Pittsford Planning Commissiong Hearing – Zoning Amendments – Draft
January 24, 2019
Board Members Present: Dave Mills, Kevin Blow, Mark Winslow, Ted Gillen, Rick Conway, Tom Markowski, David Soulia
Also in Attendance: Jeff Biasuzzi, Ed Brutkoski, Tammy Hitchcock, Gary Kupferer, Mike Getcha, Dolores Lee, Ernie Clerihew, Betsy Morgan, Craig Bill, Al Vitagliano, Hank Pelkey, Steve Mitowski, Thomas Desforges
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 Mark Winslow and seconded by David Soulia to approve the agenda. The motion passed unanimously.
3. Swearing In
All participants that would be giving testimony were sworn in by Dave Mills.
4. Planning Commission Comments
Rick Conway read the following statement provided by Mark Winslow during the first hearing:
“These proposed changes stemmed from an original request by a Pittsford citizen at the Planning Commission meeting January 5, 2016 to change Route 3 area designated Rural-Commercial back to Commercial as it had been before. The Board determined the request was logical and after much discussion at numerous meetings it was determined this change and the extension of the Commercial designation on Route 7 north to the Brandon line should be proposed. In reviewing these proposed changes, the Board discovered that official maps and recordings of meetings when the Rural-Commercial designation was applied to Route 3 areas from Commercial designation were missing from the Town records. The Board also chose to propose to expand the Industrial zone to include existing quarries and allow space for renewable energy sites, to meet the State’s 90 by 50 mandate. The Board first chose to clean up current zoning regulations. Second, the Board revised, proposed and had the new Pittsford Town Plan approved. Lastly, almost three years after the start of this subject, the Board has completed review and proposes these changes to the regulations and map.”
5. Public Comments
Tammy Hitchcock asked why these changes were made six years ago and then changed when the commercial zones are not fully utilized, when the website’s main drawing point is rural quality and open land. She is concerned that the open land will be threatened. On a separate item, she asked why the Town of Pittsford is not helping local people develop businesses on their own properties, rather than getting businesses like Dollar General. She does not want the Town to look like Route 7 South and noted she does not trust the Planning Commission to maintain the integrity of the Town.
Rick Conway advised some of the properties on Route 3, such as the T & T business and the L.F. Carter building had businesses interested in the properties, but due to the Rural Commercial designation were unable to move there. Mr. Carter and other property owners were not aware that a change had been made and requested it be changed back to Commercial. There has been an update to the Future Land Use map in the Town Plan for the areas to again be Commercial and the changes are now being proposed for the Zoning regulation.
Jeff Biasuzzi provided one case with the T & T building, where the owners had been approached by Tucel Industries to move their business when their property was sold in Brandon. They had determined the T &T building would work for their manufacturing, but due to Zoning’s Table of Use for permitted and conditional or not permitted uses; a building in Rural Commercial does not allow manufacturing. This would have added 11 high paying jobs to the area, however, their timeframe did not allow going through Development Review. Mr. Biasuzzi also advised that Mr. Getcha has been limited by Rural Commercial on the north end of Route 3 and those are two examples of large local companies that have been restricted due to the zoning and this was considered a resolution. As far as a large influx of people to change the rural landscape along Routes 3 and 7, every new business involves Act 250 and is in excess of what the Town can do. David Soulia stated between the last hearing and this one, he has done some research. This would be one side of the argument to keep it the way it has been for the last 50 years and the other side would be someone saying to super development. Mr. Soulia stated the Planning Commission has been trying to recognize peoples’ property rights and strike a balance between the two extremes. Mr. Soulia stated Pittsford has gone through many changes over the centuries as noted in the Pittsford Historical Society. There used to be a blast furnace in Kevin’s back yard that would be a very large pollutant. He stated because of zoning, there are businesses that cannot be done and people are trying to make a living. Things developed because people were trying to make a living. The current proposed changes are putting the Commercial designation back to the way it was before, as it was not done properly; and due to the State’s mandate regarding energy, expanding the Industrial zone to encourage development of solar on the West Creek Road, rather than directly on Route 7. Dave Mills advised that he and David Soulia revised the Future Land Use map, for illustration purposes, to include in the lands that are not available for growth and noted there are maybe 6 areas where there could be development on Routes 3 and 7. Mr. Mills noted in looking at the process, there are 170 housing units in the Village of Pittsford on the zoning map and approximately 1000 on the outskirts. The Rutland Regional Planning Commission (RRPC) and State of Vermont want to encourage those 1000 people to move into the village. Rick Conway noted concern about local businesses as he has seen a decline, siting L. F. Carter going out of business with 20 people losing their jobs.
Mike Getcha, landowner on Route 3, stated businesses are under the umbrella of Act 250 and any business that goes forward will have to be reviewed by Act 250. He noted that he cannot cut any trees down on his property due to Act 250. He would like to grow and expand his business, but the Rural Commercial designation hampers that, as Act 250 looks at the local zoning when making their determinations. There are some things that they would like to do that would help their business, but cannot be done with the current designation. He stated what happened in Rutland will never happen in Pittsford, but the change will enable the property owners to do more things and bring more people to Town.
Ernie Clerihew questioned the comment about moving people into the villages. It was noted that there was an article in the Rutland Herald about the next years of Act 250. Mr. Soulia advised that VGNP.org provides information from Ed Bove on the proposed changes.
Mr. Brutkoski advised that he works for the company that purchased the T & T property and Act 250 required many restrictions so that the property is kept looking good. He stated properties will look good due to Act 250’s restrictions and requirements. He noted the Town was good to work with.
Dave Mills advised there are a few businesses on Routes 7 North and Route 3 that the change would provide them more options. Mr. Brutkoski stated it was a four-year process for this company to find a piece of property and seven of the employees of the company live in Pittsford and are supporting the Town.
Ted Gillian asked Mr. Getcha if there will be fuel storage desired. He reiterated that he would be comfortable with questioning what property owners would prefer in the Table of Uses for Rural Commercial, as he thought that the overwhelming majority of the people will be respectful. He noted concern of people that do not live here. Right now, even with the changes, fuel storage is only allowed in Industrial. Mike Getcha stated they are reviewing fuel storage, plus a couple of other items and noted there is already an empty fuel storage on the property. Mr. Gillen stated if the changes pass, he is not worried about mass development and thought local businesses will benefit from it. It will also open it up to a few potential situations down the line that he is nervous about. Mr. Getcha noted there is no such thing as not doing something respectful due to the agencies that are involved. He stated Omya is in the industrial area, but is ¼ mile from where people go trout fishing and there are fuel tanks on that location with one having a capacity of 750,000 and the other 250,000. He noted the tanks that are built now have many safety features and if they are allowed in Town, it will help businesses grow and help the Town prosper. Mr. Getcha stated the change to a Commercial designation would help.
Rick Conway stated that Mr. Gillen came on board after the Planning Commission had started work on this change and the Planning Commission is moving forward with something that had been discussed previously. Mr. Conway noted there are many restrictions forthcoming regarding fossil fuels.
Mr. Gillen noted that he wants to support family businesses and would go door-to-door to determine what people want to do with their properties and adjust the Table of Uses. Mr. Conway noted there is an issue with property rights. Ernie Clerihew thought it was good to have a lively discussion and present both sides.
Mr. Brutkoski questioned if there is a liability for the Town if the change is not done properly, specifically for his parent’s property. He noted they have a big piece of property that they cannot do anything with now. Dave Mills stated there is missing paperwork, which is a concern of the Planning Commission and is one of the reasons for making the change. Mr. Brutkoski stated this could be a liability and there could potentially be a lawsuit for the Town. Mr. Kupferer noted it would not be an easy lawsuit and would be a monumental task. Mr. Brutkoski was fully in favor of changing the designations back, as they should not have been changed originally.
A motion was made by Mark Winslow and seconded by David Soulia to adjourn the hearing at 7:46PM. The motion passed unanimously.
The Pittsford Planning Commission