designate as village districts, such as the area in Florence near the post office. It was suggested to eliminate the rural commercial designation. It was the consensus of the Planning Commission to eliminate this designation.  


Discussion was held concerning the shortening of the commercial district back to Mitchell’s Printing on the southern side of town, with several businesses south of this property to be grandfathered in. Chris Beitzel stated an increase in the village designation would provide for denser growth. It was the consensus of the Planning Commission to eliminate the commercial zone, with the town to be zoned for industrial, rural and village designations, with all current businesses grandfathered. The village designation would be brought out to Route 7 north to Pine Woods Road, west to Hendee Lane, east to the river and south to Glorissa Drive. All businesses outside the village designation will be grandfathered in. There would be a revised village commercial designation and elimination of the commercial designation altogether. Mr. Nickless stated the village designation would provide more flexibility.  


  Industrial Zone in the Wetlands


There was question as to why this area had been designated as an industrial zone as the area reaches into rural and a conservation 1 district. Mr. Beitzel stated in determining the habitat blocks, this area is critical and connected to the wildlife corridor. It was the consensus of the Planning Commission to eliminate the industrial designation in this area and return it to a rural designation. The area is an access route to the industrial zone and is a sloping area that is swampy. It was noted that an industrial zone differentiates from the commercial zone in that it has uses associated with manufacturing or mining and heavier uses producing more impact such as noise, dust, etc. The uses in commercial zones are conditional and uses in the industrial zone are permitted, with commercial primarily retail or light industry.


Ken Niemczyk advised that procedurally, there will be a public hearing that is broadly advertised to provide the public ample opportunity to comment on the proposed changes.  Mr. Niemczyk stated there would be at least three public hearings, as the Select Board would be required to have two public hearings. Once the map is revised, all abutting towns and the state office will be notified 30 days in advance of the public hearing. It was suggested that the Planning Commission chair advise the Select Board in writing that the Planning Commission is working on an update of the zoning map in an effort to accommodate the Regional Planning Commission’s recommendations.  Mr. Nickless will request the Regional Planning Commission provide a list of other supportive references when presenting the changes to the Select Board and the general public. Mr. Niemczyk advised that a meeting cannot be posted more than 120 days out. Trish Lewis suggested setting a date for the Planning Commission’s hearing, which will also include the new zoning regulations. A date was set for November 7th for the Planning Commission’s hearing.


A motion was made Trish Lewis and seconded by Kathryn Brown to set the public hearing to amend the zoning map for the Town of Pittsford for November 7th, 2013 starting at 7PM.  The motion passed unanimously.  


Ken Niemczyk questioned when the Planning Commission began its review of subdivisions.  He has an application that the fee was paid on 9/9/08 for a subdivision and it appears to be a legitimate subdivision approval by Amy, however, it was not recorded on the map. The property owner had a plat drawn up in 2009 and is now bringing it in for a subdivision.  


7. Next Regular Meeting


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


8. Adjournment


A motion was made by Mike Gecha and seconded by Kathryn Brown to adjourn the Pittsford Planning Commission meeting at 8:53PM. The motion passed unanimously. 


Respectfully submitted,


Charlene Bryant
Recording Secret


Approved by,



 The Pittsford Planning Commission