Meeting Minutes : Planning Commission Meeting Minutes – 12/3/20 – Draft


Pittsford Planning Commission Meeting

December 3, 2020


Board Members Present: Kevin Blow, Mark Winslow, Rick Conway, Derek Blow, Chuck Charbonneau, Tom Markowski

Board Members Via Zoom: Mark Pape

Others Present: Jeff Biasuzzi, Elizabeth Soulia

Others Present Via Zoom: Leslie Cadwell, Eric Phaneuf


1. Call to order

The meeting was called to order at 7:02PM by Mark Winslow – Chair.


2. Approval of Agenda

A motion was made by Rick Conway and seconded by Kevin Blow to approve the agenda, as amended. The motion passed unanimously.

Addition of Item 4 – Member Status

Addition of Item 6 – Casella Solar Project


3. Approval of Minutes

. October 22, 2020 Meeting

A motion was made by Kevin Blow and seconded by Chuck Charbonneau to approve the minutes of the October 22, 2020 Planning Commission meeting, as amended. The motion passed with one abstention – Tom Markowski.

Under Item 8, paragraph 3, change of sentence to read: Mr. Blow advised it is a switch of language from fluvial erosion to river corridor.


4. Member Status

Mark Winslow reported the Select Board has appointed Mark Pate to the active spot on the Planning Commission due to the resignation of David Soulia. The Planning Commission will miss Mr. Soulia. The Select Board is looking for suggestions for an alternate. Mr. Winslow asked Commission members to bring forth suggestions for an alternate to the next meeting.


5. Public Comments

There was no discussion held.


6. Casella Solar Project

Mark Winslow introduced Leslie Cadwell who is representing the Casella Solar Project on Parker Road. They have provided a presentation to the Select Board. Eric Phaneuf was also present to provide information on the project. Ms. Cadwell noted Joe Casella was not available this evening but met with the Board Chair at the site today and if any other Commission members would like to review the site, Mr. Winslow has the contact information. The land is owned by Doug Casella and there is a 500-kilowatt net metered project proposed with Mr. Phaneuf as the Manager of Business Development. The project is sited in the pit to allow Casella to extract sand or gravel from the pit while the project produces electricity. The area used will be reclaimed and is part of the PUC rule. The parcel is governed by Act 250 and NRB has been contacted to be sure the project is consistent with the conditions. There is a buffer of 50 feet from the property line so there is no visibility to the neighbors. There will be no visibility to adjoining lands and is in an active gravel pit. Mr. Phaneuf advised the project is off Parker Road in an active sand pit and they will continue to extract sand pursuant to the permit. From start to finish the project may be 2 to 2 ½ months. The construction of the array will be installation of eye-beams and panels. Once construction is complete, there will be an annual maintenance and on-calls for any problems. This is a low impact development with no water or noise. Mr. Winslow was invited to view the pit with two Select Board members Alicia Malay and David Mills. Mr. Winslow stated the description is accurate and the proposed project is completely hidden and is one of the best spots for a solar project. It is on the western edge of the pit that they are done with, but they will continue to extract sand and gravel from the eastern side. This is half of the property the Thomas’ had subdivided. Mr. Winslow requested a copy of the 45-day notice and a copy of the map for the Planning Commission members’ review. Ms. Cadwell will send this information to the Committee Chair for distribution to the Committee members. It is the intent to submit the application before the next Planning Commission meeting and they are available to answer any questions the Planning Commission has. Jeff Biasuzzi provided the Commission members the maps and a copy of the cover letter. Mr. Biasuzzi suggested sending future documents on projects to the Zoning Administrator for distribution. Mr. Winslow sent a copy of the Pittsford Energy Plan to Ms. Cadwell. It was noted the Plan includes comments concerning protections and decommissioning funds at the end of the life span. Ms. Cadwell will speak with Mr. Casella and report back to the Planning Commission on these items. Mr. Phaneuf stated this project is behind in the GMP interconnection queue and asked if the Planning Commission is aware of the other projects, as GMP can only advise the size and date, but not the names of other project. There were no other plans noted. Mr. Biasuzzi stated the site plan shows the entire Thomas ownership and though a small detail, suggested making sure the accurate parcel is noted. Mr. Phaneuf stated trees will be removed to reduce shading and the bank on the west side will have to be changed to conform with Act 250. The fence will be 15 feet from the array and the closet clearing is 50 feet from the property line, with 50 feet of trees remaining. Ms. Cadwell stated the issue to be brought back to Mr. Casella would be the funding for decommissioning, but noted decommissioning is a requirement of the PUC. There were no other questions from the Planning Commission. Mr. Winslow stated the only details will be on the decommissioning and how they line up with the Pittsford Planning Commission’s Energy Plan. Mr. Winslow stated there is another solar project that has yet to contact the Planning Commission. Mr. Biasuzzi stated information from NCOR Renewable Energy was received on November 9th. Mr. Biasuzzi stated the Zoning Administrator, Planning Commission and the Select Board are the statutory groups that projects are to send information to. Mr. Winslow advised he will follow-up with the Town Manager on this item.


7. RRPC (Rutland Regional Planning Commission) Report and Minutes

Mark Winslow stated there was no RRPC report available.


8. RRPC Representative Nominations

Mark Winslow advised that Dave Mills is the RRPC representative. Mr. Mills has reported all meetings have been zoom meetings and he has been discouraged with how things are handled. Dave Soulia was the alternate and now that he has resigned from the Commission, Mr. Winslow asked if any Planning Commission member would be interested in representing Pittsford on the RRPC as the alternate. Rick Conway noted the Town definitely needs representation on this Board. Derek Blow will consider this position and advise the Chair at the next meeting. Mr. Winslow stated this would be an alternate position but most of the time both the representative and the alternate attend the meetings.


9. Ashmal Properties/Conway- VT Trans 1R0925 Request for Hearing – Letter Finalize

Mark Winslow advised Derek Blow has drafted a letter concerning this topic for the Planning Commission’s consideration. The draft letter was reviewed by the Planning Commission. Rick Conway stated the first letter was excellent and covered a lot of what was presented. The second draft has some incorrect information on the segments, but the last paragraph was more definitive. Mr. Conway suggested taking the first letter and replacing the last paragraph with the last paragraph of the second letter. Mr. Conway stated the bridge and road realignment is now its own project but had been on the original segment. Mr. Markowski requested some background concerning the Planning Commission’s view of a public safety issue. Chuck Charbonneau stated there is an issue with the elimination of the slipway and having traffic stop. Additionally, when coming down the hill, Oxbow Road will be offset and anyone coming off that road and going up Route 3 will have difficulty. Rick Conway stated they are proposing to make two southbound lanes on the bridge and eliminate the slip lane. Slip lanes are common in Vermont and the crash statistics show zero accidents in the slip lanes. Mr. Conway has been in contact with the lead engineer and the designs are not firm. There have been some issues with what has been presented. The village designation wasn’t considered and there are State statutes regarding historic districts. The green area that is in question was the former location of the bandstand. Mr. Conway stated they had party status with the Act 250 hearings. There was a proposal that showed the bridge replaced and the road not changing. Mr. Conway stated this has always been a village district and the historic district had been indicated in the plans. Mr. Winslow suggested Mr. Blow make the adjustments and send the revised letter to him. Mr. Winslow will distribute to the Planning Commission members for final review.

A motion was made by Kevin Blow and seconded by Chuck Charbonneau to authorize the Planning Commission Chair to sign the amended letter once reviewed by the Planning Commission members with the changes made this evening. The motion passed with one abstention – Rick Conway.

Mr. Winslow reported he has received notification from John Haverstock the Select Board was receptive to the State providing a historic marker for the Pittsford Mills Historic site. The Planning Commission should move forward with the process of putting the material together to go to the Historical Society for approval. The Select Board has sent the Planning Commission information they received from the State concerning the panel. Tom Markowski volunteered to draft the text for distribution to the Historical Society for approval. Jeff Biasuzzi asked if it will be put on public or private land. Rick Conway advised the State currently owns the land on Oxbow Road and the Town owns a certain section. Mr. Biasuzzi stated if it is on the state highway it does not require a permit but would require a permit if on private land.


10. Future Zoning Rules for Service Inaccessible Pittsford Properties – Conway Report from Council

Rick Conway reported that he has contacted the Town’s attorney concerning the information on Page 35 of the zoning rules to discuss Section 1103 that talks about properties that are not served. Mr. Conway noted the previously discussed property did not come before the Planning Commission for a permit, as it was not required. If someone is trying to develop land that did not have the required frontage they would have to come to the Planning Commission to request a 20-foot right of way. If that parcel were developed prior to the adoption of the particular zoning section, it was 15 feet, and they would not need the currently required 20-feet. There was discussion of services to the property and the Town’s attorney noted that the 50-foot right of way was met. Jeff Biasuzzi advised that prior to the statutory widths, 10 feet was usually the width, but the State has now indicated a minimum width of 20 feet. Pittsford’s zoning indicates that it requires 20 feet but also addresses if it is for multiple housing use, which would be 50 feet. Mr. Biasuzzi noted this cost the Grace family a lot of money and they do meet the 50-foot width. The road that leads through Rutland town through the Livak farm originally was the Gordon Hill Road or Lee Road in Pittsford. The E911 people recommended to name it Blueberry Hill and past the Livak farm the Blueberry Hill Extension for continuity for the subdivision. The official consensus was past the Livak farm the road would become the Blueberry Lane Extension (Private), but E911 has not changed this yet. Mr. Conway noted that it is 5.4 miles from the Pittsford fire station to the location and to the Mendon town line is 5.9 miles. The fire stations work under mutual aid according to Ed Keith, with Chittenden covering until Pittsford is toned out. Mr. Conway does not see there would be a problem with the town in the case of fire. Mr. Biasuzzi stated in creating a new property for lots that don’t have public access, the Town has to decide on how to approve a lot under a subdivision if there is not clear legal access. Chuck Charbonneau noted people are concerned with paying taxes in Pittsford and not getting services from Pittsford. Mark Winslow noted if a property meets all zoning regulations, the owner can build at their peril. Mr. Winslow suggested the Planning Commission respond to the Select Board that if a property meets all the zoning regulations, how the property is accessed is on the property owners. Mr. Biasuzzi noted every property like this is different and has to be evaluated on its own. Mr. Conway noted with regard to the regulations, if people want to have a peaceful property, they should be able to do it. Mr. Winslow suggested there is not a lot to be done if structures are built within the zoning rules and it will have to be up to the Select Board with regard to any questions that arise from the property owners. Mr. Conway noted the Select Board should be encouraging growth and try to increase the tax base on properties like this as it is good for the Town. Mr. Winslow will go back to the Select Board to relay the Planning Commissions’ discussion.


11. Other New Business

Rick Conway suggested future requests to the Planning Commission from the Select Board should come in writing for clarification.

Jeff Biasuzzi stated the Town is preparing for discussions for next year’s budget and noted that he has not had any recommendations for changes this year, however, would suggest an increase for legal expenses for the Planning Commission and DRB for next year. Mark Winslow noted that he has already submitted the Planning Commission’s budget.

Mr. Biasuzzi noted the submission for the annual report is due to by January 2nd and he usually provides a paragraph about the zoning activities and the Planning Commission also has the option of submitting a report. Mr. Winslow advised he will submit an annual report for the Planning Commission.

It was questioned what will happen with the Pittsford sign as a result of the road project. Tom Markowski noted the Pittsford sign south of Pittsford will remain.


12. Schedule Date/Agenda for Next Meeting

January 28, 2020 @ 7:00PM – Regular Planning Commission Meeting


13. Adjournment

A motion was made by Kevin Blow and seconded by Rick Conway to adjourn the meeting at 8:28PM. The motion passed unanimously.


Respectfully submitted,

Charlene Bryant
Recording Secretary


Approved by,


The Pittsford Planning Commission