Pittsford Planning Commission Meeting
September 18, 2014
Board Members Present: Kathryn Brown, Trish Lewis, Don Nickless
Also in Attendance: Ken Niemczyk – Zoning Administrator, James Grace, Dan Adams, Rick Conway, Mike Sullivan, David Mills, Brian Provin, Emerson Frost, Bev Peterson, Allen Mills, Ron Davis, Louise Davis, David Rowe, Donald Keith, Wayne Rowe, Robert Giddings, Kevin Blow, Jim LaCoille, Brad Keith, Ed Keith Sr., Adam Parry, Ed Keith Jr., Dana Conboy, Patrick McLaughlin, Howard Stickney, Sonny Poromski, Terry Mitchell, Ann Rademacher, Thomas Grace, Philip Grimes, Raymond Yates, William Rowe, Robin Rowe, Bruce Paynter
1. Call to order
The meeting was called to order at 6:07PM by Don Nickless – Chair.
2. Administrative Matters
a. Approval of Minutes
The minutes from the previous meeting will be approved at the next regularly scheduled meeting.
3. Public Hearings
a. Old Business
There was no old business discussed.
b. New Business
There was no new business discussed.
5. Public Comment
Don Nickless advised the Planning Commission will be reviewing the comments from the last hearing to determine whether therewill be changes made, which will be done during Item 6 of the agenda. Mr. Nickless stated if there are comments on the zoning regulations or other subjects, this would be the time for additional comments. Mr. Nickless requested each speaker limit their comments to two to three minutes.
Bev Peterson likes the Town Plan and noted the Planning Commission did a good job. She likes the idea of the different development criteria for certain elevations and thinks the Wildlife Corridor is a good item.
AnnRademacherstated the Wildlife Corridor should be included in the Regulations, as it is an important item to have. She noted the Corridor does not end in Pittsford and wildlife is needed.
David Mills stated if the change to add the Wildlife Corridor goes through it will completely take his farm, if it is done the same way as Brandon, and he noted this is wrong. His family has been here since the 1700’s and there are fewer houses now than in the past. There are no migratory animals that need a range. Trish Lewis stated this Corridor is not something that is being created, but has been in this area and the intention is to make people aware of it, with no restrictions added. Ms. Lewis offered to provide more information on the Wildlife Corridor to anyone interested in receiving it. Mr. Mills stated he knew all he wants to know from his dealings with Brandon and he thinks it is a violation of people’s property rights. He stated Brandonrejected the plan and in speaking with Pittsford’s Town Manager, he was advised that Pittsford was not doing anything about it.
Dana Conboy questioned if there are people that are mapping out footprints. Mr. Nickless stated there was work done to map the Wildlife Corridor. There are a number of groups that are promoting this effort and the intent was to give it some consideration. It is not definitive, but there is a movement to try to preserve wildlife by protecting corridors.
Dan Adams stated this idea did not come from anyone that owns property in Pittsford and is from outside groups. Trish Lewis stated there were people in Pittsford that assisted with sightings of fisher cats, bobcats, coyotes, deer, moose and some other species. Mr. Adams failed to see the reason why it has to be in the zoning. Trish Lewis stated this will be discussed later in the meeting.
Jim Grace asked for a description of the process for approving the proposed amendments. Mr. Nickless stated it depends on the discussion of the input from the last hearing and further comments made this evening. The Planning Commission needs to feel comfortable with the product put forward to the Select Board. Once the regulations are submitted to the Select Board, they will hold two hearings where the public can provide further input. The Select Board can make a motion to adopt the changes or defer to another meeting for further discussion. There will be no further Planning Commission hearings, but there may be further meetings. The document will be available to the public.
Bruce Paynterquestioned the amendment to the sign regulation regarding a sign that is not being used being considered abandoned. He has an electric sign that he has not been using for commercial advertising. He stated he intended to use this sign for non-business freedom of speech issues. He questioned if he is required to have a message on it in order to not trigger the abandonment clause. He noted it is fully functional. Trish Lewis stated that the abandonment regulation would not affect Mr. Paynter’s sign as far as the functionality of the sign, state of good repair and the town’s position. Any signs are still subject to state regulations.
Wayne Rowe stated there have been special interest groups in the past that have tried to tell the landowners what to do with their properties. The property owners pay taxes and there needs to be deregulation, not more regulations. Mr. Nickless stated there needs to be some rules to live together harmoniously in society, but there is a fine balance and every layer of government has interpretation of what is needed. The Planning Commission is not trying to include bureaucratic items and have tried to soften some things. They are trying to include items from the state, federal and prior Zoning Administrators’ comments. The Planning Commission hears what everyone is saying and is trying to find a balance between over regulation and none.
Dan Adams took away from the meeting in December that people would be contacted and asked for input and he recalls signing something to obtain notification. He had a lot of things to say about the Table of Uses and he does not feel there is a lot of attention paid to this area. He questioned if there is a proposed use that is not included in a district whether there is a process to have it considered. Ken Niemczyk stated a proposed use could be suggested to be in included in the plan. Mr. Adams would like to discuss the expansion of the Table of Uses. It was noted the Planning Commission did not make the table and they have tried to make it more generic and easier to use by combining similar uses. Mr. Adams stated if someone proposes a use in a district and it is not permitted, what needs to be done to have considered. Mr. Niemczyk stated it would need to go before the Select Board, as they are the only ones that have the authority to change zoning and they would have to approve it being added to the zoning regulations. This would also require a public hearing. Mr. Nickless stated the Table of Uses could be discussed in the next round of changes. Mr. Adams asked why the map is not accompanying the regulations. Trish Lewis stated it was decided the map would not be changed at this time and the map will accompany the document when it is submitted to the Select Board.
Tom Grace questioned whether the permit he has submitted will be discussed this evening and Mr. Niemczyk advised that the permit did not need to be reviewed by the Planning Commission.
Kevin Blow asked if a banner sign has to be taken down at the end of each day, such as the sign that Keith Mazzaroni has on the side of the shipping container that he is selling. Trish Lewis asked if it is going to be up for an extended period of time. It was noted that it will be up every day for potentially a year. Mr. Blow also noted his children have a for sale sign for corn that is in disrepair and questioned whether they will be in violation. Ms. Lewis responded that such an extreme example was well beyond the intentions of any zoning regulation. Mr. Blow asked why the Agricultural Uses and Farm Structures were taken out of the regulations, as they protected the farmers. It was noted that some items were moved to different areas of the regulations and Section 1121 relating to the exemption of Agricultural Uses was moved to Section 1302(b)2.
Allen Mills stated there is misconception of what the Wildlife Corridor is; noting he has attended several meetings and it was explained this is not a regulatory group. They study wildlife and their travel between the Green Mountains and the Taconics. On his farm property, he has preserved the development rights and has gone through the Vermont Land Trust. The Wildlife Corridor is not something that people can regulate. Trish Lewis gave an example of how they are trying to figure out where black bears and bobcats are often seen and the next time the roads are updated, they want certain types of culverts installed to allow them to travel underneath the roads.
Tom Grace noted the state will likely not regulate the Wildlife Corridor, but once a label is placed on those lands, it could render the land useless. He also noted it would be impossible to do everything the state and federal government wants the towns to do.
Brian Provin stated there are five times as many bears in the area than there were several years ago and noted the people in Pittsford are concerned about wildlife. Mr. Provin questioned whether the comments made will have an impact on the Planning Commission’s decision. Don Nickless stated everyone seems to be concerned about the Wildlife Corridor and the Planning Commission will take this into consideration.
Bev Peterson would like lights to be shielded and faced downward to preserve the night skies. It was noted this item will be added to the next zoning updates, but will not make it into this version.
Rick Conway stated that 6 months ago the Planning Commission started working on the changes. In reviewing the Planning Commission meeting minutes over the past six months, he questioned if there had been meetings in February, March, May or July as he did not find minutes. He stated this rewrite is a tremendous amount of work and it would appear that work was done outside the meetings. Mr. Nickless advised that sections of the regulations were split between the Planning Commission members to work on individually. Discussion of the changes was then held during the meetings. It was noted there were some months when there were no hearings and meetings were not held. Mr. Conway does not think that items need to be included just because the state has recommended it. He sees inconsistencies and there are a tremendous amount of ambiguities and omissions. In looking at the Table of Uses, there are blank sections. Mr. Conway suggested not going to the Select Board with this document. He knows the Regional Commission had a lot of input. He noted there are towns around Pittsford that do not have zoning and there is a petition to eliminate zoning in Pittsford and he has asked people not to proceed with this petition. Mr. Nickless stated he has been on the Planning Commission for eight years and there has never been a request from the ZBA regarding interpretation of the regulations. Mr. Conway stated there has been confusion of which zoning regulations to be used and he understands there needs to be an amendment to the zoning regulations, but thinks this is a complete rewrite.
Donald Keith stated he has a lot of respect for Mr. Conway and the passion he has for listening to the heartbeat of the town. Mr. Keith has a sign business and is a young business man. He is concerned for all the businesses in town. There needs to be promotion of business in Pittsford. He is sensing a huge concern with what is being proposed. Trish Lewis stated economic development is key and she would like to invite Mr. Keith to a workshop that will be held in October about how to keep businesses strong. She asked him to leave a contact email or phone number. Mr. Keith did not leave any contact information. Mr. Keith stated he counts on resources from other people that are running businesses and he feels all the businesses are connected and if other businesses are suffering it hurts all business. He would like to preserve what has been going on in Pittsford for a long time. Other towns are making it difficult to maintain businesses.
Rachael Giddings stated at that December meeting, the Planning Commission was promoting movingbusinesses into the village and she asked what the decision was on this. Mr. Nickless stated that item was shelved and the map has no changes as a result of the comments made at the December meeting. Mr. Nickless advised the state had been promoting to concentrate development in the villages and avoid urban sprawl outside the village. Rachel Giddings stated she was also not for sprawl, but was still concerned about local business. Since the public reaction to this change, Mr. Nickless reiterated that change has been cancelled.
6. Other Businesses
a. Review public comments relative to proposed zoning changes
Item 1118, Page 38, regarding the change from 30 yards to10 yards, Mr. Nickless stated there had not been any complaints with the prior regulation and suggested that it be left at the 30 yards. Trish Lewis noted there had been an issue on Steeple Hill Road. She stated 10 cubic yards is too small based on what the excavating companies require. It was the consensus of the Planning Commission to change the regulation back to 30 yards. There was no change to the slope percentage.
Section 901(i) Temporary Signs, Page 28 – Mr. Nickless stated there was no limit in the prior regulation for this type of sign. Trish Lewis stated there had been a point made about the Haunted House and the Planning Commission does not want this affected by a Temporary Sign regulation. Ms. Lewis stated four weeks would allow the Haunted House to operate as it always has. On Page 74 of the Definitions, there is a contradictory comment under Signs that should be changed to reflect what is written in the regulation. The proposed change was two weeks and it was recommended to change it to one month. Trish Lewis suggested placing this item on the list for the next Zoning update and invite members of the business community to have a discussion regarding signs so that the Planning Commission can make some changes to anything new that is not working as intended.
Item 1104(d) Home Occupation – Ken Niemczyk needs to obtain clarification from legal counsel regarding auto repair under Home Occupation. In the existing regulation, it indicates body work.
Item 1114 regarding the requirement of a permit for demolition – Trish Lewis stated this is a benefitto property owners and was requested by the listers.
Section 504(b) – Wildlife Corridor at the top of Page 18. Trish Lewis stated there was discussion of the character of the neighborhood and existing neighborhood uses. The state defines deer yards and it was asked if the state puts any restrictions on it. Howard Stickney advised he does work with the Agency of Natural Resources and noted they have done research on this item and have noted there are a couple of ridge lines. They have indicated if buildings are put up, they animals will still pass through. People are concerned that once a corridor is denoted, it opens the door for other regulations. Bev Peterson stated because the corridor is in the 11,000 foot elevation, there can be development of 10 acres or more. Trish Lewis stated the wildlife travel corridors are in the same categoryas historic buildings. People are concerned if it is included in the regulations, there could be reason for denial. Mr. Nickless stated it is a matter of interpretation and he understands the concern. Trish Lewis will research wording to show that Pittsford has no intention of making it a regulatory item. Kathy Brown stated the Wildlife Corridor could be added it to the list for changes to the Town Plan, rather than including it in the Zoning Regulations. The Board was in agreement with this suggestion.
Howard Stickney questioned the 12% slope in Section 1118, as he interprets anything over 12% requires going to the Zoning Board. It was noted the slope regulation is not a change and has been in the regulation. The regulation stipulates if the change to the land is more than 12%.
It was the consensus of the Planning Commission to maintain the Wood Boiler Section as written. The state is regulating this item, but including it in the regulations will providePittsford the ability to react to an issue.
Banner signs – Article IX.(j) – Page 28 – ThePlanning Commission’s intentis not to regulate those signs that are done well, but there needs to be authority should there be a problem. It was noted having a For Sale sign is not a banner sign. It was decided banner signs should be scratched from the definitions. Section 901(j) on Page 28 will read: Signs that are year-round outdoor signs that signal open, welcome and other such daily business communications; such signs are to be turned off and taken down at the close of business each day. No such sign shall be displayed when the business is not open.
The Zoning Administrator to clarify the questions in the Home Occupation regulation.
Storm Water 1003(c)3 – Page 32 – The storm water plan can be as simple as one sentence or as detailed as the engineer would want to make it. If building a simple piece of infrastructure, there would not be a large stormwater plan required. It was suggested to put a qualifier that the need for an adequate stormwater plan will be required at the discretion of the Planning Commission. If there is a site plan and the Planning Commission knows how the water is running, the drainage will be known and a full Stormwater Management Plan will not be a requirement. If a full development is brought before the Planning Commission, such as a mall, there would need to be a Stormwater Management Plan. It was suggested the regulation to read: #3 – Each site plan may require a Stormwater Management Plan. Such Plan will be at the discretion of the Planning Commission. Single family homes and duplexes do not come to the Planning Commission and do not fall under this requirement. This regulation is for multi-family and commercial properties.
A draft document will be completed and brought before the Planning Commission for a vote at the next Planning Commission meeting.
7. Next Regular Meeting
October 2, 2014 @ 7:00PM
A motion was made by KathyBrownand seconded by Trish Lewis to adjourn the Pittsford Planning Commission meeting at8:00PM. The motion passed unanimously.
The Pittsford Planning Commission