Board Members Present: Dave Mills, Kevin Blow, Mark Winslow, Ted Gillen, Rick Conway
Also in Attendance: Derek Saari, Joe Gavregan, Tharon Malay, Ernie Clerihew, Alicia Malay, Rishi Connelly, Jeffrey Biasuzzi
- Call to order
The meeting was called to order at 7:00PM by Dave Mills – Chair.
- Approval of Agenda
A motion was made by Mark Winslow and seconded by Kevin Blow to approve the agenda, as amended. The motion passed unanimously.
- Approval of Minutes – June 28, 2018
A motion was made by Kevin Blow and seconded by Rick Conway to approve the minutes of the June 28, 2018 meeting, as amended. The motion passed with one abstention – Mark Winslow.
For clarification, Rick Conway suggested adding the wording Designated Village Center Map under the Discussion of Zoning Changes so that it is not confused with the Zoning Map.
- Public Comments
Alicia Malay asked what the Planning Commission had in mind for economic development. John Haverstock had reached out to the committees regarding a planning grant that had a deadline of October 1st. It was thought this was part of what the subcommittee was tasked to do. Richi Connelly stated they talked to the Select Board about funding available and Mr. Haverstock had provided information on a planning grant but had not heard back from the Planning Commission. Dave Mills advised the Planning Commission had not met since the email had been received. Jeff Biasuzzi noted the grant was for planning and zoning and most grants go to those towns that are updating their town plans. There was not a lot of advance notice provided and a change this year to the grant process includes a 10% match from the towns. Mr. Mills reported any funding allocated would have to come from the Select Board, but is a subject that should be discussed as the Town needs economic development. If a future grant becomes available, there will be discussion with the Select Board. Mr. Biasuzzi noted the grants are awarded based on different criteria than other grants. They evaluate the strength of the grant and how well a town has used grants and how many grants a town has been awarded. Mr. Biasuzzi reported there will be a course offered in October on how to write a planning grant.
- Zoning Comments
Derek Saari – Assessment Dispute
Derek Saari was present to discuss his property located in the Conversation II district near Hubbardton. He has a camp, garage and a shell for a single-family house on the property. Mr. Saari has gone to the Board of Civil Authority regarding his homestead property tax, as he feels the assessment is too high. In reviewing other Conservation II districts in Town, this district varies from others, as there will never be power in this area. Mr. Saari noted under Title 24, there is a reason for mitigating tax burden on agriculture land. He would like to discuss the possibility of creating a Conservation III district on the Hubbardton side with a change in the zoning description to notate this district does not have power. He stated there are many uses outlined in the Conservation II district that would not be applicable in this district. He noted all Conservation II districts need to be reviewed, as they are clearly all different, with this district being very unique. Mr. Saari noted some uses that would not be applicable to this district would be dairy processing and distributing, day care facility, family childcare home facility and planned parcel development. Mr. Saari stated knowing the terrain, what he is trying to do is compliment the language. Rick Conway expressed concern with spot zoning and the potential for litigation. Mr. Conway advised the Town just finished the Town Plan, with one of the issues being contiguous forest. Mr. Conway believes the upland conservation went into effect in 1989 and assumed that Mr. Saari was aware of the regulations when purchasing the property. Mr. Saari confirmed that he was aware, but noted the Conservation II district on the Hubbardton side is not similar to the other Conservation II districts in the remainder of Town. Other considerations could be elevation and the soil types, as they are completely different from other districts. Donna Wilson reported the listers do not look at the conservation districts, but consider topography and wetlands. Mr. Conway asked what Mr. Saari’s intentions are for the property. Mr. Saari advised his intention was to eventually live there, which is still a goal. Mr. Saari’s point of looking at the zoning is to distinguish that area from other parts of the community because there is a relationship to assessment. He asked if the valuation on a homestead is the same, when one does not have power. It was noted there is a view tax in Pittsford and Ms. Wilson stated due to access, there is exception given. Mr. Saari assumed the Town did not want a lot of development in the Conservation II districts and suggested a revision of uses to potentially exclude items such as telecommunications in Conservation II districts. Mr. Winslow noted some of the Conservation II districts are at the whim of other towns. Rick Conway noted the charge of the Select Board is to increase the tax base in Town and putting more regulations on properties could be a deterrent. The purpose of zoning is to protect the properties, without putting restrictions on them. Mr. Conway advised the Public Service Board ultimately makes the end decisions for wind and communications. Mr. Saari advised he is very passionate about Pittsford and has done a lot of work in that area to preserve it.J. Biasuzzi – Upcoming Planning & Zoning Forum – Municipal Government Day EventsJeff Biasuzzi provided information to the Planning Commission and subcommittee concerning October planning and zoning events. The VLCT’s Fall Planning and Zoning forum will be held at Lake Morey on October 17th. The deadline for registration is October 10th. Mr. Biasuzzi encouraged any members interested in attending the forum to contact his office. There will also be a Vermont Municipal Planning Day at the National Life building in Montpelier.
- Discuss Zoning Changes
Dave Mills noted Mr. Saari’s information will be taken under consideration for discussion at a future meeting.
Rick Conway questioned if the subcommittee is working on an energy plan. Tharon Malay reported the only way to obtain substantial deference, as opposed to due consideration is for the Town to have an approved energy plan. The municipal planning commission would have the ability to view energy projects in the town if there was an energy plan in place. Mr. Malay advised that currently there are funds available from RRPC for energy plan development if the Planning Commission wants the subcommittee to work on an enhanced energy plan. Within a plan, a town can indicate preferred locations. Mr. Malay stated if it is decided to move forward with an energy plan, it would be a comprehensive plan that would then provide the Planning Commission the ability to review projects due to having substantial deference. David Mills noted Brandon has a project that is going in an undesirable location. They are currently working on an energy plan and if it had already been in place, they could have had more leverage. Mr. Conway noted Representative Shaw suggested the Town have an energy plan. It was the consensus of the Planning Commission for the subcommittee to pursue the enhanced energy plan grant.
A motion was made by Mark Winslow and seconded by Rick Conway for the subcommittee to pursue the enhanced energy plan grant through the RRPC. The motion passed unanimously.Ernie Clerihew advised information relating to the municipal energy enhanced planning grant can be viewed on line through the Vermont Association of Planning and Development. Jeff Biasuzzi suggested the subcommittee could research where substantial deference has been used in project.
Mark Winslow suggested a subcommittee discussion be added to future agendas to keep the Planning Commission informed. Dave Mills suggested the subcommittee contact the Planning Commission Chair to add items to future agendas for transparency.
Dave Mills confirmed all discussions are concluded relative to the zoning changes and requested information from the Zoning Administrator regarding the hearing process to amend the zoning. Jeff Biasuzzi advised the warning has to be 30 days in advance of the hearing and notification has to be sent to abutting towns, the State Economic Opportunity Commission, and Regional and State Planning Commissions. A town has 150 days from first Planning Commission hearing to adopting the zoning regulations, or the proposals are not considered in effect. There will be one Planning Commission hearing and the Select Board will have two public hearings within the 150 days. Mr. Mills stated the table of uses was changed and the maps are completed and the Planning Commission is prepared to move forward. Steve Shields of the RRPC will have to provide a land use map. Mr. Biasuzzi advised he will compile the documentation and send a draft to the Planning Commission for review and approval at the next meeting. He will also include a schedule of the adoption process for the Planning Commissions’ information.
- Report on Act 250 Listening Tour (Mark Winslow)
Mark Winslow reported Mr. Biasuzzi and he attended one of the Act 250 Listening Tour meetings. It was thought the meeting was to hear public comments about Act 250 and to provide input on changes. He stated it was a structured meeting by the people from Act 250 and their attorneys. Introductions were made and a few brief comments were provided. The meeting consisted of small group discussions from a predetermined list of topics. This was not a listening tour, as there were no comments allowed by anyone. There was a vast array of people that were divided into smaller groups and provided categories that people were to rank. Mr. Winslow stated it was very structured and was not something for the public, as advertised and noted many people in attendance were upset with the structure of the meeting. Jeff Biasuzzi stated his group had suggested Act 250 has outlasted its usefulness because many towns have zoning. It was reported that 90% of applications are approved within 60 days, however, there was comment that applications require experts and attorneys and is a costly process. The topics focused on environment and agriculture and whether there should be more regulations. Mr. Winslow advised that his group ranked economic development high. It was suggested that Act 250 have a meeting that would provide public input. Mr. Biasuzzi advised information from the meetings will be provided this fall. Rick Conway expressed concern the survey sent to the Planning Commission members regarding Act 250 did not provide confirmation once the survey was completed.
- Schedule Date/Agenda for Next Meeting
October 25, 2018 @ 7PM
A motion was made by Mark Winslow and seconded by Rick Conway to adjourn the meeting at 8:25PM. The motion passed unanimously.
The Pittsford Planning Commission