Meeting Minutes : Planning Commission

Pittsford Planning Commission Meeting
May 28, 2015

Board Members Present: Kathryn Brown, Trish Lewis, David Soulia, Chuck Charbonneau, Cristina Kumka, Rula Moradi, Kevin Blow, Dave Mills

Board Members Absent: 

Also in Attendance: Jeff Biasuzzi – Zoning Administrator, Laurence Booker, Drew Marrazzo, Jeff Marrazzo, David Trombley, Hank Pelkey, Joseph Gagnon

1.  Call to order

The meeting was called to order at 7:01PM by Trish Lewis – Chair.

2. Approval of Agenda

A motion was made by Rudi Moradi and seconded by Dave Mills to accept the agenda, as amended. The motion passed unanimously.

Move Public Forum to Item #6

Amend Deliberative Session to read Executive or Deliberative session as required.

3. Approve Minutes

a.     April 23, 2015 Planning Commission Meeting

A motion was made by David Soulia and seconded by Rula Moradi to accept and approve the April 23, 2015 Planning Commission minutes, as presented. The motion passed.

4. Introduction of New Planning Commission Members

Trish Lewis introduced two new members to the Planning Commission. The Select Board had voted at the May 6th meeting to expand the Planning Commission from five to seven members. Kevin Blow and Dave Mills are the new members and Rula Moradi will remain as the Alternate. If there is not a quorum, Mr. Moradi will have the authority to vote but is able to provide comments.

Dave Mills resides in Florence and has a farming business. His family has been in Pittsford since the mid-1700’s. Kevin Blow lives on Furnace Brook Road and is 4th generation of his family that has lived in Pittsford.

5. Review of Application (#15 – 18) new &/or replacement (illuminate) business signs for Townline equipment sales, 1426 US Route 7N.

Matt and Drew Marrazzo, the new Kubota dealers, have worked with the Giddings on taking over their business in July or August. They will be putting up new signage and painting the building and submitted an application regarding new and/or replacement of business signage. The Zoning Administrator advised the applicants had submitted a sign permit application and the signs are compliant with Sections 900 and 901( e) of the Zoning Regulations. There is a rule to review the application, but a public hearing is not required. The sketch plan is simple and it is down lighting. Per the dimensions submitted, the signs are dimensionally compliant with the Zoning Regulations. Kathryn Brown questioned if the signs will remain lit all night. Trish Lewis stated there are not rules regarding that issue, but noted that some businesses have put lights on a timer. It was noted there was discussion of adding security lighting at a future time.  The illumination is a public safety advantage as well. They are also recycling one of the signs that will be grandfathered in and this will provide two signs and the Kubota sign will be grandfathered in.

A motion was made by Cristina Kumka and seconded by David Soulia to approve the application.

Trish Lewis stated it is the intent to treat all applications the same and she would prefer to go into deliberative session for discussion to provide all board members the opportunity for input before the final decision is made. The applicant will be notified within 45 days after the decision.

Dave Mills noted the existing sign is in the bushes.  Jeff Marrazzo stated going north one can’t see the sign in the spring, but there is no issue going south. The Agency of Transportation has approved the sign location. Kevin Blow noted signs on the town highway cannot be erected within 30 feet, but this is a state highway.  Jeff Marrazzo stated he was advised that the state requirement is 50 feet from the center line, however, their signs will be more farther than that and the state will inspect to assure that the signs  are placed properly.

Cristina Kumka retracted the pending motion until after the deliberative session, with a decision to be made this evening.

6. Public Forum

Hank Pelkey advised he has talked to John Haverstock and he is working on a date for the VLCT to host training for Planning Commission members at the town office.

Laurence Booker, resident of Pines Wood Road, has been a Vermont resident for 40 year. Mr. Booker has concerns about unbridled development. He does not want to see Pittsford developed like New Jersey. He suggested the Planning Commission look closely at each and every application that is submitted for all businesses. He is not anti-business but he does not want to see unbridled development and lose the countryside, like the reduction he has seen in farms. The Planning Commission should be sure that applications do not have adverse effects on the countryside. Kevin Blow asked if it is big businesses that he is concerned about. Mr. Booker thinks that all businesses need to be reviewed to determine what is the effect is on wildlife, natural resources, water, etc.  David Soulia noted that the countryside is owned by people that have to earn a living and in passing applications, Mr. Soulia requested suggestions of what Mr. Booker would see as the Planning Commission’s work for expanding business in the town. Mr. Booker noted concern with the impacts on the environment and the natural beauty. Cristina Kumka stated there is very clear zoning in New Jersey where the intentions of the cities and urban planners are to increase businesses, but there are areas in New Jersey that have environmental-type zoning. Ms. Kumka stated in Pittsford it is important to have zoning to restrict industrial areas from residential areas. It was noted that everyone realizes that zoning is important to dictate the direction a town wants to go. Mr. Booker noted concern of tree removal in the vicinity of his property. The Zoning Administrator stated there is state exception to zoning jurisdiction for agricultural practices and the state has jurisdiction over management practices, but the town does not.  Such issues as overcutting of the forest would be referred to the State Department of Environmental Conservation. Joseph Gagnon offered to speak with Mr. Booker with regard to forestry. Trish Lewis suggested that Mr. Gagnon could provide a presentation on forestry during the Planning Commission’s process of rewriting the Town Plan.

7. Continue Revisions to Proposed Zoning Regulation: Draft Formal Response to Select Board recommendations to amend Draft Zoning Rules (revised 1/26/15)

Trish Lewis reported the Select Board has provided a list of 13 recommendations that they would like the Planning Commission to consider changing or accepting.  Each member of the Planning Commission was tasked with researching the recommendations and upon review the Planning Commission will consider approval or modification. Ms. Lewis noted the Planning Commission will probably concur with about 95% of the recommendations, but it is the job of the Planning Commission to take the information and deliberate and discuss the suggested changes.

Chuck Charbonneau expressed concern that the Select Board had provided the recommendations and it was his understanding that the Select Board had the final authority. Mr. Charbonneau was concerned that much time has been spent on the revisions and the Planning Commission needs to move forward. Ms. Lewis noted the Planning Commission authored the Zoning Regulations and it is this Board’s responsibility to provide additional information to the Select Board.

Hank Pelkey advised the Select Board did its due diligence and held the hearings and came to the decisions on the changes. He noted if there is a reason the Select Board missed on a point, the Planning Commission could bring it back to the Select Board for reconsideration.

Chuck Charbonneau stated he is unprepared for the three items and he will bring them next month for discussion. David Soulia has also not had the opportunity to review his items. Mr. Soulia questioned whether the Planning Commission could pass the Zoning Regulations with the recommendations of the Select Board in order to move forward with regulations and at a later time go back to the Select Board for future changes. Cristina Kumka stated the Planning Commission needs to make a decision to have a document to send back to the Select Board. She noted there have been several years of work done on the changes and the current Planning Commission is tasked with getting something stable and efficient for the Select Board to approve or deny.  Trish Lewis stated in going through each point, as the topic is complete, there will be a recommendation made to forward to the Select Board.  Ms. Kumka noted there needs to be research done and there may be some things in the current plan that do not need to be in there and it is important to have discussions with the state and local experts.

Item #1 – David Soulia will provide information at the June 25th meeting

Items #2 – Chuck Charbonneau will provide information at the June 25th meeting

Item #3 – Chuck Charbonneau will provide information at the June 25th meeting

Item #4 – Trish Lewis suggested in Section 502(b) to change the requirement the applicant submit 3 sets of copies rather than 7 sets of copies, which was the recommendation from the Select Board. The Zoning Administrator agreed with a change to 3 copies, however, recommended that due to larger engineering drawing size, that additional copies may be requested by the Zoning Administrator. It was a consensus of the Planning Commission to approve the recommendation of the Select Board, with the additional recommendation of the Zoning Administrator.

Item #5 – Rula Moradi reported he reviewed the alternatives that  included a) eliminating Section 704(2) as suggested by the Select Board,  b) reverting back to the original Section 704 version or c) considering the Zoning Administrator’s change to add, “when reviewing site, preference will…” Mr. Moradi was in favor of the recommendation of the Select Board regarding the parking issue. The Zoning Administrator stated this was addressing parking but if there is a specific requirement that comes up, it would go to the Zoning Board of Authority.  It was the consensus of the Planning Commission to go with alternative a) eliminate Section 704(2) as suggested by the Select Board.

Item 6 – David Soulia will provide information at the June 25th meeting

Item 7 – Kathryn Brown read the following list of pros and cons relating to the issue of the signage:

“1.  Remove Section 901(l) dealing with temporary signage such as sandwich boards

The pros to keeping this section in the present zoning ordinances:

a)    Enables businesses and civic organizations to communicate with residents and drive-bys

b)    Limits number and time frame of this type of signage

c)     Attracts tourism

d)    Is compatible with other towns in the vicinity

The cons of keeping this section:

a)    Currently not enforced

b)    Decreases livability and detracts from the town

c)     Distracts drivers, potential traffic hazard if not properly tied down

d)    Lacks specificity as to size, etc.

2. Remove Section 901(l)

The following are the pros and cons as they relate to the issue of signage on an awning at a place of business.

The pros of keeping this is our present zoning ordinances:

a)    Does not add to temporary signage

b)    Enhances business owner’s ability to identify business

c)     Would need little to no enforcement

The cons of keeping this in our present ordinance:

a)    Ms. Brown could think of none”

The recommendation was to go with the Select Board proposal in removing Section 901(1). Cristina Kumka asked about the Zoning Administrator’s recommendations. Jeff Biasuzzi felt the Sign Ordinance was ambiguous and recommended only one temporary sign per business. Hank Pelkey stated there are several signs for the library announcing events and this would pose a problem. The Zoning Administrator stated there are many sandwich signs and there are no limitations and in the rule that is proposed there are no limitations. Trish Lewis stated if there is a business that is abusing the number of signs, this would address the issue. Mr. Biasuzzi suggested the language could be clarified and simplified. Dave Mills asked if this is strictly for business, or does it include events. Mr. Biasuzzi stated this would be a good clarification to do and he is all for simplifying the zoning, but there needs to be something that is workable with perhaps a variance language. Mr. Biasuzzi thought the first section of the sign rules works well.  Mr. Pelkey agreed that it needs to be more clearly stated.

Cristina Kumka requested clarification on Section 901(e) as it states there will be no more than two signs and it was noted that it should read permanent signs. Mr. Biasuzzi stated there is a specific definition for temporary or portable signs and suggested perhaps tying in the number of signs with the amount of road frontage. Chuck Charbonneau noted concern with restricting business.

Dave Mills asked if there could be a waiver for temporary signs and the Zoning Administrator stated the rules for a waiver would be much simpler for someone with special circumstances. Mr. Biasuzzi stated the best approach would be to pick a number of signs and provide provisions if a business needs more; then the business would need to come to the appropriate administrative panel or allow the Zoning Administrator to consider an application for additional temporary signage. The Planning Commission approves dimensional signs and the issue of more signs that are permanent in nature would require a municipal panel, but a temporary sign could be an approval by the Zoning Administrator. Chuck Charbonneau asked if the town has jurisdiction in the state right of way and it was noted the town does not have authority in the state highway. It was noted that many of the temporary signs are in the Route 7 corridor and the town does not have jurisdiction over those. Jeff Biasuzzi stated the current sign law does not have jurisdiction over the temporary signs. Joseph Gagnon asked how big a problem has this been in the past. Trish Lewis stated in the past there have not been issues, but there is potential for issues as there have been definite changes in businesses putting out many more signs. Ms. Lewis stated there appears to be a lot of discussion that needs to be done and she suggested leaving it like it was, but realize there is a trend of increases and could be further discussed during the update of the new Town Plan. Kathryn Brown suggested leaving the temporary sign verbiage as is and Cristina Kumka agreed with Ms. Brown.

A motion was made by Cristina Kumka and seconded by Kathryn Brown to remove the proposed language from 901(i) and replace with only one temporary sign allowed per business with no permit required, unless otherwise permitted by the Zoning Administrator after receipt of an application for a Temporary Use permit. Elimination of Section 901(l) was also included in the motion. The motion passed with one “no” vote– Kevin Blow.  

Dave Mills stated if there are more signs needed for special events, he suggested it should say sign or signs. Chuck Charbonneau agreed with Mr. Mills as he is concerned with people wanting to build business which will require advertising. David Soulia stated as a small business owner, he resents that the Planning Commission wants to restrict his ability to advertise on his property. He stated it is difficult to increase business and he does not agree with restrictions. He stated it is difficult for business owners to adhere to the rules and regulations, and does not agree with additional restrictions. Hank Pelkey expressed concern as there are usually several events happening at the town library at the same time and this would be very restrictive. The Zoning Administrator stated there could be a recommendation to not limit temporary signs. Ms. Kumka stated if there are no restrictions, there could be some adverse effects and the town could start to look more developed and could lead to nonconforming looks. She thought it helpful to have some restrictions and suggested it would be a good idea to open this item up to the public to determine what the public would prefer. Mr. Pelkey would support Mr. Kumka’s motion as it is less onerous than some towns and the motion would not put a restriction on the number of temporary signs. Mr. Biasuzzi stated there could be a rewrite to submit to the Select Board as the wording will be to make the permit sign request as quick and easy as possible.

Item 8 – Trish Lewis stated the Select Board’s recommendation was to delete the new wording in Section 1003(3). Her ultimate recommendation is to go with that, but it is important to understand the background. The new wording was added to clarify  developers’ building parameters when requested, to underscore the important issue of the town’s aging infrastructure and to strengthen the town’s position for any problems that may arise with more intense storms, which are projected to increase by 75%.

Ms. Lewis read the following statement: “The town’s water system is working fine and has plenty of capacity to take on new users. The town’s wastewater is nearly at capacity and this is the limiting factor for new and/or expanding users. Some of the wastewater pipes in use were installed in the 1890’s and were coated 20 years ago, but some coating is now wearing off. When a building application is reviewed by the state, we are judged by our capacity in sewer and according to Bruce “…we are about at capacity now”. During storms, there is infiltration of storm water into our already nearly maxed pipes that then must be handled and treated by our wastewater system. Replacing the old wastewater pipes could run into the millions of dollars. It seems the town is not ready to take this on yet, therefore it would be prudent to do all we can do to ease the burden on the wastewater system and this includes having residents have their land absorb onsite (or direct in a specific way) storm water so that storms do not saturate areas around our wastewater pipes and then cause seepage into the system. The proposed version was reworded after public hearing to reflect public input so as not to affect projects which are smaller in scope or where storm water run-off is not thought to be an issue (but that was debated and not fully agreed on) keeping it small and medium businesses friendly; but it still allows the wording to call to light an issue that could be very costly to the town if not handled properly and the previous make-up of the Planning Commission felt very strongly that we should be proactive about this issue and stress how easy it is to include storm water issues into plans for any new or rehab/expanding construction projects. The proposed wording seems to be innocuous and helpful to have this information placed in our town’s bylaws. The reasoning behind doing so was to stress this area and to help the town’s infrastructure. However, it is not needed by law, and it is covered by state regulations as some members of the public have said. So if the Select Board wishes to not emphasize the issue of ways to handle storm water and not offer helpful parameters to new builders and decide that the voiced opinion of a few townspeople (who may or may not know the above facts) is of better help to the future of the town than the proposed wording, then striking the new wording and leaving this section as it was can be accepted by the Planning Commission so as not to impede the rest of the updates, yet the decision to do this should clearly come from the Select Board because from a planning standpoint, it is letting down the next generation of residents who will have to deal with this infrastructure issue.  If the Select Board reviews the full issue and still wants the wording cut, Ms. Lewis is fine with the current wording”

Hank Pelkey stated with the Route 7 project, there will be more improvements put into the wastewater. Ms. Lewis noted the wording only emphasizes the issues and stresses storm water management, but is not adding more regulations. Chuck Charbonneau stated everything goes through the state and he does not think that additional wording is needed. Mr. Pelkey noted the state is on top of storm water and they are very tough. Joseph Gagnon did not think the town should get involved as the state is already on top of it.  He stated the town has spent a lot of money on wastewater and he does not think there needs to be anything further added.  Ms. Lewis reiterated new wording is not imposing any new regulations, but could be removed and reference made regarding state regulations.

A motion was made by Cristina Kumka and seconded by Kathryn Brown to remove all proposed language in section 1003(3) with exception of the sentence that is already in the current Pittsford Zoning regulations. The motion passed unanimously.

Item 9 – Christina Kumka will provide information at the June 25th meeting

Item 10 – Chuck Charbonneau will provide information at the June 25th meeting
Item 11 – Cristina Kumka will provide information at the June 25th meeting

Item 12 – Rula Moradi reported he studied the previous and new versions, spoke with a town expert (Brad Rousseau) on boilers and contacted the Vermont Pollution Compliance Chief (John Wakefield).  He stated the laws changed several years ago and there was a substantial amount of investment by the state and incentives offered by manufacturers. Mr. Moradi had questioned if owners of the old outdoor wood boilers are aware of the new incentives and state regulations. He stated the new version of the regulations is advising that people have to remove older boilers by a certain time. Mr. Moradi suggested the elimination of this section, or to keep the title of the section and refer individuals to Vermont law. Mr. Moradi noted the Planning Commission does not want to play attorney as there are a lot of issues with this subject. The Zoning Administrator advised that anything in existence prior to the passing of the regulations would be grandfathered and the new regulations would apply to a new or replacement of an existing boiler. Joseph Gagnon stated he has one of the older models and suggested allowing the state to handle this type of regulation. He would not like to see the town make the regulations stricter. David Trombley noted the Select Board reviewed the state regulations and the Planning Commission’s recommendation was stricter than state regulations. Hank Pelkey stated the Select Board would accept the state’s regulations, but did not want to be stricter. Mr. Moradi recommended either to a) eliminate this section in its entirety, b) leave the section as is and refer people to the state law or c) alter the language to state precisely what the Select Board wants and state some general facts, but do not get into specific details and refer people to state law. The Planning Commission opted to go with option b with leaving the Title Section and referring individuals to the state law.

A motion was made by Cristina Kumka and seconded by Dave Mills to leave the Title Section as is, refer people to the state law and remove all other proposed language in the Zoning Ordinance. The motion passed unanimously.

The Zoning Administrator suggested Mr. Moradi draft the language for this section.  Ms. Kumka was also requested to draft the language for the Sign Ordinance to be submitted to the Select Board.

Item 13 – Trish Lewis suggested accepting the Select Board’s recommendation to add the map to any future zoning bylaw amendment. There was consensus amongst the Planning Commission members to accept this recommendation.

8. Submission by Zoning Administrator to add Boundary Line Adjustments and Simple Parceling provisions to zoning rules

This item was tabled to the June 25th meeting.

8.  Chair Bits and Pieces

There was no discussion held.

A motion was made by Trish Lewis and seconded by Cristina Kumka to go into deliberative session at 9:23PM.

9. Deliberative Session, if required

The Planning Commission came out of deliberative session at 9:25PM.

A motion was made by Chuck Charbonneau and seconded by Dave Mills to approve Application (#15 – 18) for Townline Equipment Sales, 1426 US Route 7N. The motion passed unanimously.

10. Member Updates

This item was postponed to the June 25th meeting.

11. Next Meeting 

Special Meeting – Thursday, June 11, 2015 @ 6:30PM – RRPC to discuss required points for Pittsford Town Plan that is due for renewal in 2017

8. Adjournment

It was a unanimous consensus of the Planning Commission to adjourn at 9:27PM. The motion passed unanimously.

Respectfully submitted,
Charlene Bryant
Recording Secretary


Approved by,


The Pittsford Planning Commission