Planning Commission Meeting Minutes
April 25, 2019
Board Members Present: Kevin Blow, Mark Winslow, Chuck Charbonneau, Ted Gillen, Tom Markowski, Rick Conway via phone
Also in Attendance: Jeff Biasuzzi – Zoning Administrator, Barbara Noyes-Pulling, Tharon Malay, Tammy Hitchcock
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 Chuck Charbonneau and seconded by Kevin Blow to approve the agenda. The motion passed unanimously.
3. Approval of Minute
- March 28, 2019
- A motion was made by Kevin Blow and seconded by Ted Gillen to approve the minutes of the March 28, 2019 Planning Commission meeting. The motion passed with two abstentions – Mark Winslow and Chuck Charbonneau.
- April 4, 2019
- A motion was made by Kevin Blow and seconded by Chuck Charbonneau to approve the minutes of the April 4, 2019 Planning Commission meeting. The motion passed with one abstention – Rick Conway.
4. Public Comments
There was no discussion held.
5. Election of Officers
A motion was made by Chuck Charbonneau and seconded by Tom Markowski to table the election of officers to a subsequent meeting when all Planning Commission members are present. The motion passed unanimously. .
6. RRPC Report
This item was tabled to a subsequent meeting.
7. Energy Sub-Committee Report
Tammy Hitchcock provided a written report. Tharon Malay advised work was prioritized with reduction of energy consumption the highest priority with everything else following. There are action items that will need to be put in the plan. A review of the 14-page template was completed, as well as a review of Benson and Brandon’s energy plans. Some of the action items did not make sense for Pittsford and a list was developed eliminating some items, which was then presented to the Planning Commission. Mr. Malay advise that a certain number of action items are required for each section for the plan to be approved. Some wording was changed to make it what they feel Pittsford could achieve. Work on the maps will be required for the maps to make sense for Pittsford.
Chuck Charbonneau noted this is exactly what the Planning Commission was looking for. Mr. Charbonneau asked if minutes of the Sub-Committee meetings are done, as it would be helpful to post them on the Town’s website to assure that they get credit for the work that they have done. Mark Winslow suggested the outline provided could be submitted as the Sub-Committee’s minutes.
Jeff Biasuzzi noted the subcommittee does not need to follow the same open meeting laws as the standard committees. Mr. Biasuzzi advised regarding the hearings, the Planning Commission and Select Board only need to have one hearing each. Rick Conway noted the Select Board held two hearings on the recent zoning changes as the Town’s attorney thought that it would be good to hold two. The zoning document will need the new official zoning map that reflects the changes, which he has been in contact with Steve Shields of the RRPC concerning. Mark Winslow confirmed the zoning changes are currently in effect. Jeff Biasuzzi has also been in contact with Steve Shields about the maps. Mr. Conway suggested the zoning document the Town is now handing out should show the changes with no rural commercial, with the Zoning Administrator going by those changes that were made on March 20th. Steve Shields has indicated he should have the map completed by the end of the week and will have copies made. Mr. Winslow advised Dave Soulia has indicated he will finish the document.
8. Work on Enhanced Energy Plan
Mark Winslow advised the Planning Commission would be doing a review of the Energy Planning Standards for Municipal Plans that had been previously distributed to the Planning Commission members. Barbara Noyes-Pulling stated everything that the Planning Commission would need is in the draft plan she provided. Ms. Noyes-Pulling suggested going through the draft, rather than the Standards document. Kevin Blow expressed concern with some of the items that are required to be in the Town Plan that the townspeople did not want, such as the wildlife corridor. Mr. Winslow questioned whether the Town Plan must be amended with adding an energy plan. Ms. Noyes-Pulling advised the energy plan becomes a part of the town plan and it can be a stand-alone plan. She noted the purpose of the energy plan is to provide the Town more say if a project is being proposed in the Town that they may have objections to, and it also provides information on where the Town would like to see the energy projects. The bigger picture is that towns were indicating they did not get enough say at the PUC level, and the legislature passed a law that they will give the towns more say, but an enhanced energy plan will be required. Rick Conway noted there was discussion whether it can be a stand-alone plan and statute indicates it cannot be stand-alone. When rewriting the town plan, the Planning Commission had specific questions about the energy plan, and it was decided not to go forward with this. Now that the RRPC has an energy plan, all projects would be submitted to the RRPC for approval and the Town has two representatives, Dave Mills and David Soulia, on that Board.
Chuck Charbonneau stated this is not just an amendment; it is something that the Planning Commission would need to receive input from the community on. Rick Conway stated there is an RRPC plan that is weighing in on solar projects and the Planning Commission needs to talk to Gary Kupferer about this plan. He noted the Planning Commission also needs to obtain input from the public and the Select Board. Barbara Noyes-Pulling advised that Dave Mills asked her to attend the meeting to get the process started. Ms. Noyes-Pulling stated if Pittsford comes up with an enhanced energy plan, she will assure the plan will be approved by the RRPC. Ms. Noyes-Pulling advised the Planning Commission will need to come up with action items and some preferred project sites. Mr. Charbonneau would like to invite a solar developer that he is familiar with to attend a future Planning Commission meeting to discuss this topic. Ms. Noyes-Pulling stated some towns choose specific sites and others pick areas for suggested project sites. She noted the Planning Commission would have to go through the town plan process. Since the last renewal, there is a new law that passed concerning wildlife and wildlife corridors. She stated there are two options; the Planning Commission can open the new plan to include the wildlife corridor or just amend the Town Plan’s Energy section. Either way, it must go through the process of holding both a Planning Commission and Select Board hearing. The State has developed the checklist and when going for approval, all areas must be covered. Rick Conway stated the way he interprets the checklist is if a “no” is checked, the plan will not be approved. Mr. Conway thought the Town’s attorney should be consulted as he is not sure the Select Board is aware of what is going on. Mr. Conway would also like public input, and he would like to have a discussion with Dave Mills concerning what the RRPC was going to put in for Pittsford. The Planning Commission had decided to leave it up to the RRPC for projects as they weigh in on them. Ms. Noyes-Pulling advised the checklist came out early in the process, but because the RRPC can now approve municipal energy plans, the local towns’ planning commissions do not have to go through this. She has already placed everything that is needed in the draft energy plan for the Town. The Planning Commission can go through the draft plan and possibly change language to suit Pittsford. Tharon Malay stated the proposed list the subcommittee provided was a result of going through checklist. Ms. Noyes-Pulling advised the RRPC uses the checklist when reviewing a town’s proposed energy plan. There were concerns with specific questions outlined in the checklist. Mr. Charbonneau stated the Planning Commission is representing the Town and when going to the RRPC for a plan approval, he would like to know the checklist. Ms. Noyes-Pulling advised she chairs the RRPC committee that review the plans for approval. She noted that Benson and Sudbury have passed enhanced energy plans that had to go through the Department of Public Service and were able to word items so that they met the criteria. Tom Markowski sees an issue if the Town is too vague, as to how it will be interpreted when it is renewed with the envelope potentially pushed even more. Ted Gillen suggested the Planning Commission will want to understand the checklist and identify the sections the Town might have concerns with, and once identified, take them to the Select Board or work on them to develop language suitable for the Town. Mr. Conway stated it needs to be considered whether the plan is realistic and whether the actions can be done and suggested the Pittsford Planning Commission needs to review the RRPC’s energy plan. Ms. Noyes-Pulling stated the RRPC level is not telling towns what to do. Mr. Winslow noted concern with Item 8 of the checklist relating to a statement of policy on patterns and densities of land use, noting the idea of pushing everyone to the village is a problem, particularly with sewer. Mr. Conway also noted the document is obviously old and questioned if there has been a guidance document issued, as noted in Item 6 of the checklist. Ms. Noyes-Pulling advised the DPS provided a guidance document in 2017 and the RPC’s around the State have created best practices around developing energy plans. She stated the DPS guidance is more in the weeds. Mr. Winslow requested Ms. Noyes-Pulling provide the Planning Commission a copy of the DPS document. Ms. Noyes-Pulling advised the Planning Commission can create the energy plan the easy way or the hard way and noted the proposed draft could be reviewed and tailored to meet Pittsford’s needs. She stated the townspeople will likely want to talk about the modeling. She noted the Department of Public Service has already done all the guidance documents and the legislature passed legislation for the DPS to come up with the standards and Vermont law indicates the state will be 90% renewable by 2050. Tharon Malay stated the way he understood it is the draft energy plan meets all the 14-point checklist and the subcommittee went through and removed many things and changed some terminology. Even though the terminology was changed, it still meets the criteria. It was noted the Planning Commission is hesitant to move forward with a document that is morphed into something smaller. Mr. Winslow stated there is a lot of information that needs to be considered and it is important for the Planning Commission to understand it. Mr. Winslow asked if the Commission would like him to clarify what the Select Board would like the Commission to do; whether they want the Town Plan to be amended and if they would prefer the Planning Commission review what the subcommittee has provided or whether they want the Planning Commission to dive further into it. Mr. Conway stated the impetus of this came from the Select Board and the document needs to be in a written format. Mr. Conway thought the Town’s attorney needs to be consulted, as this will be going back to some of the things that have already been changed. Mr. Conway strongly suggested getting Mr. Kupferer’s input, with the Committee then deciding what direction to go.
Mark Winslow will advise the Town Manager that he will be having a discussion with the Town’s attorney on this subject and to obtain the Select Board’s direction. Rick Conway did not think the Select Board knows what was going to be involved in this process.
Motion by Tom Markowski and seconded by Rick Conway to direct the Acting Chair to contact the Town’s attorney to attend the next meeting to determine what legally needs to be done on the energy plan before going to the Select Board.
Chuck Charbonneau clarified that Mr. Winslow will ask Mr. Kupferer whether it is acceptable to go the short way for developing the plan or whether the checklist needs to be concentrated on. Mr. Charbonneau noted concern with what the residents of Pittsford want. Ted Gillen stated the Planning Commission does not know what to ask the attorney and suggested that perhaps going to the Select Board first would be better. The Select Board has likely had conversations with the legislators and with Mr. Mills being on the RRPC Energy Committee, he would be versed in this matter. Mark Winslow thought clarification from the Select Board would be the quickest way to go. Mr. Conway sited the statute for the energy plans and noted he would provide the draft to Mr. Kupferer.
The motion passed unanimously.
Jeff Biasuzzi provided the Planning Commission information on an application that was submitted for a 3-lot subdivision of the Gagnon property for their review. There is a proposal to separate the sawmill from the private residences. Because it is three lots, Article 10 states the Planning Commission is required to do a site plan review. This should be on the agenda for the next regular meeting. The statutory information is referenced in the application and the applicant has requested some waivers that Mr. Biasuzzi thinks are reasonable. Mr. Biasuzzi has reviewed the information for setbacks that appear to be compliant. According to the zoning regulations, it requires a public notice 15 days prior to the meeting. Mark Winslow asked all the members to review the information prior to the next meeting and if there are any questions to contact the Zoning Administrator.
Rick Conway advised the website still has Dave Mills as the Chairperson of the Planning Commission and suggested that be changed, as well as adding the new Zoning document.
9. Schedule Date/Agenda for Next Meeting
May 23, 2019 – Planning Commission Meeting
A motion was made by Kevin Blow and seconded by Chuck Charbonneau to adjourn the meeting at 8:19PM. The motion passed unanimously.
The Pittsford Planning Commission