Pittsford Planning Commission Meeting
October 22, 2020
Board Members Present: Kevin Blow, Mark Winslow, Rick Conway, Mark Pape, Derek Blow, Chuck Charbonneau
Others Present: Jeff Biasuzzi, Dave Mills
1. Call to order
The meeting was called to order at 7:03PM by Mark Winslow – Chair.
2. Approval of Agenda
A motion was made by Derek Blow and seconded by Rick Conway to approve the agenda, as amended. The motion passed unanimously.
Swap Item 6 and 7 in the meeting agenda.
3. Approval of Minutes
. September 24, 2020 Meeting
A motion was made by Kevin Blow and seconded by Derek Blow to approve the minutes of the August 27, 2020 Planning Commission meeting. The motion passed with one abstention – Chuck Charbonneau.
4. Public Comments
There was no discussion held.
5. RRPC (Rutland Regional Planning Commission) Report and Minutes
Dave Mills reported the RRPC is meeting virtually, but the meeting platform is difficult to use. He is on the Regional committee and there has been discussion of many small solar projects going in throughout the county. In the main meeting, Bill S237 that has to do with zoning is being discussed and noted the Planning Commission may want to review this bill as it has some changes that will affect the zoning the Town can’t do anymore. Most every meeting also has a presentation with the most recent one on broadband relating to an effort to get high speed internet throughout the county. The meeting prior to that one, Mr. Mills did not attend the main meeting due to difficulties with the platform. He requested at the last meeting to start a hybrid meeting so that some people can attend the meeting in person. Ed Bove had indicated that perhaps this can possibly be done after the first of the year. At the last meeting, there was a quorum, however the previous meeting, people were losing connection and there was a question of whether there had been a quorum or not.
Mark Winslow questioned whether the new platform the Town has for virtual meetings could be used for the Planning Commission meetings. Jeff Biasuzzi stated the equipment would need to be set up for the meetings and will send Mr. Winslow the information to allow for this option to be available for the Planning Commission meetings. Mr. Winslow will also speak with John Haverstock about the possibility of having this option available as the maximum capacity in the room is currently 10 people.
Kevin Blow asked about details of the S237 Bill. It was noted this is a Senate bill that has been passed and Mr. Mills suggested the Planning Commission should look into it. Mr. Biasuzzi stated this did not get to the Governor’s desk. The Bill has details about imposing restrictions, however, anything that is already in place is grandfathered and it takes in the wildlife corridor that many think oversteps property owners’ rights. This Bill will be in the next session, as well as the Act 250 Bill. Mr. Biasuzzi stated the legislative report that he forwarded to the Planning Commission provides information on how to log in to keep up to date on legislation.
7. Future Zoning Rules for Service Inaccessible Pittsford Properties
Selectman Mills was present on behalf of the Select Board to discuss zoning rules for service to inaccessible Pittsford properties. Mr. Mills sited an example of a property near Hubbardton that cannot be serviced by Pittsford emergency services. He also noted a property on Blueberry Lane that was a previously completed subdivision that is only accessible through Rutland Town, which would require Fire, Police and Rescue to go into Rutland Town and back to Pittsford. The Select Board is asking the Planning Commission to consider for future subdivisions, if the property is not accessible in the Town of Pittsford, there be something indicating services would be obtained through the adjoining town. Rick Conway asked if there is an issue that the emergency services have to travel outside of Town and what is the furthest point the emergency services have to travel. It was noted that Pittsford services East Pittsford which adjoins Mendon. Chuck Charbonneau stated Pittsford Fire Department provides mutual aid and travels to Salisbury, Leicester, Whiting and Brandon and did not think this is something that should be an issue. Derek Blow stated it could be possible the adjoining town’s services might be equally or further than Pittsford’s emergency services. Mark Winslow stated the property on Blueberry Lane is privately maintained and noted servicing these types of roads could cost the Town money to upgrade for services. Mr. Conway asked if this recommendation would be legal. He noted if the properties are in high-altitude areas, upland conservation could be a conditional use and have to go through the criteria. Mr. Mills stated this suggestion is for future reference to avoid these situations. Mr. Conway suggested the Planning Commission look into the legality of this, look at the potential development and get input regarding a property that is in the Upland Conservation District. Derek Blow asked if it would be the Planning Commission’s responsibility for approval if a developer would share the burden to make sure there is access, such as building the access road bigger or wider. Mr. Conway stated people have had land in these types of areas in Pittsford and people’s property rights have to be respected. Mr. Winslow noted the Select Board is asking the Planning Commission to review these types of situations to make sure we have things in place and subdivisions may need to be dove-tailed this. Mr. Conway noted the Planning Commission used to go through site plan reviews for municipal services.
Jeff Biasuzzi advised the Blueberry Lane property is one of a five-lot subdivision and the developer is starting to sell lots. This is the first substantial build and when going for a 911 number, the 911 Division indicated that they need to get the road name changed to Blueberry Lane Extension so that responders would know it comes from Blueberry Lane. The abutting neighbors have indicated there is no objection and the developer has asked the Select Boards in Rutland Town and Pittsford if they can change the name of the road. Mr. Biasuzzi noted development can be regulated in these locations and there can be conditional review placed in the site plans. One has to have a legal access for at least a 20-foot right of way. There could also be regulations for ridgeline development.
Mark Pape asked if the Planning Commission’s task is to review future requests in light of emergency service accesses. Mr. Mills stated the request is for the Planning Commission to determine if there could be a provision when doing a subdivision and the only access is from another town, to request the owner secure the services from the town that they have access from. Mr. Conway stated it would require an amendment to the zoning, which would require criteria to follow. Mr. Winslow noted currently the Select Board is only asking the Planning Commission to review these situations to try to alleviate this for the future. Mr. Biasuzzi advised there could be a stand-alone subdivision regulation with minimum standards that would comply with the State, or there could be a change incorporated into the zoning. Mr. Winslow stated this will be a good thing to review to be sure that everything is in line. Mr. Conway would like to check with Attorney Kupfer to advise the direction the Planning Commission could go legally before spending a lot of time on this subject, as he thought it might border on spot zoning. Mr. Winslow thought it important to review and have specific questions for the attorney. Mr. Conway noted he would pose the question to the attorney regarding properties that can’t be accessed from Pittsford and what can be done so that these projects do not put unnecessary impacts on the Town’s emergency services and if the zoning needs to be amended, the Planning Commission could move forward on that.
A motion as made by Kevin Blow and seconded by Derek Blow to authorize Rick Conway to contact the Town’s attorney to clarify the question concerning zoning rules for service to inaccessible Pittsford properties. The motion passed with one no vote – Mark Winslow.
Mr. Conway will contact Mr. Kupfer and report back to the Planning Commission concerning this item.
6. Ashmal Properties/Conway- VT Trans 1R0925 Request for Hearing
Mark Winslow noted the Planning Commission has standing on this item and opened the floor to discussion of whether the Commission would like to take a position and submit a statement. Rick Conway noted he would recuse himself from any actions taken on this item.
Mr. Conway stated this is an Act 250 application and he was looking for direction from the Town. There are many issues that do not conform with the Town Plan. The District Commission will issue a decision and the Planning Commission has party status in this process. Mr. Conway will be attending the Act 250 hearing and was asking the Town to weigh in on this subject on his behalf. The Town Plan talks about the character of the Town and his position is that having two lanes of southbound traffic at the bridge and eliminating the slip lane to Proctor is not in character with Vermont. The plan is to also add guardrails that is not consistent with the original plan and would be an impact on his business, and he does not think it complies with the Town Plan. The project is not consistent with the Village Designation and there are criteria the State has to follow. Mr. Conway noted the Town Plan has information about the village character that he has outlined and requested a hearing. Mr. Conway does not have an objection to replacing the bridge, but reconfiguring the road is not aesthetically pleasing and traffic on Oxbow Road and Route 3 will have to cross three lanes of traffic. The Village Designation ends at the top of the hill and the Town Plan indicates the support districts would be added to the south of Town. Kevin Blow asked the reason for the guardrails. Mr. Conway stated they like to provide a barrier but noted it will restrict his gas pumps. There were turning movements tried and they did not work. Mr. Conway advised this project plan is different from what was presented at the public meeting. He noted there are a lot of trucks that go through the slip lane and there is also an issue with the elimination of the historic green that is in the Historic District. Mr. Winslow summarized this is not the proposal that was presented at the original meeting held in 2015, it takes away from the historical village aspect, in taking out the island it eliminates the historic town green and it will create a dangerous intersection in the village. Chuck Charbonneau noted the Planning Commission spent a lot of time doing Village District and asked if the Village Designation was taken into consideration. Jeff Biasuzzi asked who owns the village green. Mr. Conway advised the Town maintains the area. Mr. Biasuzzi questioned why there as not a historic marker at the location. Mr. Conway advised that it is in the scoping plans and is a contributing feature of the Historic District. It was noted that a marker should have been in place and Mr. Winslow suggested the Planning Commission request a historic sign be placed at the site.
A motion was made by Kevin Blow and seconded by Derek Blow to request a historic marker be placed at the Pittsford green. The motion passed with one abstention – Rick Conway.
Rick Conway noted that he had advised the State that he would pay for a placard for the historic green. Jeff Biasuzzi suggested increasing the island to what the historic district was. Mark Winslow will speak to the Town Manager concerning this request.
Mr. Wilson stated currently there are four issues that are troubling to the Committee and there are many items that do not adhere to the Town Plan. Chuck Charbonneau noted there are many slip lanes throughout the State and the Town should not lose its historical character.
A motion was made by Derek Blow and seconded by Kevin Blow to create a letter for submission to the Act 250 hearing relative to the above subject as 1) the road design is not conforming to the Town Plan by not preserving the characteristics of the Town, 2) is destroying the historic green, 3) is creating a dangerous traffic flow and 4) is not in line with the original construction plan the State presented at a public meeting in February 2015. The motion passed with one abstention – Rick Conway.
A letter will be drafted and distributed to the Planning Commission members for review and approval.
8. Other New Business
Mark Winslow reported the Town Energy Plan was dated and signed off by the Select Board. Jeff Biasuzzi noted when solar developers call to determine what rules the Town has, they will be provided this information. The document will be included on the Town’s website.
Jeff Biasuzzi reported Matt Casey from Dollar General has advised they will be building a store at the corner or Plains Road.
Rick Conway questioned the status of the Hazard Mitigation team. Kevin Blow reported he attended the meeting and will be bringing questions from of the Hazard Mitigation committee to the Select Board. Mr. Conway asked if river corridors are going to be included. Mr. Blow advised it is a switch of language from river corridor to fluvial erosion. Jeff Biasuzzi stated fluvial erosion provides an area that goes beyond the 100-year flood plain limit. The State has anticipated where the river will likely move to and this will be outside the 100-year flood plain. Mr. Conway stated the document indicates it is not a legal binding document and questioned the maneuverability of putting this in the Town regulations and adopting it. He stated when doing the maps, Steve Shields wanted to know if the Town wanted to put in river corridors. Mr. Biasuzzi stated a town’s mitigation plan affects their Emergency Relief Assistance Fund (ERAF) where a town’s out-of-pocket can be reduced to 7.5 %, but FEMA has the option to review the towns’ plans. This may not be binding, but FEMA does not have to grant the funds. Mr. Blow stated there is also flood money from the State of Vermont. Mr. Biasuzzi noted a town has more probability of success if it is in their plan.
Rick Conway requested a copy of the subdivision that had been discussed earlier in the meeting regarding Blueberry Lane.
9. Schedule Date/Agenda for Next Meeting
December 3, 2020 @ 7PM – Special Planning Commission Meeting
A motion was made by Rick Conway and seconded by Kevin Blow to adjourn the meeting at 8:31PM. The motion passed unanimously.
The Pittsford Planning Commission