Board Members Present: Dave Mills, Kevin Blow, Mark Winslow, Ted Gillen, Rick Conway, Tom Markowski, David Soulia
Also in Attendance: Tharon Malay, Jeffrey Biasuzzi
1. Call to order
The meeting was called to order at 7:00PM by Dave Mills – Chair.
2. Approval of Agenda
A motion was made by Kevin Blow and seconded by David Soulia to approve the agenda. The motion passed unanimously.
3. Approval of Minute
September 27, 2018
A motion was made by Kevin Blow and seconded by David Soulia to approve the minutes of the September 27, 2018 meeting. The motion passed unanimously.
4. Public Comments
Tharon Malay reported he had a discussion with the Select Board regarding the enhanced energy plan that was discussed at the last Planning Commission meeting. Mr. Malay contacted Barbara Noyes-Pulling at Rutland Regional Planning Commission (RRPC) and was advised that it will probably be December or January before they can start working on the plan with Pittsford. Mr. Malay is waiting for information on how long this process will take and will advise the Planning Commission once information is received. The RRPC will provide this service to the town.
David Soulia noted that after the article in the Rutland Herald about Dollar General, there are Planning Commission members that do not want growth in the village and there are also some issues with growth outside the village as well. It was not thought this is fiscally responsible and fair. Mr. Soulia will be approaching the Select Board to request creating a new tax rate within the village, as the village needs to pay more to be fiscally responsible. If the Town is going to denying the property owners on Routes 3 and 7 from developing, the Town needs to tax the village for the privilege of not growing. Ted Gillen noted the statement was not accurate, as he does want to encourage growth, as long as it is done in a safe and respectable manner and noted there is a lot more than what was written in the article. Mr. Gillen noted it is not that he does not want something developed on the site, just not the site plan that was presented. Mr. Soulia stated the owner of the property has tried to develop this site on more than one occasion, which would have helped relieve the tax burden. Rick Conway stated the village wants to control what is going on in the village and outside the Town. Mr. Conway noted this is private property and businesses spend a lot of money in going through the permitting process to comply with State and Town regulations. Previously there had been an attempt to eliminate the Commercial districts altogether, which has been corrected with the proposed changes. He noted there are many houses in town that are in disrepair and the visual image is very important. Mr. Winslow stated there are many houses that are abandoned or empty and someone will likely purchase them and will want to remove them. Tharon Malay stated with regard to the article that was written, the reason the developer pulled out was because of the conditions of the approved application due to the cross appeal that the ZBA placed on them. Mr. Soulia noted there is an ongoing fight on expansion and growth and those that do not want expansion should have to pay for the privilege. Mr. Gillen wants to promote economic development, but wants to do it in a responsible manner and to keep the public safe. Dave Mills noted that the comments were not directed at Mr. Gillen. Mr. Mills expressed concern that a town that has nothing new in it is a town that is dying. There needs to be something new happening. Mr. Malay stated they are not against economic development, but their issue with the project under discussion was due to safety and congestion.
Jeff Biasuzzi advised the Zoning budget was due last Friday to the Town Manager. Dave Mills reported he had already submitted the Zoning budget to the Town Manager.
5. Zoning Changes Review
Map, Language, Table of Uses
Dave Mills provided the Planning Commission members the proposed zoning changes for their review. Rick Conway provided a copy of the proposed Zoning District map for the members’ review. Mark Winslow thought the changes and map looked good. Mr. Conway stated the Table of Contents needs to be corrected to reflect the proper page numbers. Mr. Conway noted there is not a line through Rural Commercial under Uses on Page 9, which needs to be corrected. Jeff Biasuzzi asked if the Planning Commission has reviewed Rural Commercial versus Commercial in the Uses. Dave Mills advised the review has been completed and the Planning Commission members are in agreement. Mr. Biasuzzi suggested going through the Commercial zoning to see if Manufacturing is noted.
A motion was made by David Soulia and seconded by Mark Winslow to make Manufacturing a conditional use in the Commercial Zone. The motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Biasuzzi stated Footnote 3 at the end of Commercial Use refers to a “Flexibility Clause” where by if a use is omitted in the table; an applicant can bring it to the Zoning Board to demonstrate the business is compatible with the location. Mr. Biasuzzi noted this could be confusing to most people and suggested the zoning language could be improved or clarified prior to adoption. Rick Conway stated the Zoning Board has not had a previous issue with this clause and did not see a problem with it and did not want to change it without an attorney’s opinion. Mr. Soulia suggested any business that is not on the list could be clarified by a discussion with the Planning Commission. Mr. Biasuzzi asked about Planned Residential Development and it was confirmed that this is in the update.
A motion was made by Kevin Blow and seconded by David Soulia to approve the proposed zoning changes and proposed zoning districts. The motion passed with one no vote – Ted Gillen.
Ted Gillen was not comfortable with all of the changes, as he is not a fan of the expansion of everything. Kevin Blow stated the changes have been proposed due to requests from residents.
6. Set Date and Place for Zoning Hearing
Dave Mills and David Soulia will make the final updates to the proposed zoning document and map for submission to the Town Clerk for placement on the Town’s website. Any comments on the changes should be directed to the Planning Commission Chair. Jeff Biasuzzi will send a copy of the revised ordinance to the abutting towns, regional and state planning commissions 30 days in advance. The first public hearing was scheduled for December 13th at 7:00PM at the Pittsford Town Office.
A motion was made by David Soulia and seconded by Tom Markowski to set the Planning Commissions’ public hearing to amend the zoning ordinance and zoning district map for December 13th at 7:00PM at the Pittsford Town Office. The motion passed unanimously.
7. Report on Planning Conference (Conway/Blow/Biasuzzi)
Kevin Blow reported the first discussion was regarding farming. Jeff Biasuzzi will forward the Planning Commission members the information that was provided on the four seminars held. The change regarding Accessories on Farm Business took effect July 1st. There are several new regulations with the limits on regulations for farms being done by the Agency, not the towns. There can be Act 250 or wastewater requirements needed. There is nothing that can prevent doing accessory business on farms. Agriculture exemptions exist, but have to be determined by the Agency. There is a 15-year statute of limitations that the municipality cannot restrict. Regulated agriculture procedures include maple-sugaring, cideries and wineries are permitted, but distilleries are not an agriculture production. If a farm ceases operation, the accessory use would cease. Mr. Conway stated this appears to be a poorly written rule. He asked if a zoning administrator denies an application whether it would it be appealable to a DRB. It was confirmed that it would be. Mr. Conway did not think that financial information should have to be shown as this would be considered public information if it is submitted to a zoning administrator. Mr. Conway stated that municipalities were encouraged to consult their town attorney with regard to the changes.
Mr. Blow stated affordable housing was discussed and all municipalities were encouraged to try to promote it and reduce the regulations. Mr. Biasuzzi advised the information he will send the members provides information on affording an average house in Vermont. There is an agency that works with municipalities to get affordable housing projects. Mr. Biasuzzi noted the Committee made recommendations of what a municipality can do to encourage affordable housing.
There were also seminars concerning signage and zoning administrator responsibilities. With regard to signage, the message was that a municipality can regulate the dimensions, but cautioned regulating the message of what is on the sign, due to a Vermont Supreme Court case relating to freedom of speech. It was noted there are some towns that have sign ordinances that are several pages of restrictions. It was noted that Pittsford has a generous sign ordinance.
8. Schedule Date/Agenda for Next Meeting
Dave Mills asked if a hearing will be coming up, as the Planning Commission does not usually hold a meeting in November. Jeff Biasuzzi reported there is an application, but a hearing date has not been set due to a potential subdivision that will require Planning Commission approval. The owners have the survey work almost complete and will be doing a three-lot subdivision through Act 250. This will require a subdivision approval by either the Planning Commission or Zoning Board. Mr. Biasuzzi noted the owners would like this completed as soon as possible. It was the consensus of the Planning Commission to cancel the regular meeting for November and if required, a special meeting could be called for the hearing.
December 13, 2018 @ 7PM – Special Meeting and Hearing
A motion was made by David Soulia and seconded by Kevin Blow to adjourn the meeting at 8:14PM. The motion passed unanimously.
The Pittsford Planning Commission