Meeting Minutes : Planning Commission

Pittsford Planning Commission Meeting    

August 6, 2015

Board Members Present: Trish Lewis, David Soulia, Chuck Charbonneau, Kevin Blow, Dave Mills

Board Members Absent:  Cristina Kumka, Kathryn Brown, Rula Moradi

Also in Attendance: Jeff Biasuzzi – Zoning Administrator

1.  Call to order

The meeting was called to order at 7:13PM by Trish Lewis – Chair.

2. Approval of Agenda

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

No Executive Session was required.

3. Approve Minutes

a.     July 23, 2015 Planning Commission Meeting

A motion was made by Chuck Charbonneau and seconded by Dave Mills to accept and approve the July 23, 2015 Planning Commission minutes, as presented. The motion passed unanimously.

4. Public Forum

No public in attendance.

5. Zoning Bylaw Update – Discussion/Debriefing/Action in Response to Select Board Information

Chuck Charbonneau thanked the Zoning Administrator for the information the members received on the zoning bylaws.

Item #6 – Remove Section 803(c)(3); ZBA allows 1 extension of nonconforming use. 

David Soulia stated since this item has been a non-issue, he recommended this item be removed, as previously recommended by the Select Board. Trish Lewis stated this section had been added to avoid multiple extension requests. The Zoning Administrator suggested an option to allow other extensions up to 50% of the footprint. The Select Board would like to work with expanding a structure up to 50% over time and would like to remove the one-time only rule, as they do not have an issue with multiple extensions, as long as they do not exceed 50% of the footprint. The limiting factor is the total amount of coverage. Ms. Lewis agreed this could be taken off, but there needs to be a process to keep track of the extensions from the original measurements, so as to not exceed the 50% as they relate to non-conforming use. If there is a structure beyond the maximum coverage, the current rule indicates that the Zoning Administrator will allow up to 50%. Mr. Soulia noted the regulation starts with the wording “may”, which leaves the ZBA open to making a call on something that is not appropriate. Chuck Charbonneau stated as someone who is looking at the tax base of the town, he has a difficult time stopping growth. The Zoning Administrator stated a limitation of size helps maintain the rural setting and alleviates problems for emergency services. It was noted this regulation under discussion relates to non-conforming uses only and the Zoning Administrator will have to determine how to keep track of the number of extensions to assure the structures do not exceed 50%. Trish Lewis stated this situation does not happen frequently in Pittsford.

A motion was made by Dave Mills and seconded by David Soulia to remove Section 803(c)(3): ZBA allows 1 extension of nonconforming use. The motion passed unanimously.

Item 7: Remove Section 901(i) and 901(l), temporary signs

The Zoning Administrator stated the Sign Section has been discussed and it was agreed that a change is required. Mr. Biasuzzi provided the following recommendation for Section 901(i) and Section 901(l):

“SECTION 901(i): Temporary signs, such as vertical or horizontal banners, sandwich signs, placards, and special notices that advertise a specific product or event, are allowed without a local zoning permit: providing all the following apply:

1)    No temporary sign may be displayed for a total length of time longer than thirty seven (37) days; or it will be considered a permanent sign and require a local permit.

2)    A maximum of two (2) temporary signs per business are allowed without a permit. Additional temporary signs may be displayed only after obtaining a temporary sign permit from the Zoning Administrator.

3)    That the temporary signs are in compliance with all other provisions of Sections 901, 902 and 903 of the Town Zoning Regulations.”

“SECTION 901(l): One (1) sign per business; that ONLY identifies the business and its hours of operation, including “OPEN” or “WELCOME” may be displayed in addition to sign limitations specified in Sections 901(e) and 901(1.2); and providing this sign is significantly smaller in size to the main business signs.”

David Soulia asked if the temporary signs have been a big issue and expressed concern that the members of the Planning Commission do not have the marketing expertise to determine how many signs a business needs to draw customers in. Mr. Soulia stated most people realize over-signing a business will drive people away. Mr. Soulia recommended removing Section 901(i), as recommended by the Select Board, as it is not a large issue in Pittsford and is based on a business decision by the individual businesses. It was recommended complaints received by the Zoning Administrator should be accepted only in writing and Trish Lewis noted there is a policy in place to that effect. Dave Mills agreed with the Zoning Administrator’s recommendation, with the exception of the maximum of two signs. Mr. Biasuzzi stated there was no provision that temporary signs need to follow the same rules. It was questioned whether temporary signs fall into compliance with other sign ordinances and Ms. Lewis noted there are some signs that do not follow the logical pattern. The Zoning Administrator stated “Open” and “Welcome” signs should not be considered in the total number of signs. Chuck Charbonneau expressed concern that limiting the number of signs could cause issues with abutting neighbors in that anything over the two signs would be cause for complaints. Ms. Lewis stated there are people who have bought property in Pittsford who want a rural setting and she thinks that something should be included that would be a compromise and in the rare case of an abuse, there would be something to fall back on. Ms. Lewis also noted zoning can’t be changed once something has gone wrong, so thought has to be taken before an issue comes up.  Kevin Blow questioned when zoning is revised and it was noted that another revision could be done once the Town Plan has been revised and approved.

Trish Lewis provided information regarding an issue with a cell tower and it was noted that telecommunications are exempt from zoning. She stated in this instance the Public Service Board did not ask the town or regional planning commission and approved the application as it was thought it was in keeping with the area from only reviewing local town plans and zoning bylaws – therefore only what in in those plans was considered in this decision. Ms. Lewis pointed out that the process was the issue, and the Planning Commission cannot wait until there is a problem, as any changes to the zoning ordinance requires two Planning Commission hearings and two Select Board hearings and decisions cannot be made retroactive of a permit that has been approved. Ms. Lewis stated if specifics are not placed in the zoning regulations, there are consequences to that, as the State may just look at the by-laws and make a blanket decision based on a review of the town’s by-laws.

The Zoning Administrator stated there are no regulations currently for temporary signs and there needs to be verbiage to regulate the temporary signs. Chuck Charbonneau stated there needs to be a determination of the time limit for temporary signs. The Zoning Administrator suggested a length of time of 37 days. Dave Mills suggested removing Item #2 of the Zoning Administrator’s recommendation for Section 901(i) and as far as the time, he suggested inviting business people to a Planning Commission meeting to provide recommendations. Trish Lewis agreed with removing Item 2, since there is not a huge problem with temporary signs in Pittsford. A recommendation was also made to change the length of time to 90 days.

A motion was made by Dave Mills and seconded by David Soulia to leave in Section 901(i) and adjust the Zoning Administrator’s recommendation noted above; changing the length of time to 90 days in Item 1; Item 2 is to be removed and Item 3 renamed to Item 2 and Section 901(l) to be renamed Item 3 under Section 901(i). The motion passed unanimously.

Item 9: Home Occupation: Remove Section 1104(C) & add to Section 1104(A)(4)

This item was postponed for discussion at the next meeting.

Item 10: Remove material yardage trigger Section 1118

Chuck Charbonneau stated it is important to remove the yardage clause as suggested by the Select Board because different properties should fall under different jurisdictions of yardage. Trish Lewis agreed, however, noted that the section was changed to deal with run-off issues. Dave Mills provided the following wording recommendation for Section 1118:

“No activity shall take place that changes the existing flow of water, diverting it onto an adjacent property, without a permit. To include but not limited to importing or removing material, ditching or tile drainage. If the Administrative Officer determines that a slope in excess of 12% will be created or that there is an undue adverse effect, then the Planning Commission shall review the application under its site plan review criteria.”

A motion was made by David Soulia and seconded by Chuck Charbonneau to accept Dave Mill’s recommended change to Section 1118.  The motion passed unanimously.

Item 11: Temporary Farm Housing: Section 1122 to be removed

This item was postponed for discussion at the next meeting.

Additional Discussion:

The Zoning Administrator recommended replacing the language for Item 8 relating to Section 1003(c )(3) with the following:  “Storm Water Drainage:  Storm Water drainage shall be controlled on site where practical, and shall not cause adverse impact upon the municipality and its infrastructure, or on neighboring properties. VT regulates storm water issues on any project that disturbs more than one (1) acre of land. For additional information on state Storm Water Regulation the property owner should contact VT Department of Environmental Conservation; Water Quality Division prior to start of work.”

A motion by David Soulia and seconded by Trish Lewis to replace the existing verbiage with the Zoning Administrator’s recommendation for Item #8; Section 1003 (c)(3). The motion passed unanimously.

The Zoning Administrator advised that for Item 12 relating to outdoor wood-fired boilers (OWB), it was recommended to keep only the first paragraph that Rula Moradi had provided outlining state law.

A motion was made by David Soulia and seconded by Dave Mills to accept the recommendation by Rula Moradi regarding Item 12 relating to OWB.  The motion passed unanimously.

The Zoning Administrator stated Section 1302B, Exemptions, does not have information noting the Town is exempt from local zoning permit processes. Mr. Biasuzzi stated every time the Town wants to make a change to town property, it will require a permit. The Zoning Administrator provided a recommendation that the following language be added to 1302(b) Permit Exemptions: “Except in Special Flood Hazard Areas; Essential Services and Facilities operated by the Town (road maintenance, waste disposal, police, fire, etc.) are exempt from a local permit requirement. David Soulia questioned why the Town should be except as compared to a taxpayer. Trish Lewis noted almost everything the Town does on a large scale would likely be because of emergency services. Mr. Soulia noted the Town’s actions have the potential of affecting a neighbor’s property. Chuck Charbonneau stated the Town would file all requests through the Select Board, which is providing the information to the public through the Select Board’s meetings.

A motion was made by Dave Mills and seconded by Kevin Blow to add the Zoning Administrator’s recommended language to Section 1302(B) Permit Exemptions. The motion passed unanimously.

Trish Lewis suggested removing all references to parking from the zoning ordinance as she does not think that the Planning Commission should dictate how many parking spaces a business needs. The Zoning Administrator stated there should be a provision that one cannot park in an emergency exit, as this relates to public safety. Trish Lewis stated there are some state issues that cover parking, similar to the outdoor wood boilers and she does not think that the town should have regulations in the zoning ordinances. The Zoning Administrator stated this would be creating a non-rule. Dave Mills expressed concerned about parking in the streets. Chuck Charbonneau stated there can be ordinances created that would dictate parking outside of the zoning regulations. Ms. Lewis stated she has seen many commercial businesses being forced to put in specific parking spots based only on building footprint and not on business needs.

A motion was made by Dave Soulia and seconded by Kevin Blow to approve the Chair’s recommendation to eliminate Section 704: Pooled or Group Parking Facilities in its entirety and any other areas in the zoning ordinance that references mandated parking. The motion passed unanimously.

Trish Lewis will be preparing a report of the Planning Commissions’ recommendations for the Select Board once all items have been discussed.

6. Chair – Bits and Pieces

There was no discussion held.

7. Next Meeting      

Thursday, August 27, 2105 – Regular Meeting

8. Adjournment

By unanimously decision, the Planning Commission meeting adjourned at 9:24PM. The motion passed unanimously.

Respectfully submitted,

Charlene Bryant
Recording Secretary


Approved by,



The Pittsford Planning Commission