Board Members Present: David Soulia, Kevin Blow, Dave Mills, Rick Conway, Mark Winslow, Chuck Charbonneau, Ted Gillen
Also in Attendance: Jeff Biasuzzi – Zoning Administrator, Mark Pape, Peggy Rawlings, Tharon Malay, Hank Pelkey
Call to order
The meeting was called to order at 6:00PM by Dave Mills – Chair.
Approval of Agenda
A motion was made by David Soulia and seconded by Mark Winslow to approve the agenda as amended. The motion passed.
Add Comments from Board Chair following Public Comments
Approval of Minutes
February 22, 2018
A motion was made by Rick Conway and seconded by David Soulia to approve the minutes of February 22, 2018 meeting. The motion passed.
There was no discussion held.
Comments from Board Chair
Dave Mills welcomed Ted Gillen as the new member of the Planning Commission appointed by the Select Board.
Mr. Gillen grew up in Chittenden and spent most of his life in the area. He currently works for the DPW in Rutland City and resides in Pittsford. Mr. Gillen to be sworn in by someone in the Town Clerk’s Office.
Election of Officers
Chair of the Planning Commission
A motion was made by Chuck Charbonneau and seconded by Rick Conway to appoint Dave Mills as the Chair of the Pittsford Planning Commission.
Mr. Mills agreed to remain as Chair with the caveat that David Soulia will continue to handle the meeting agenda process. Mr. Soulia agreed.
The motion passed.
Vice-Chair of the Planning Commission
A motion was made by Kevin Blow and seconded by Rick Conway to appoint Mark Winslow as Vice-Chair of the Pittsford Planning Commission. The motion passed.
Rutland Regional Planning Commission Alternate
Dave Mills reported the Select Board has reappointed David Soulia as the Alternate to Rutland Regional Planning Commission. Mr. Soulia advised that he will be live-streaming the RRPC meetings going forward through Facebook Live and viewing will be available via VGNP.org or Facebook.com/VGNP.
Rick Conway wanted to be sure that all members of the Planning Commission have completed the appropriate documentation relative to serving on the Commission. Dave Mills will confirm this detail with the Town Clerk.
Dave Mills requested recommendations for changes to the Zoning Ordinance, noting there was discussion of changes along Routes 3 and 7. Mr. Mills has discussed the potential changes with the listers, who will assist in determining the properties affected by the changes. Rick Conway noted this will bring the Zoning map in line with the Town Plan map and suggested there needs to be discussion of the Industrial district. Mr. Conway thought this needs to be done in the same manner as a zoning changes, with notification to the property owners by both in person and by letter. David Soulia noted the changes would allow more freedom of the property and less restrictions. Jeff Biasuzzi suggested the tax map could be used to determine the properties affected and there is software that could be used for this process, as it is a relatively limited number of properties. Dave Mills advised the listers have indicated they could do the mailing labels for the project. Mr. Biasuzzi suggested with the adoption of changes to the zoning regulations, there could be some tweaks done in terms of definitions. Pittsford definitions are good, but there are inconsistencies in the zoning ordinance that causes some problems for the zoning administrator. Mr. Biasuzzi advised Change of Use is not in the definitions. He stated there is not clarification that defines change of use, though there is no state definition for change of use. Mr. Conway suggested legal counsel review this type of change. Dave Mills requested the Zoning Administrator develop a list of items that need defining prior to the next meeting. The zoning change is the priority, but when going through the process it would be good to make those types of changes at the same time. Mr. Biasuzzi will provide a list by the next meeting.
Mr. Biasuzzi requested the Planning Commission provide the specifics on the proposed changes and a draft letter for a mailing to all affected property owners. Chuck Charbonneau noted that Route 3 is to be changed from Rural Commercial to Commercial. Dave Mills agreed that everything to Clarks with the farm being conserved. Beyond Stevens Road, there is a short section that has a high density of housing and the other side is swamp and proposed the Commercial designation end at Taranovich’s field. Rick Conway suggested waiting to determine the change once comments are received from the property owners. The proposed changes for Route 7 North would be going from the Rasmussen property to the Pittsford town line.
With regard to the Industrial zone, it was suggested the zone would change to what is on the Future Land Use map with the southern end from the corner of the river and extend to the Brandon town line. This would include all quarries in the area. Rick Conway suggested he could work with Steve Shields of the RRPC on the proposed Zoning map. Ted Gillen noted he would be working with Steve Shields as one of his primary roles with the DPW.
Dave Mills confirmed the Zoning Administrator would obtain the names from the map for the areas discussed for potential zoning changes. The Planning Commission members will provide the Mr. Biasuzzi with suggestions for the letter to compile for creation of the letter at the next meeting.
David Soulia suggested discussion of the topic of smart growth in the village. Mr. Mills requested the new Pittsford Committee review the list of uses for the village and advise the Planning Commission if there should be proposed changes to zoning. Tharon Malay advised he would be meeting with the Town Manager to discuss meeting dates for the new Committee consisting of Mr. Malay, Richi Connelly, Ernie Clerihew and Tammy Hitchcock. The new Committee will be soliciting input and will bring suggestions to the Planning Commission for possible changes.
Rick Conway noted he received a copy of the certificate that was sent to the Department of Community and Housing Affairs and the Select Board has approved the Town Plan.
Dave Mills provide an overview of the difference between Dylan’s Rule and Home Rule states. Dylan’s Rule is where the legislature dictates what the towns can do whereas Home Rule allows for towns do to whatever they want. In researching this area, Mr. Mills reported Pittsford was originally a Home Rule town because it was settled before the State of Vermont. Vermont is a Dylan’s Rule state, however when Pittsford decided to join the village and town together in the 1960’s, it changed to a Dylan’s Rule town. This limits some of the things that can be done because the town has to act according to the legislature and therefore has to follow state statutes. David Soulia noted a Home Rule town gets greater power pushing back, but a Dylan’s Rule town exists because the State made it so and has to follow the State’s rules. Vermont is a combination of both Dylan’s Rule and Home Rule towns. Mr. Soulia advised he has been researching the concept of a sanctuary city for farms and a Home Rule town would be allowed to do things outside the regulations of the Vermont Department of Agriculture. Dave Mills advised there are variations across the country, but most states are according to Dylan’s Rule. David Soulia requested anyone having information on the Town’s history concerning the combining of the town and village to contact him. Mr. Conway suggested looking at the Select Board minutes from 1965 forward in researching this item.
Jeff Biasuzzi questioned whether the Commission wanted to discuss subdivision regulations. It was thought that the zoning changes were the priority before moving forward with the subdivision regulations.
Dave Mills stated Lyle Jepson, Executive Director of REDC, has advised there is a Rutland Initiative that is trying to boost the economy of this region. Mr. Jepson has asked if the Pittsford Planning Commission would be interested in a presentation at one of their meetings. All were in agreement with Mr. Jepson providing a presentation at a subsequent meeting. David Soulia will speak with Mr. Jepson about scheduling the presentation. REDC will also be hosting some future meetings concerning the changes to Act 250 and there will be a seminar scheduled in mid-April. Any Planning Commission member interested in attending was encouraged to contact Mr. Biasuzzi for more information. A date has not been set, but it is planned that one of the meetings will be held in the Rutland area. Mr. Mills suggested the Planning Commission members watch the RRPC meeting taping from last week. Ed Bove of the RRPC provided a Planning 101 presentation. The taping included discussions with Mr. Mills and Mr. Soulia concerning the Pittsford village. It was noted that Pittsford has concerns with concentrating growth within the village as there is not a desire to tear down buildings in the village, which is the reason for expanding the commercial areas. There is also the issue of the Route 7 project in replacing sidewalks that will then be torn up when the project goes through Pittsford. Mr. Mills noted it has been the consensus of the community that they want Pittsford to remain a bedroom town. Mr. Mills stated the concept is for businesses to be concentrated in the village on the first floors of the buildings, with residential areas on the upper floors. It was thought that the Route 7 project in the village has been pushed out to 2028. Hank Pelkey advised the water lines will have to be redone because the State has changed their plans. Rick Conway noted concern about plans that dictate where people should live. He stated there are many producers in the Town, but not enough, but he does not think the Planning Commission has the right to force these types of regulations on people. Mr. Conway sees many empty places in Town and many houses and sidewalks that have not been maintained and the Town is suffering from many things that are beyond its control. Jeff Biasuzzi stated there are many towns in the same situation and many roots that run deep and Pittsford is not alone in this situation. Mr. Biasuzzi stated another issue is the aging population. He noted Main Street could benefit from a fresh coat of paint and the village-designated district provides 25% discounts for commercial properties. There is also a new program for residential properties that are in the village district. It was note the Town needs more jobs and activities to attract young people to the area. With regards to updating the zoning, Mr. Biasuzzi stated Tucel Brushes wanted to move to the Taranovich’s building and it would have been possible if it had been zoned Commercial as opposed to the current Rural Commercial. If a specific use does not fit a zoning area, but a demonstration of similar uses in an area could provide for an exception. There are towns that indicate if there are comparable uses; the board has the license to make a decision on a business. In the Table of Uses, Mr. Biasuzzi suggested the Zoning Board might want to expand on the existing language.
Schedule Date/Agenda for Next Meeting
April 26, 2018 – Planning Commission Meeting
Agenda: Maintain Items 1 through 4 of current agenda, Zoning Administrator to provide a list of definitions, possible committee report from the newly formed Pittsford Committee
A motion was made by Mark Winslow and seconded by Rick Conway to adjourn the meeting at 8:40PM. The motion passed unanimously.
The Pittsford Planning Commission