Pittsford Planning Commission Meeting
April 4, 2019
Board Members Present: David Soulia, Kevin Blow, Mark Winslow, Chuck Charbonneau, Ted Gillen
Also in Attendance: Jeff Biasuzzi – Zoning Administrator, Barbara Noyes-Pulling, Tharon Malay, Tammy Hitchcock, Dave Mills
1. Call to order
The meeting was called to order at 7:02PM by Mark Winslow – Acting Chair.
2. Approval of Agenda
A motion was made by Kevin Blow and seconded by Ted Gillen to approve the agenda. The motion passed.
3. Approval of Minute
. February 28, 2019
A motion was made by Chuck Charbonneau and seconded by Kevin Blow to table the approval of the February 28th meeting to the next meeting. The motion passed unanimously.
4. Public Comments
Jeff Biasuzzi reported the adoption of the zoning went well at the Select Board meeting. There was a question of whether a second Select Board hearing was required due to the population of over 2500, but Mr. Biasuzzi did not find that this is a requirement. He is currently researching this item and will email VLCT to confirm. Dave Mills stated there is a difference between adoption of a town plan and zoning. Mr. Biasuzzi will get back that Planning Commission once an answer is obtained. Chuck Charbonneau reported there was a good turnout of Route 3 and Route 7 landowners who were pleased with the changes. Dave Mills suggested when developing the Enhanced Energy Plan, there should be something included about decommissioning. Many companies claim they will put in screening of the projects, but then do not follow through once the project is completed. There could be language added that the screening would be done during the installation of the project, rather than once the project is completed. There has also been issues with maintenance that could be addressed in the language as well. Mark Winslow suggested the potential to bond could be researched as well. Mr. Biasuzzi stated solar panels are not considered impervious surfaces, which can cause issues and is something to consider whether they have a way to safely direct water off the panels. Barbara Noyes-Pulling advised Brandon has a questionnaire for developers that the Planning Commission will provide each developer and Rutland has a checklist of items they are looking for, which are samples that can be considered. Mr. Charbonneau thought a bond is a good idea, as there are issues with companies that could potentially go under. Mr. Winslow stated decommissioning is a large item for discussion.
5. Election of Officers
It was the decision of the Committee to table the appointment of the Chair and Vice-Chair until the next meeting when all members are in attendance.
6. Work on Enhanced Energy Plan
Mark Winslow stated there was a request for the members to review Brandon’s and Rutland’s Energy Plans and requested the Planning Commission members’ thoughts on the plans. Ted Gillen stated screening and maintenance is high on his list. The template that Barbara Noyes-Pulling provided could be expanded upon for solar farms, as location is an important item. Mr. Gillen would like to be sure there is an emphasis on reduction in energy usage and not just promoting energy programs. Efficiency Vermont and other agencies have assistance programs available and can provide workshops and assistance for people to move forward with energy projects. He suggested coming up with a list of programs. Barbara Noyes-Pulling stated this could be included in the action items and one way to coordinate this effort would be to create an Energy Committee to organize these types of events. Tharon Malay thought it would be good to review census data to see what percentage of the Town could potentially qualify for the programs through BROC or other programs. Chuck Charbonneau suggested the information could be placed in a flyer and sent out to the community. Dave Mills stated one thing the Committee had discussed is having a booth at Pittsford Days with information on the various programs available. Tammy Hitchcock stated it is a matter of educating people and keeping it simple. Mr. Mills noted technology is changing and there are likely things that people are not aware of with regard to energy efficiency. Mr. Charbonneau stated in going through the plans and talking with the community, the Committee needs to remember landowner rights. Barbara Noyes-Pulling advised most towns have been specific with town-owned lands or conserved lands, or possibly those in current use and leaving most of the town open to this type of development. Current use does not need to be included and if a landowner wants to get out of current use and do a project; they should be able to do so. Ms. Noyes-Pulling stated Ag lands can be a concern and one can say current use is out, leave it open or go by soil types and focus on prime ag soils to keep development off. Mr. Winslow stated the Committee has to be careful with soil designation, but is a point that needs to be discussed. Mr. Malay thought instead of showing restrictions, the solar potential is more about showing where the prime sites are located. Kevin Blow asked when the map were developed for prime solar sites whether consideration was taken that landowners may want to install solar. Ms. Noyes-Pulling stated the maps only show where there are good locations for solar. Mr. Malay stated it is up to the Town to adjust the maps. Ms. Noyes-Pulling stated the plan could indicate solar projects are site-specific and add language that is specific to sites. Wetlands are in the upper tier of restrictions. Mr. Winslow agreed with Mr. Gillan that efficiency is important and getting information out to the community is important. The Select Board gave the Planning Commission an assignment to build what is right for Pittsford and noted the proposed plan has a lot to go through, with many things that are subjective. The Committee has to make sure that what they are dealing with is fact before presenting a document to the Select Board.
Mr. Winslow requested a discussion of the solar maps that were provided by the State. Kevin Blow stated Rick Conway had noticed an issue with the scale on one of the maps. Barbara Noyes-Pulling advised there are prime locations indicated for solar sites with the top list of known constraints such as river corridors, wetlands, etc. removed. The maps are for guidance and will show where the best and worst places are for solar projects. Ted Gillen asked if there is a list of features that make a property prime solar or secondary solar to understand how the designations were done. Ms. Noyes-Pulling advised that constraints went into the development of the maps to determine if a parcel is either prime or secondary. If there are no constraints from the two lists, it can be prime. There are the State constraints and then the constraints that the Town can develop. Mr. Winslow had concerns with some of the designations. Ted Gillen asked if Steve Shields of the RRPC has files that could provide information on how the current maps were developed and suggested a couple of Planning Commission members could meet with Mr. Shields on how the maps were developed. Ms. Noyes-Pulling stated this is done with all of the towns to assure that the maps will be correct. Mr. Winslow stated Rick Conway had indicated the Planning Commission needs to be sure there is not spot zoning and assure the locations noted as prime are actually correct. Jeff Biasuzzi stated the maps are advisory only and the solar developers have the expertise to determine proper sites and noted there could be a notation on the maps indicating they are for information only. David Soulia stated there was a case in the State where there had been a lawsuit for adverse condemnation and asked if there has been adjudication of that suit. Ms. Noyes-Pulling was not sure if that case has been settled. Mr. Soulia stated this is a key thing to keep in mind. Chuck Charbonneau noted concern that in mapping sites for an Energy Plan, the State could come back with a regulation that those are the only sites for energy projects. Mr. Winslow thought that the hydro and biomass maps indicate there are very few options for hydro and questioned if the mapping is considering the landowner or small-scale projects versus a larger project. Ms. Noyes-Pulling stated most of the maps for hydro show where one might be able to take an older dam back to life. Mr. Winslow thought there would be more opportunity for landowners to drive a small project. Ms. Noyes-Pulling stated this could be added to the plan. Ms. Noyes-Pulling stated the plan is looking more to refurbishing than new projects.
Tharon Malay reported he had met with Ms. Noyes-Pulling and discussed the possibility of meeting twice per month. Mr. Malay suggested the Planning Commission could task the subcommittee with holding an additional meeting in the month and then meet with the Planning Commission during their meeting. Mark Winslow stated the next task is to prioritize what Pittsford needs to focus on. Mr. Malay advised he has researched several efficiency programs and would like to obtain the census. It was noted that the RRPC could assist with that. Mr. Winslow suggested discussing 6 to 10 of the most important items at the next meeting and a review of the entire document. Ms. Noyes-Pulling asked if the Town is considering an enhanced Energy Plan, which she can assist the Planning Commission in developing. Ms. Noyes-Pulling will provide the Planning Commission the checklist, a 14-page document from the State, which would be required for this type of plan. She stated the template is succinct as it has everything that would be needed for the enhanced energy plan. Dave Mills stated the Enhanced Energy Plan is the goal. Mr. Winslow requested Ms. Noyes-Pulling provide this information. Ms. Noyes-Pulling advised the State’s goal is to be 90% renewable by 2050 and the legislature has indicated the towns can develop an Enhanced Energy plan that will give towns more say with future projects. Mr. Winslow stated the Planning Commission will concentrate on solar, which is what the Select Board had indicated. Mr. Mills stated the RRPC plan indicates no industrial wind. Mr. Winslow expressed concern with the Planning Commission developing a document that creates a set of rules for the townspeople to live by. Tammy Hitchcock stated the Plan should be fluid to allow changes due to technology changes. Ms. Noyes-Pulling advised the plan could be changed each time the Town Plan is updated. Mr. Winslow advised the Planning Commission will begin working through the document at the next meeting. Dave Mills will continue to represent the Town as the Regional Planning Commission Representative for the Town. Mr. Mills advised it is his intention is to report to the Select Board and provide information to the Planning Commission if there are items pertinent to the Town. The Enhanced Energy Plan review will be placed on the agenda for the next meeting.
7. Schedule Date/Agenda for Next Meeting
April 25, 2019 – Planning Commission Meeting
A motion was made by David Soulia and seconded by Kevin Blow to adjourn the meeting at 8:25PM. The motion passed unanimously.
The Pittsford Planning Commission