Meeting Minutes : Planning Commission


Pittsford Planning Commission Meeting    

December 5, 2013


Board Members Present: Kathryn Brown, Don Nickless, Trish Lewis


Board Members Absent:  Mike Gecha, Chris Beitzel


Also in Attendance:Ken Niemczyk – Zoning Administrator, David Buzzell, Helen Buzzell, Doug Cummings, Mark Winslow, Joseph Gagnon


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


1.                Application for Subdivision Review submitted by Doug and Gerry Cummings, property owners, for property located at 5559 West Creed Road, Parcel ID #0713, in the Town of Pittsford, Vermont. The proposal is to subdivide 2.5 acres into 2 lots of 19.5 acres and 2.02 acres.


The hearing was opened at 7:01PM.


Trish Lewis noted for transparency purposes that she purchases her firewood from Doug Cummings. It was not thought that this is a conflict of interest. Mr. Cummings stated they want to subdivide to two lots, with one that is 2.02 acres where the current house is located and a 19.5 acre lot where they plan to build in the future. The lot has been surveyed and the septic has been designed, engineered and approved by the State of Vermont. A well is dug and permitted. Don Nickless questioned the line from the proposed building to the boundary.  This is a shared waterline between Mr. Cummings and his son’s property, and it is proposed to be used for the new house. Trish Lewis stated the boundary lines indicate there are other lands. Mr. Cummings stated there is a 45 acre parcel that they had purchased that was contiguous. The Fire Hill Road is a boundary that keeps the parcels separate. The driveway is already in place and is the old Fire Hill Road. The road is already in place for the new house.  Mr. Cummings stated the current house is near the road and the proposed house has a significantly higher elevation.  Ken Niemczyk  stated because there is a water line that crosses into the other property, if at any time, the property is sold, an easement will need to be put in place. Ken Niemczyk stated the property owner has already received state permits for wastewater and water. 


The hearing closed at 7:08PM.


A motion was made by Trish Lewis and seconded by Kathryn Brown to approve the subdivision application for Douglas and Jerry Cummings. The motion passed unanimously.


Ken Niemczyk stated the surveyor should provide a Mylar for recording with the town clerk.


2.                Application for Subdivision Review submitted by David Buzzell, James Buzzell, and Nancy Dodge to subdivide 29 acres into 3 lots: Lot 1 being 6.8 acres, Lot 2 being 15.4 acres and Lot 3 being 4.0 acres. The property is located off Kendall Hill Road on the south side, Parcel ID#0156, in Pittsford, Vermont.


The hearing opened at 7:10PM.


This application has been submitted by David and James Buzzell and Nancy Dodge to subdivide a 29 acre lot into three parcels of 6.8 acres, 15.4 acres and 4.0 acres. Helen Buzzell stated the three siblings own the farm and they want to separate out their shares.  Ken Niemczyk stated Parcel A does not have ending boundary lines. Helen Buzzell stated the 15 acres and the 4 acres have been surveyed, but the contiguous Parcel A has not been surveyed, but the Kendall Hill Road and the creek are the boundaries. Ms. Buzzell stated Parcel A remains part of the original farmland and they are separating out two parcels; Parcel B for 15 acres and Parcel C for 4.0 acres .Ken Niemczyk stated that there are 29 acres on the south side of Kendall Hill Road and technically there will be one big piece of land that remains with the original farm from which is separated Parcel B that is 15.4 acres. This was the conclusion of a discussion as to whether it was a two or three lot subdivision. The approval is actually for a two lot subdivision where by Parcel B is divided from the original land as a 15.4 acre parcel. Don Nickless asked if there is an existing curb cut approved. The driveway has existed for years and the gravel drive also exists. There are two houses on the south side and they are both located on Parcel A. Don Nickless questioned the dimension for the southern end of the access strip.  At the road it is 106 feet, but it narrows and the strip does not have parallel lines. Ken Niemczyk stated with frontage, the regulation calls for 100 feet of frontage along the roadway for a single family home and beyond that it is not addressed in the regulation. The definition is the length of a lot’s street line and they do meet that requirement. Trish Lewis stated the town is trying to get away from flag lots. Kathryn Brown did not think this applies since both Parcels A and C are owned by the same person. It was questioned why the four acres were not included and it was noted that it was due to family politics.  It was noted that if someone were to build on Parcel C, there would need to be another request for a subdivision. Don Nickless stated flag lots can become an issue with one lot behind another and have caused a number of disputes in the past.  There is no regulatory requirement that denies them, but there is concern that they have been a problem in the past and the Planning Commission wishes to bring this to the property owners’ attention.  Ken Niemczyk recommended approval of the application with the condition that state approval is obtained for water and wastewater, as there is a potential for selling and building on the parcel. Don Nickless stated subdivisions are usually contingent upon approval of wastewater and water applications from the state. Mr. Nickless advised there will be a deliberative session at the end of the meeting and this application will be discussed and the applicants will receive a response from the zoning administrator.


A motion was made by Don Nickless and seconded by Kathryn Brown to go into deliberative session at the end of the meeting to discuss this subdivision application. The motion passed unanimously.


The hearing closed at 7:30PM.

5.  Public Comments


There was no discussion held.  


6.  Other Business


a)   Informational Session to present proposal for changes to the Zoning Map for the Town of Pittsford, to receive public comment, and to answer any questions


Don Nickless stated the zoning map proposal is in the draft stage and is subject to change from the public, Planning Commission and the Select Board. The proposal is to redefine some of the existing zones on the zoning map, which is part of the Town Plan and Zoning Regulations. The proposal is to draw in some of the existing boundaries for commercial districts north and south of town along Route 7 and southwest along Route 3 and to expand the village boundaries. There are multiple reasons for the proposed changes. The state encourages this change in accordance with the Planning and Development Act, Title 24 VSA. Mr. Nickless read an excerpt from the General Purposes section that recommends concentrating growth and development in a town and discouraging urban sprawl. There are a number of organizations that have developed extensive guidelines for “smart growth” that encourages concentration of commercial and industrial development in given areas and not sprawled along highways. There had been a number of meetings in developing the Town Plan and there has been feedback from citizens indicating they would like to preserve the rural heritage, open space, and lack of pollution. There was also strong feedback from the citizens for managing growth to eliminate sprawl. The Planning Commission’s motivation for proposing the changes to the zoning map is due to the public comments and recommendations from the state. Mark Winslow requested clarification on the commercial zoned areas and a review of the proposed zoning map was held. Mr. Winslow expressed concern and asked who made the decision on where the changes would be made. Trish Lewis stated the existing commercial properties would be grandfathered in those areas and some of the sections exist within the wildlife corridor. Mr. Winslow stated much of the property to the south being proposed for change from commercial is his property and he does not agree with the Planning Commission’s suggestion to eliminate the commercial zoning. Joseph Gagnon stated the fact that Rutland Town is commercial should carry weight and commercial zoning should not be eliminated once one crosses the town line.  He understands protecting the area, but it is difficult to do as Route 7 is the state’s main highway and to limit commercial on Route 7 is contrary to promoting business and growth. He does not agree with wanting to take away the possibility of commercial zoning along Route 7.  Mr. Gagnon stated there are limited businesses that could be placed in the village. Mr. Winslow stated he does not have plans to do anything different with the farm, but he does not want to lose the commercial designation. He also does not want to limit the opportunity for anyone to bring business into town.  He noted the town has enough trouble providing jobs and maintaining a tax base and he feels this is very shortsighted. Mr. Gagnon stated Pittsford has always been a bedroom town to Rutland and the area near the truck route is another good place for commercial. It was noted that in leaving these areas open to commercial, there is the possibility of leaving the town open to garish and highly-lighted commercial business. Mr. Winslow stated it is not right to take away someone’s ability to do something with their land and this infringes on the freedom of someone’s use of their property.  Mr. Gagnon stated property rights are important and it is wrong to infringe on those rights if someone owns property and pays their taxes. Don Nickless stated everyone is faced with limits and property owners also should not infringe on their neighbor’s rights. Mr. Gagnon stated there are processes that will stop anything that is not allowable. Trish Lewis stated Act 250 has been able to completely deny very few applications.  They do require developers to go through many steps and may require modification to proposed plans, but they have never stopped businesses like a Jiffy Mart or a Dollar General from developing. Mr. Nickless thanked the participants for their comments. Mr. Winslow asked if the Planning Commission will be moving forward with the changes. It was noted there will be another Planning Commission hearing and the Select Board will also be holding two hearings on this subject. Mr. Winslow stated the Planning Commission’s intentions are good, but completely removing the commercial zoning is the wrong step to make and noted it would have a major impact on his property.


A motion was made by Kathryn Brown and seconded by Trish Lewis to enter into deliberative session at 7:57PM.  The motion passed unanimously.


4. Deliberation


The Planning Commission came out of deliberative session at 8:17PM.


A motion was made by Don Nickless and seconded by Kathryn Brown to approve the  application submitted by David Buzzell, James Buzzell, and Nancy Dodge to subdivide the 29 acre parcel into two lots with Parcel B being 15.4 acres and Parcels A and C remaining as part of the original farm. The approval is conditional on the acquisition of state water and sewer permits.  The motion passed unanimously.       


A motion was made by Trish Lewis and seconded by Kathryn Brown to close the deliberative session at 8:35PM. The motion passed unanimously.


Don Nickless reported he has a membership in the American Planning Association.  Mr. Nickless questioned whether any other Planning Commission members wished to be included in the membership that is up for renewal. Trish Lewis and Kathryn Brown requested to be added to the APA membership.  


Trish Lewis reported she is now the treasurer for the Rutland Regional Planning Commission.


Ken Niemczyk, Trish Lewis and Don Nickless have been working on the zoning regulations. This group will meet to complete a draft that will be distributed to the remainder of the Planning Commission for review.  


7. Next Regular Meeting                   


Thursday, December 19, 2013 @ 7:00PM at the Pittsford Town Office


8. Adjournment


A motion was made by Don Nickless and seconded by Kathryn Brown to adjourn the Pittsford Planning Commission meeting at 8:50PM. The motion passed unanimously. 


Respectfully submitted,


Charlene Bryant
Recording Secret


Approved by,



 The Pittsford Planning Commission