Meeting Minutes : Planning Commission

Pittsford Planning Commission Meeting    
August 27, 2015

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

Board Members Absent:  Dave Mills

Also in Attendance: Jeff Biasuzzi – Zoning Administrator, Rick Conway, Mark Winslow

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 David Soulia and seconded by Kevin Blow to accept the agenda, as amended. The motion passed unanimously.

Chair Bits and Pieces moved to immediately following Approval of Minutes.

An executive session will be held with just the Planning Commission members.

3. Approve Minutes

a.     August 6, 2015 Planning Commission Meeting

A motion was made by David Soulia and seconded by Kevin Blow to accept and approve the August 6, 2015 Planning Commission minutes. The motion passed one abstention – Kathryn Brown (Note: Commissioner Kumka was not present at the time of this vote).

4. Chair Bits and Pieces

Trish Lewis advised there will be a VLCT half-day training session regarding the Vermont Open Meeting law on October 7th.  If any Planning Commission member wishes to attend, they were encouraged to advise the Board Chair. The training will take place in Killington and Ms. Lewis encouraged all new members attend. Ms. Lewis stated there will also be a Grant Writing day-long seminar offered at Stafford Technical Center. The deadline for registration of this seminar is September 3rd and is limited to 25 attendees. Ms. Lewis will forward the information regarding both events to board members for their consideration.

Trish Lewis advised that she has completed the grant application, all members have had the opportunity to review it with exception of the budget information which was just completed. The Zoning Administrator had suggested including action items with the Town Plan and this was added to the grant application. Kevin Blow suggested including information about expanding the Industrial Zone, as this might assist in the grant approval. Mr. Blow questioned the information regarding Smart Growth Principles. Trish Lewis advised the state wants to see this information noted in the grant, but she did not highlight it as a main working point. The grant is not locking the board into anything, but the funds would assist in bringing the townspeople together to discuss what direction they would like the town to go. Mr. Blow also suggested adding something about transportation and bike routes for the pedestrians. Ms. Lewis advised a representative from VTrans will be invited to a Planning Commission meeting to discuss the future project. The Zoning Administrator advised that another transportation topic could be the potential for an upgrade to the rail system that runs north to south along the Otter Creek for increased rail service for both freight and a potential Amtrak service. Ms. Lewis noted she will also add information on multi-use paths.

A motion was made by David Soulia and seconded Kevin Blow to approve the grant application, with the addition of the Industrial Zone and Transportation information as discussed, and request the Chair submit the grant application to the Select Board for consideration. The motion passed with one abstention – Cristina Kumka.  

5. Public Forum

Rick Conway expressed concern with the Planning Commission’s recommendation to remove Section 704 – Pooled Parking, as well as references concerning parking in 701, 702 and 703. Mr. Conway has spoken with Kevin Blow, Dave Mills and David Soulia on separate occasions with regard to his concern that this will cause conflicts. Mr. Conway advised it is necessary to have parking regulations due to safety issues and there have been several discussions about run off with regard to parking; as well as site plan approvals requiring parking information.  Mr. Conway was also concerned with the timing of the approval for the proposed Zoning Ordinance, siting Title 24, Chapter 117, Sections 4441 and 4442. Mr. Conway stated the Planning Commission held their hearing and made their changes a year ago, with the public providing their comments. David Soulia stated he still sides with what was voted on, but after discussing this item with Mr. Conway; suggested it may require further consideration. It may be more prudent to finish the Select Board’s requests and then address the parking issue in a future re-address of the Zoning Ordinance.  Mr. Conway stated if the proposed by-laws are not approved within one year, they will be considered disapproved, unless 5% of the voters request a meeting to consider, amend or appeal the bylaws, with the petition filed within 60 days of the end of that year. His concern is that there is a chance the Planning Commission is going to be out of time as of tomorrow because there has not been a written report submitted for review. Mr. Conway stated there had been an issue with new zoning in 2005 and to avoid another issue he recommended contacting legal counsel to assure that the process is done properly.

Mark Winslow wished to applaud the Planning Commission’s decision to look into the expansion of the Industrial and Commercial zones, as he thinks this is an excellent idea.

Trish Lewis advised that she will discuss the timing of the process with an attorney that specializes in municipal issues. Cristina Kumka suggested Mr. Conway email the Committee Chair with his specific concerns. Mr. Conway stated he is not comfortable with using email. Ms. Lewis will advise the Planning Commission and Zoning Board of her findings. Ms. Lewis stated it would be possible for her to write a report tomorrow and submit it to the Select Board, if this is required. Mr. Conway noted that he is on the Zoning Board and advised there were issues with a past adoption process, which required the Zoning Board revert back to prior bylaws and hold additional hearings to assure that proper procedure was used. Mr. Conway noted when he was previously on the Planning Commission, the zoning that was written was sent to the state for review. Cristina Kumka met with Ed Bove of the Regional Planning Commission in May and it was suggested that the document be reviewed by an attorney. Trish Lewis advised the Planning Commission did have an attorney present when discussing the updates.  The Chair was not against having it reviewed, but noted it will be a cost to the Town. Ms. Lewis will first check the timing issue and will look into the possibility of a review by counsel. Ms. Kumka also suggested the Regional Planning Commission could do a review. The Zoning Administrator stated VLCT would review the document at a lesser cost. It was noted that the ZBA would work off the current bylaws if the proposed bylaws are not passed within a year.

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

Cristina Kumka read the following memo of 5/26/15 with regard to the review and recommendation of the Select Board’s proposed revisions to the Zoning Ordinance Amendment #9 – Home Occupation:

“Upon meeting with Ed Bove, Executive Director of the Rutland Regional Planning Commission today, the following review offers options and recommendations on how to proceed.

Home Occupations:

Select Board Recommendation: Remove sections 1104C and 1104D in their entirety, while adding any restrictions to Section 1104A(4) as deemed desirable.

Zoning Administrator Recommendation: In paragraph D, the 30% definition is important. Other qualifications in D can be merged into A and B.


1)  Matters of fact

a.     Home occupations are permitted uses in all Pittsford zones (see page 10). Cottage Industry is not defined in the zoning ordinance; therefore we have no idea what it is.

b.     Home occupation is already defined in existing Pittsford zoning as, “a business that is conducted in or on the same lot as a one or two-family dwelling, which use is clearly incidental and secondary to the use of the dwelling for residential purposes and does not change the residential character or appearance therefore.” (see page 68)

c.     Home occupation regulations are already detailed in existing Sections 1104 A and B.

2) Questions to ask

a.     What does the Commission feel is best for the town and the public? “In a lot of zoning, people want to protect residential areas from non-residential uses,” Bove said. Does the Commission want to protect the town or allow for more business development out of homes?

b.     Does the Commission feel automotive repair and service is bad for residential areas? “If auto repair is allowed to be a home occupation, it opens the door for industrialized neighborhoods. Mixed use is good but there’s a property value connection as well,” Bove said. Will auto repair and service out of someone’s home drop the property value of someone else trying to sell their home in that neighborhood?


1)  Make auto bodywork, service and repair a permitted home occupation but make Section 1104A, #4, more robust to include oil and anything else from cars that may be environmentally detrimental or detrimental to the character of neighborhoods. Also, keep Section 1104D intact or flow it into other paragraphs as it is consistent with zoning in many other Rutland County towns.

a.     What this will do: Allow this to be a permitted use in all Pittsford districts. Mendon and Killington zoning ordinances do not mention auto as a forbidden home occupation, therefore allowing it under their ordinances.  In Mendon, however, noise ordinances are more heavily defined, thus a more robust use restriction in Section 1104A(4) as stated above.

2)  Make auto home repair a conditional use, which would allow for it with a permit issued after review by the zoning administrator and this board. And, take zoning administrator’s recommendation to keep Section 1104D qualifications or merge them into other parts of the section, for reasons stated above.

a.     What this will do: Allow for the town to have some oversight over the nature of auto repair in the home and where they will go and what to expect from the neighbors and from the business. It will allow for auto repair and service as a conditional use in all neighborhoods as long as criteria is met (see page 15 for conditional use criteria).

Option 2 is the preferred choice of the Regional Planner.”

It was not known why this zoning ordinance was originally included in the town’s ordinances. Kevin Blow had initially brought this to the Planning Commission’s attention, however, he noted that he does not have a vested interest in changing the ordinance; rather he would like to see the ordinance changed as he does not think it is appropriate to restrict property owners in this manner. Trish Lewis agreed that this is a subjective matter and her preference would be to make it a conditional use, so that the neighbors have the option to voice their opinion and there could be conditions included to assist with neighbors’ concerns, if any. Chuck Charbonneau stated there are state restrictions that would address some issues of concern. David Soulia expressed concern that when talking about limiting people’s property, he does not feel that the Planning Commission should to tell people what to do with their properties. Mr. Soulia recommended accepting the Select Board’s recommendation for now and take the information obtained for round two of the zoning ordinance review for making changes at that time. Chuck Charbonneau noted that many vehicles that are legal on the highway can be louder than some other types of noise.

A motion was David Soulia and seconded by Chuck Charbonneau to accept the Select Board’s recommendation for Item 9 – Home Occupations and to change the reference
“Cottage Industry” to “Home Occupation” as this was an oversight and the terms have the same meaning. The motion passed unanimously.

Kevin Blow clarified the motion includes the removal of the percentages and it was confirmed that this was the case. Trish Lewis also clarified that the change of all phrases indicating “Cottage Industry” to “Home Occupation” is also an additional change from the Select Board’s proposed changes, as “Home Occupation” is defined under Definitions.

Cristina Kumka read the following memo of 5/26/15 with regard to the review and recommendation of the Select Board’s proposed revisions to the Zoning Ordinance Amendment #11 – Farm Worker Housing:

“Select Board recommendation: remove Section 1122 in its entirety.

Zoning Administration recommendation: Keep only first paragraph of 1122B.


1)  Matters of Fact

a.     Farm worker housing is already permitted but also regulated by Section 1110: Lot density limitations, which allows for a second dwelling unit made available for farm employees. (see page 37)

2)  Questions to Ask

a.     Does the Commission think more rules for farm workers is good or bad for the town? Will this help farmers?

b.     Is this needed?


1)  Deregulate farm worker housing and get rid of the proposed zoning.

a.     What this will do: There will be no limitations on who can live on a farm for what period of time and how they live: Is it a healthy and safe living space? The second structure on the lot can be anywhere on the lot, even in undeveloped areas or bare lands. There will be no limits on parking, setbacks or driveways for the second structure for farm workers.

2) Eliminate conditions A – D. Keep sentence “farm worker housing is subject to the approval of a zoning permit…” and last paragraph, “shall comply with all applicable state and federal health and safety regulations…”

a.     What this will do: Gives the zoning administrator the oversight needed to issue a permit for a safe living environment for farm workers without any added burdens or restrictions on farming employers as far as who can live on their land in a second structure and where it can be located on the same lot.

3)  Keep Section 1122 and tighten up/reduce the language, add a bulleted list. Keep first paragraph then add:

a.     Farm worker housing must be located near the active farm or on it.

b.     Farm worker housing can include multi-, single-family, apartments, mobile homes or a maximum of three recreational vehicles and only during the growing or harvesting season.

c.     Housing can’t be on bare land or fields or any land undeveloped.

d.     Housing must share the same access drive and setback and dimensional requirements of the principle structure and its defined zone.

4)  Keep last paragraph.

a.     What this will do: Maintains safe living conditions for farm workers and sets clear parameters for farmer employers.

Item 3 was the first recommendation and Item 2 was the second recommended choice of the Regional Planning Commissioner.”

The Zoning Administrator stated this ordinance allows for RV’s to be used as housing, as most towns have this type of regulation, but the specific language could be changed. He questioned if this has been a huge issue in the town, as he suspects this was triggered by an event. Trish Lewis advised there was a farmer who was refused the ability to bring in seasonal workers due to zoning issues. The proposed ordinance is intended to help the farmers. It was noted the issue is in the use of recreational vehicles.   The Zoning Administrator advised the ordinance could address that the host farm have a way of providing potable water and disposal of waste, which may mean getting a holding tank, if it wanted to provide seasonal housing. Jeff Biasuzzi noted if the section is removed in its entirety, it will affect the farmers. Cristina Kumka noted the farm worker buildings are accepted under Section 1110 under lot density; however, this does not address RV’s. If Section B is maintained, it would allow farm density and would allow farm worker housing that would include RV’s; subject to state regulations for potable water, fire codes and wastewater. Some or all of the paragraphs could be included to allow for the farmer to have two structures to be used and for use of RV’s and mobile homes. Ms. Kumka suggested another option of eliminating Sections A – D, but maintaining that the zoning shall comply with all safety regulations. Mr. Biasuzzi stated this would require permitting and would put the burden on the Zoning Administrator to do enforcement. Mr. Biasuzzi stated he is not qualified, nor budgeted, to do this type of a process. The third recommendation was to do a bulleted list and have it reviewed by an attorney. Chuck Charbonneau suggested removing the restriction of three RV’s. The Zoning Administrator stated this would not be a problem as long as water and septic are addressed.

A motion was made by Cristina Kumka and seconded by David Soulia, in an effort to help farmers with recreation vehicles for seasonal workers, to keep Section 1122B – Farm Worker Housing, but remove the restriction on the number of vehicles placed on the property at any time regarding recreational vehicles and to keep the last paragraph of Section 1122 that addresses health, safety and fire requirements. The motion passed unanimously.

Trish Lewis stated she will obtain clarification on the timing issue tomorrow and requested consensus of the Planning Commission, if the timing is in line, to move forward with writing the summary of the 13 points and submitting it to the Select Board for consideration. It was recommended that all minutes and written recommendations be provided as back-up to the Select Board. Ms. Lewis stated explanation of the proposed changes can be provided by the Planning Commission members during the Select Board meeting. The Zoning Administrator advised that the Planning Commission hearing was held on 9/18/14. It was noted that under 24 VSA Chapter 117, Section 4442, Paragraph G, the timeline is within one year of the final hearing of the planning commission.

With regard to the parking item, David Soulia suggested action on this item as a result of further discussion of the change. The Zoning Administrator advised that under site review there are criteria for parking and this may be all that is needed.

A motion was made by David Soulia and seconded by Kevin Blow to go with the recommendation of the Select Board for parking and to rescind the vote from the last meeting regarding the removal of parking in the zoning ordinance, due to further consideration. The motion passed with two abstentions: Cristina Kumka and Kathryn Brown.

A motion was made by Cristina Kumka and seconded by David Soulia to send the proposed amended Zoning Ordinance, with all changes made to date, for final approval to the Select Board.  The motion passed unanimously.

Ms. Lewis reiterated that she will confirm the deadline; however, it appears that it is 9/18/15. Chuck Charbonneau requested the Zoning Administrator provide a document outlining all of the proposed changes to the Planning Commission members.

A motion was made by David Soulia and seconded by Kevin Blow to enter into Executive Session at 9:05PM for the purpose of discussing a personnel issue.  The motion passed unanimously.

7. Executive Session

The Board came out of Executive Session at 9:57PM.  There were no actions required.

8. Next Meeting                                

Thursday, September 24, 2015 – Regular Meeting

9. Adjournment

A motion was made by David Soulia and seconded by Chuck Charbonneau to adjourn the meeting at 9:59PM. The motion passed unanimously.

Respectfully submitted,
Charlene Bryant
Recording Secretary


Approved by,



The Pittsford Planning Commission