Town of Pittsford, Vermont

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February 28, 2008


Planning Commission Members Present: Kathryn Brown, Don Nickless, and Thor Konwin (6:51 PM) Selectboard Members Present: Allen Hitchcock, Tom Hooker, Thomas "Hank" Pelkey, and W. Joseph Gagnon.  Others Present: David Rowe, Bruce Payntor, Anita Payntor, Kathleen Ramsay, and Kelly Giard, Recording Secretary.


D. Nickless, Chair, called meeting to order at 6:04 PM


D. Nickless explained the Rutland Regional Planning Commission proposed contract.  The purpose of this contract is to review and assist in the finalization of the Town Plan.  The recommendation is to cap the funding at $6,000.  D. Nickless explained that the RRPC has more resources and information sources than the 3 members currently on the Planning Commission.  The funding for this proposal would come from the grant funds that have already been received.  K. Ramsay stated that this proposal has been placed on the next Selectboard agenda.


D. Nickless asked for recommendations for appointment to the Planning Commission.  D. Nickless expressed that if the applicants have some town background that this would be helpful to the Planning Commission.  J. Gagnon asked if the applications that were received were qualified candidates.  D. Nickless explained the workload of the Committee members and explained that there are training tools available for review and seminars are held periodically.


Town Plan


D. Nickless explained that the Planning Commission has met with various other groups within the town for input in the development of the Town Plan.


Bruce Payntor expressed some concerns of groups/individuals that have had input to this project.  Mr. Payntor expressed some concerns that the process may not be legal.  D. Nickless explained that the process is followed and meets the legal requirements of the State of Vermont.  D. Nickless explained to Mr. Payntor that there would be a general public meeting regarding the Town Plan and that all meetings of the Planning Commission are open to the public.  Also, the Select board will hold public meetings once the Plan is approved by the Planning Commission.


D. Nickless asked the Selectboard for their input of the good qualities of the town. Some examples that were heard from other groups were discussed.  J. Gagnon stated that "Pittsford is a good town" and without OMYA there would be little industry as it is hard to get businesses to come in.  J. Gagnon stated that there should be more employers within the town.  There is a need to "upgrade appeal" and encourage industry to come to town.  There are not a lot of "perfect" places for these businesses to be.


T. Hooker expressed that a small industrial park would attract small businesses and employees from other towns.  T. Hooker stated that the "Santa Fund" helps Pittsford people, as an example for community spirit.  T. Hooker stated that Pittsford is a caring community and when "times are tough" and "people are down" that the community comes together.


D. Nickless continued by asking for input of the bad qualities of the town.  A. Hitchcock stated that Pittsford is a "modest town" and would like to "keep it that way."  Pittsford has little influence on problems such as abandoned houses.  The Trash Ordinance has no equivalent for housing.  Mr. Hitchcock stated that this is a serious and growing problem that affects the neighbors surrounding these properties.  Mr. Hitchcock explained that any businesses or industry look at the community as a whole and these deteriorating properties discourage business.  There was discussion regarding the enforcement of these complaints.  Some of these complaints are received unsigned, therefore, there is hesitation to act. 


"J. Gagnon stated that the State is the "Big Boss and the Zoning and Planning Commissions need approval from the state.  D. Nickless stated that some town ordinances may exceed conditions of state ordinances.  There was discussion concerning these ordinances.


D. Nickless asked what were the most significant issues within the town.  The members of the Selectboard agreed that the infrastructure (water, sewer, and bridges) were very significant.  A. Hitchcock stated that the school is also very well run in structure and operation.  The Select board members all agreed to this comment.


Tom Carrara inquired if previous meetings with various groups had been held in the evening.  D. Nickless stated that they have occurred in the evenings.  Mr. Carrara spoke regarding the State Rights vs. the Property Owners Rights.  There are several storefronts that are available within Rutland City and Rutland Town that these communities are having difficulty occupying.  Mr. Carrara expressed concerns that Pittsford needs to find ways to attract businesses to the area.  One suggestion was that a tax holiday for new businesses might influence a businesses decision as to where to locate/relocate.


T. Hooker stated that OMYA is helpful within the community and there are many ways that they assist and support the local community.


Mr. Payntor suggested a public questionnaire be conducted via phone with regard to input to the Town Plan. 


D. Nickless explained that there would be public meeting times set for town plan input and these meetings would be warned and posted.


Another topic of concern was the roadwork.  D. Nickless asked if there were any major roadwork projects in the next 5 years that were planned.  H. Pelkey stated that work on the West Creek Road is scheduled for the 2008 construction season.  There is routine maintenance that occurs yearly.  J. Gagnon expressed that the town highway department could do a little more of the small projects, such as replacing a culvert and such.  J. Gagnon suggested contacting Shawn Erickson, Highway Foreman regarding this topic.  The general feeling was that more projects interfere with regular maintenance. 


T. Carrara inquired the differences between the old Town Plan and the new Town Plan.  D. Nickless explained that there is no plan ready for approval as of yet as input is still being collected at this time.  D. Nickless explained that the Rutland Regional Planning Commission is being consulted to assist with this project as they have more available resources.


J. Gagnon inquired if there would be a way to compare the plans.  D. Nickless explained that this is possible and that the interim plan was reviewed and adjusted prior to being approved by the Selectboard.  D. Nickless explained how the interim Town Plan played a key role in obtaining the Village Designation.  There was discussion regarding the topics that had been removed from the previous plan to submit to the RRPC for their approval.  D. Nickless stated that the Town Plan is intended to reflect the interest of the Town.  The RRPC and the state also must approve the Town Plan.


J. Gagnon asked for the history of the Town Plans.  D. Nickless explained that the Town Plan is required to be updated every 5 years.  J. Gagnon asked how the Zoning is incorporated in the Town Plan.  D. Nickless explained the ways that the Zoning relates to  the Town Plan.  There was discussion following regarding the ZBA and Act 250.


D. Nickless explained that past meetings have raised the concern of the Route 7 upgrade.  The concerns from other groups were discussed.  D. Nickless suggested that the Selectboard may want to aggressively meet with the State Agency of Transportation with these concerns.  H. Pelkey explained that he believes that 2-way traffic is a requirement throughout the construction process.  T. Hooker also stated that the construction must also maintain entrance and exits to properties involved.  There was discussion concerning business disruption with other projects within the state. 


Tom Carrara asked if there are other towns struggling with the development of a Town Plan.  D. Nickless explained that there are other towns "struggling", however, it is a requirement from the State. 


Tom Carrara continued by asking how the Work Camp would be included in the Town Plan.  D. Nickless explained that the Work Camp has not been discussed.  T. Carrara inquired the traffic flow on Furnace Road.  The members of the Selectboard stated that there have been no sites suggested for the Work Camp.


Tom Carrara inquired if the voters would have an opportunity to vote on the new Town Plan.  H. Pelkey explained that the Town Plan will be submitted to the Selectboard from the Planning Commission, then submitted to the RRPC for approval, then submitted to the State for final approval.  This is following the state laws. 


Another topic that has been raised by other groups was the Village Center.  There was discussion regarding what the center is.  D. Nickless stated that the center is "stretched along Route 7."  A long-range vision would be to create a village center to include sidewalks, streetlights, shopping area.  This may attract travelers and businesses to town.  D. Nickless inquired if a Town Center could be created.  J. Gagnon stated that Brandon had residents and business people behind the invigoration of their areas.  J. Gagnon stated that there may be a need to find outside consultants for this project.  T. Hooker stated that there is no actual Center, so to have a center, one will need to be built and there is land available and the project could be done.  A. Hitchcock stated that the community needed to eliminate sprawl. 


D. Nickless stated that sprawl may have been a reason that some businesses that have failed.  There are different reasons for these businesses that have failed.  A. Hitchcock stated that the trend could continue if there is not something done to prevent further failure.  A. Hitchcock stated that every failure makes it more difficult to attract new businesses. 


Tom Carrara stated that the Recreation Committee is very active for all ages.  Mr. Carrara felt that more activities could be held at the Town Hall and if the activities increased in size, then, explore the possibility of building a community center. 


Kathleen Ramsay stated that there are Special Purpose Planning Grants available from the State and the Village Center may be an option to explore these grants.


D. Nickless inquired what options the Town Administration  (Selectboard, Town Manager) could have when a business comes to town with regard to a business plan to enhance the probability of success.  One way to support new business would be to advertise in the Town Newsletter.  H. Pelkey stated that this could be anti-competitive 


T. Hooker stated that currently there is not enough for the kids to do within the town.  Mr. Hooker suggested maybe something like miniature golf, batting cages or go-cart tracks would be a good idea for the town. 


D. Nickless stated that the last Town Plan expressed growth within the community and none of the suggestions worked.  T. Hooker stated that the town lost a hardware store, laundry, and restaurants.  There was discussion of possibilities of businesses that could be attracted to the town.


Other Business


The next meeting will be held on March 27, 2008.


Meeting adjourned at 7:40 PM


Respectfully Submitted


Kelly Giard, Recording Secretary

Don Nickless, Chair

 Thor Konwin, Vice Chair

Kathryn Brown                                                                       

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