Pittsford Planning Commission Meeting
January 28, 2021
Board Members Present: Mark Winslow, Rick Conway, Chuck Charbonneau, Robb Spensely
Board Members Via Zoom: Mark Pape, Kevin Blow, Tom Markowski
Others Present: Elizabeth Soulia, Lloyd Gaudreau, Donna Wilson
Others Present Via Zoom: Jeff Biasuzzi, Nancy Gaudreau, Baird Morgan
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 Chuck Charbonneau to approve the agenda. The motion passed unanimously.
Mark Winslow welcomed Robb Spensely; the new Planning Commission Alternate appointed last week by the Select Board. Robb Spensely advised he grew up in Pittsford and both parents taught at Barstow. He attended Clark University and Vermont Law School. He has worked in Boston and was a public defender in Burlington and Rutland and is now a private firm in Pittsford and lives in Pittsford with his wife and three daughters. Mr. Spensely used to be the Grand Juror of Pittsford and liked serving Pittsford. Mr. Spensely is excited and interested to see how he can help in the Planning Commission.
3. Approval of Minutes
. December 3, 2020 Meeting
A motion was made by Chuck Charbonneau and seconded by Rick Conway to approve the minutes of the December 3, 2020 Planning Commission meeting as amended. The motion passed unanimously.
Under Item 4 – Member Status – correction to the spelling of Mark Pape’s name.
Kevin Blow suggested using the first names of Kevin and Derek Blow to avoid confusion. Mr. Blow noted under Item 9 (5th sentence from the bottom), Mr. Blow refers to Derek Blow.
4. Public Comments
There was no discussion held.
5. Actions from Last Meeting
Mark Winslow reported that the directive to respond to Selectman Mills and John Haverstock was done that included the suggestion that all requests to the Planning Commission from the Select Board be in writing going forward. The Planning Commission has received an advance notice on a solar project for 84 Deer Lane that the Planning Commission will be reviewing. There will be a presentation at next month’s meeting that is an addition to an existing solar farm. The Planning Commission and Zoning Administrator have received a copy of a notice of application for the Corn Hill solar project. Mr. Winslow thanked Mr. Biasuzzi for the email concerning the pros and cons of solar that was done by the gas and oil consortium in Vermont and provides a different outlook. Mr. Winslow encouraged Commission members review the information.
6. Pittsford Village Farm Presentation
Lloyd Gaudreau and Donna Wilson, representatives for the Pittsford Village Farm, were present to provide an update on the project and future plans. Mr. Gaudreau reported the Farm, through the Town, is preparing an application for a Vermont Community Development Planning grant. The grants are available through municipalities and local nonprofits can apply through their towns. John Haverstock has the information and the application requires a letter be provided that states how the project is consistent with the municipal plan. The letter could be from a town official or the chair of the planning commission. It is preferred the letter come from the Pittsford Planning Commission. The application also requires certification from the regional planning commission and a letter has been received from Ed Bove of the RRPC. Mr. Gaudreau provided a copy of the RRPC letter to the Commission. It was noted the Pittsford Village Farm is a non-profit organization and is included in the Town Plan and is in National Historic Registry. The Farm has a community plan and they are looking to develop uses for the buildings from information received from a community meeting. Donna Wilson, one of the Farm’s volunteers reviewed the Pittsford Village Farm plan with the Commission and advised that it can be viewed on their website: pittsfordvillagefarm.org. She reported they have secured a grant from a Vermont community organization and hired a person to facilitate with the Board to identify community needs and develop goals. Three goals of the Plan are: 1) develop a community gathering place, 2) provide an agricultural hub, and 3) establish retail office space. With the Plan in place, the most urgent need is to restore the farmhouse. It was noted that prior to COVID, the Farm has had community gardens and held ice cream socials and concerts. They have held COVID-safe gatherings to showcase the plans. Mr. Gaudreau stated this is a 20.71 acre farm that has a 5,000 square foot farmhouse and an 8,000 square foot barn and 2 silos. There are 50 volunteers who have donated 500 hours of work. Currently a stain glass artist and an office for a local consultant are renting space in the farmhouse. There is also a natural play scape on the property and there have been a variety of events held. The property is located at the trailhead of the Pittsford trails. The Farm plans to learn what the community needs, obtain a perspective from the youth, hire staff that will be sustainable, maintain a strong relationship with Town and fill the urgent need for early childhood education and senior activities in Town. Ms. Wilson provided an overview of the strategic goals that include the development of an early childhood education center, to strengthen the Board, develop an agricultural hub, and restore the farmhouse. The income scenario will include rent, events, donations, and grants. The expenses would include the cost of events, staffing, a reserve fund, maintenance, property taxes and utilities. The specific details of how to achieve the goals was provided with a timeline. It is anticipated the project cost will be $1.2 million for the grounds and building. Currently the cost of renovating is the same as building a new facility at $200 to $250 per square foot. Mr. Gaudreau advised the farmhouse is 5,000 square feet and another 1,000 square feet in the basement and it is thought that $1.2 million will be the minimum cost of the project.
Mark Winslow asked if this would require special zoning permits. It was reported the Zoning Board has reviewed the site but the childcare facility still has to be done. They are not ready to apply for permits at the State level, but additional permits will be required. The childcare center will be from birth to 3 years old and will be educational and not just childcare. It was noted infant care is urgent in the State and the Farm had previously been contacted by Kids on the Move to see if there could be something done and are eager for the building renovation. Mr. Winslow asked if the childcare facility is planned for the basement. It was noted the center will be housed in the basement level as it is a direct access to the outdoors. Mr. Gaudreau advised the foundation is negligible and that will have to be jacked up and a complete renovation with new walls done. The community center will be on the first floor and will focus on senior activities as that is a big need in Town. Mr. Winslow asked if there will be other zoning applications required for the various activities as it was an agricultural property. It was noted that discussions have been held with the Zoning Board and that has to be worked out, as well as the early childhood activities. Rick Conway asked how many seniors would be able to be in the center and it was reported the center will be designed for 50 people. The childcare center will start small with about 12 children – 4 infants and 8 toddlers. Mr. Gaudreau reiterated the proposed uses for the Farm will be the early childhood center, a community center and retail offices. The Farm has been working with an architect and the plans were reviewed with the Commission. The main entrance will be on the south side of the farmhouse and will be ADA accessible. There will also be a community kitchen in addition to the retail space and community center on the first floor. On the second floor, there will be office spaces and this will be the last space completed with the ground floor and first floor completed first. There are 40 parking spaces developed behind the barn and a few ADA spaces near the farmhouse. The project includes 3 phases of construction with phase 1 doing all foundation work and resurrecting the ground floor space. The 2nd phase is to strip and do all the rough plumbing on all floors and the 3rd phase is to do the finish work for all three floors. The project will be broken up into phases to make is easier to apply for grants. It is anticipated the project will take a while. The Farm is applying for the Vermont Community Development grant that would be used for the development of architectural and electrical plans for construction, for doing civil engineering for the roadwork, parking, and drainage and to do the studies required that will include archeology and historic, and to hire early childhood consultants. The deadline for the grant application is April 1st with a maximum grant of $60,000 that has a matching requirement of $7,500 that will be paid by the Farm. The Town would administer the grant and any town administration costs would be paid by the grant. It was a consensus of the Planning Commission that this is a good idea. Robb Spensely advised that he may become a member of the Pittsford Village Board. Kevin Blow asked who will pay the taxes if the property value increases. It was noted that the grant money will be used to get the restoration work done and once the farmhouse is completed, it is the intent to be self-sustaining with monies received from various activities that will include the childcare center and retail space.
A motion was made by Rick Conway and seconded by Chuck Charbonneau to authorize the Planning Commission Chair prepare a letter regarding the Pittsford Village Farm project advising it is consistent with the Town Plan. The motion passed unanimously.
Click here to view the farm presentation.
7. RRPC (Rutland Regional Planning Commission) Representative Nominations
Mark Winslow reported that David Mills will remain as Pittsford’s representative to the RRPC, but an alternate is also needed. Mr. Mills will be attending the majority of the RRPC meetings, but an alternate is needed for the meetings when Mr. Mills will be unavailable. Mr. Winslow stated any Planning Commission member interested in the alternate position could advise Mr. Haverstock, otherwise the vacancy will be advertised. Chuck Charbonneau requested an update on the RRPC. Mr. Winslow advised that Mr. Mills has reported the virtual meetings are unproductive due to the platform that is used for the meetings, noting that in-person meetings had been much more productive.
8. Other/New Business
Jeff Biasuzzi anticipates a minor subdivision application to be received that would have to be handled by the Planning Commission because the property is accessed by a private right of way and under the regulations, the Planning Commission has to approve right of way accesses. He noted it will be straightforward and will be on next month’s agenda. Mr. Biasuzzi stated this is the hiatus of permit season and he is doing more enforcement related issues, but nothing in terms of projects. Mr. Biasuzzi will deliver information to Mr. Spensely tomorrow. Tom Markowski reported he has not progressed on the historic marker but has started it and will work on it next month. Rick Conway volunteered to assist Mr. Markowski on this project. Mark Winslow thanked all the members for their work over 2020. The members did a very good job during the year and represented the residents of Pittsford fairly. Rick Conway also thanked the Commission and Commission Chair for the letter on the status for the bridge improvements.
9. Schedule Date/Agenda for Next Meeting
February 25, 2021 @ 7:00PM – Regular Planning Commission Meeting
A motion was made by Rick Conway and seconded by Chuck Charbonneau to adjourn the meeting at 7:51PM. The motion passed unanimously.
The Pittsford Planning Commission