Pittsford Planning Commission
Orin Thomas & Sons, Inc. Sub-Division Hearing
January 23, 2020
Board Members Present: Kevin Blow, Mark Winslow, David Soulia, Rick Conway, Chuck Charbonneau, Tom Markowski
Also in Attendance: Jeff Biasuzzi – Zoning Administrator, Richard Thomas, Ralph Meima, Martha Parker, Bill Parker, Rachael Giddings, Robert Giddings, Steven O’Neill, Petra O’Neill
The hearing was opened at 7:01PM
Mark Winslow read the warning relative to the hearing. Members of the Planning Commission introduced themselves. Mr. Winslow also reviewed the hearing rules of participation and noted the proceedings will be conducted in an orderly manner. Mr. Winslow requested disclosure of any conflicts by the Board; there were none noted. Mr. Winslow then reviewed the definition of interested person, noting pursuant to VSA 4471a only an interested person may take appeal of any decision. All interested parties who wished to speak signed in and were sworn in by the Chairman of the Planning Commission.
The Planning Commission accepted written information from the Zoning Administrator. Jeff Biasuzzi stated the property owners, Orin Thomas and Sons, Inc. wish to take a 75-acre property and cut it into two lots. The reason for the hearing is that part of the access involves coming through Parcel “a” by a legal right of way to Parcel “b”. The Planning Commission needs to determine if this conforms to the Zoning Regulations. The Parcel “a” is in the Rural zone that requires 100 feet of frontage. Parcel “b” is in the Conservation I district. Article 4 of Zoning Regulations requires 200 feet of frontage and the Planning Commission has to pay attention to the request as the lots have to conform to the rules. The Planning Commission is empowered to authorize an access by a right of way when there isn’t road frontage. Parcel “b” will have 88 feet of frontage on Sagamon and additional access on Parker Road. There are no structures on the propery and no requests for structures. Rick Conway asked when the original lot was created, and the Zoning Administrator advised there was a survey of the property in 1975 and is part of the Parker survey map.
Rick Conway asked how much frontage was on Parker Road for Parcel “a” and it was noted that there is 280 feet of frontage. Mr. Conway asked the applicant when the parcel was created, and Mr. Thomas advised it was 1905. Mr. Conway advised he sits on both the Zoning Board and the Planning Commission and the Zoning Administrator had indicated that his decision would be what is brought before them. Mr. Conway noted concern that the Zoning Administrator’s letter to the applicant indicates the 55-foot right of way and 88 feet of frontage does not satisfy the required road frontage, however, Section 1103: Required Frontage taken from the Table of Use reads at least a 20-foot-wide right of way. The Town also no longer has Rural Commercial and Section 1103 is the new version dated April 2019. At the previous meeting, there were no proposed uses indicated and the Zoning Administrator confirmed there were no new proposed uses. Mr. Conway concluded that if the lot existed prior to the new Zoning Regulations, it is a preexisting nonconforming use. Mr. Conway questioned if there is access from Sagamon Road and it was confirmed there is an existing access to Parcel “b. Mr. Conway noted after reviewing this due to misinformation, Parcel “b” is in the Conservation district and it clearly has enough acreage and Parcel “a” has no frontage issue and he did not see where there is an issue of why he has to have a right of way. If Mr. Thomas wants a dividing line, but no proposed use, Mr. Conway did not think the Planning Commission has the authority to make him issue a right of way as he has access to the property. Mr. Biasuzzi advised it is a 75-acre Parcel of property and Mr. Thomas would like to make a subdivision. He is creating two lots from one, and the new lots have to conform to the Zoning Regulations. Parcel “a” is in the Rural zone and has 280 feet of frontage and is a conforming lot. Parcel “b” only has 88 feet of frontage on public road and the applicant is asking for access by a right of way through Parcel “a”. Mr. Thomas is creating an easement and he has frontage on the 75 acres. There are three points of access on the 75 acres, not on two parcels of land. Mr. Conway stated lots in existence may not have the required frontage because they were prior to the Zoning and he does not have a problem with subdividing. Mr. Conway questioned why it was indicated a 50-foot easement was required instead of 20 feet. Mr. Conway noted Mr. Thomas can subdivide it as he has a preexisting access and the Town could not restrict his access. Mr. Conway noted if one is trying to piece off a property, the lot would have to be at least an acre. Mr. Conway thought this is an unreasonable burden on the landowner. Mr. Biasuzzi stated under Section 1103, unless stated in this section, land development is permitted only on lots with adequate road frontage as specified in Article 4. The Planning Commission can approve the lot if they determine the lot has a boundary line appropriate or if there is access to a public road or public waters with an easement. The request is to create a new free-standing lot that does not have 200 feet of road frontage. It has road frontage, but there is a request to access the lot to the other road. Mr. Conway stated Parcel “b” can be accessed from Sagamon Road. Mr. Biasuzzi noted that Article 4 indicates there should be minimum acreage, setbacks and road frontage. The Planning Commission has the authority to amend the road frontage requirement by approving a permanent easement or right of way. Mr. Conway asked Mr. Thomas if the 50-foot right of way was applied for. Mr. Thomas advised that they would like to access Parcel “b” from two ways as it is steep in places and it would be good to have access from both Parker Road and Sagamon Road.
Mark Winslow questioned if Mr. Thomas had any further comments and he noted there were no further comments at this time. It was noted that the design of the right to way access would have to be approved by the Select Board.
Mark Winslow questioned if any interested parties had comments. Steven O’Neill, 498 Parker Road was concerned with the water line that comes from a spring and is gravity fed and deeded to four properties; Red and Mary Parker, Bob Parker, Bill Parker and the O’Neill’s. There is a concern where the proposed easement would be, as Mr. O’Neill did not see the spring marked on the map but is mentioned in his deed. Mr. O’Neill read the portion of his deed regarding the spring and easement. Mr. Thomas was not aware of where the spring is located. Bill Parker advised the spring is located on the old Parker farm that is 75 or 80 feet from the line and runs diagonal through the farmland. He noted they replaced the line from the O’Neill’s to Bob Parker’s property and got permission from the Thomas’ to dig, but the pipe is not on Thomas’ land. The pipe is on the other side of fence and is not on their land. Mr. Parker provided a marking on the map of where the line for the spring is located. They requested permission from the Thomas family because there was not room to operate the backhoe to replace the line. Mr. Winslow clarified that neither the spring nor the line are on the Thomas’ property, Mr. O’Neill asked what the plans are for Parcel “b”. Martha Parker stated if there is digging done to create the easement, she is concerned with what might happen with the spring. Mr. O’Neill asked how far a road would be from his house and asked why there is an easement needed for the Thomas’ property when they own both parcels. Mr. Thomas advised they are planning to keep Parcel “a” and want to keep a second access to Parcel “b”, but there are no current plans for Parcel “b” at this time. Ms. Parker asked where the right of way is and questioned how wide the road would be. It was noted there is no road being proposed at this time. Petra O’Neill asked for clarity on the language, as easement, right of way and access seem interchangeable and requested how that works. Mr. Biasuzzi stated a right of way or easement provides a form of access, but the legal definition may be access. What is being proposed is a use of a strip of land from Parker Road along the north boundary of Parcel “a” to provide an access to get to Parcel “b”. An easement or right of way are commonly interchanged and they may have some legal definitions, but the point is to provide public access through another piece of land. Mr. Thomas stated there was once a logging road on the property. Ms. O’Neill suggested if a road was going to be put in, the owners discuss the water line, due to the line being close to the property boundary. Mr. Biasuzzi noted the spring line and the spring are not on the 75-acre parcel and suggested getting together with Mr. Thomas to mark the line and place some signs up that indicate the line to protect the line. Mr. Winslow reiterated the spring is not on the Thomas parcel and it was noted that the line is buried deep. Mr. Winslow stated if there is a permanent driveway put in, it would have to go before the Select Board for approval. Mr. Conway stated it appears the access easement is only on Parcel “a” that is in the Rural zone on Parker Road.
Mr. Conway suggested there could be conditions included to be more definitive of where the right of way could be to avoid an issue with the water line. It was noted that the property widens from the road and the easement would not be near the boundary. Martha Parker noted that the Thomas’ have been great neighbors and have owned the land for years and she appreciates how they look out for all of the neighbors.
A motion was made by David Soulia and seconded by Kevin Blow to close the public comments. The motion passed unanimously.
David Soulia stated the application looks straight forward. Rick Conway stated there was confusion in the beginning, but he is okay with the request. He noted there has been enough testimony of where the water line is as long as Petra O’Neill’s concern is satisfied with the easement. Mr. Conway suggested following the line of where the easement will be created. Mr. Biasuzzi proposed an easement of undefined width, as 50 feet was discussed but it has not been described in the proposed deed. Chuck Charbonneau suggested when the road goes in, they need to protect the water line the best possible way.
A motion was made by David Soulia and seconded by Tom Markowski to accept the application as presented. The motion passed unanimously
A motion was made by David Soulia and seconded by Kevin Blow to close the hearing at 7:54PM. The motion passed unanimously.
The Pittsford Planning Commission