All posts by Mel Hawley

Planning Commission Minutes 12-18-2017

CITY OF VERGENNES

PLANNING COMMISSION

MINUTES

SPECIAL MEETING

MONDAY, DECEMBER, 18, 2017

Members Present: Shannon Haggett-Chair, Mike Winslow-Vice Chair, John Coburn

Tim Cook

Members Absent: Cheryl Brinkman

Also Present: Mel Hawley, Zoning Administrator

Shannon called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. He asked if there were any proposed amendments to the agenda. No amendments were requested.

The minutes to the meeting of November 13, 2017 were reviewed. Mike moved to approve the minutes as presented. The motion was seconded by John with all voting in favor.

The Planning Commission re-convened the annual meeting to discuss and vote on proposed amendments to the Planning Commission Rules of Procedure. The two proposed amendments were to 1) change the schedule of the regular meeting from the fourth Monday of the month to the third Monday of the month or 2) change the schedule of the regular meeting from the fourth Monday of the month to the first Monday of the month. After discussing the potential benefits of either proposed amendment, Tim moved to change the schedule of the regular meeting from the fourth Monday of the month to the first Monday of the month, effective February, 2018. The motion was seconded by John with all voting in favor.

Mel stated the Zoning and Subdivision Permit Fee Structure was last updated in 2011. He explained that hard costs for planning and zoning include the salary of the Zoning Administrator/Planning Commission Clerk, stipends for the members of the Planning Commission and Development Review Board, the cost of publishing public notices, and occasional legal fees. Approximately half of the annual cost is expected to be funded from fees paid by applicants and the other half covered by the general fund operating budget. The rationale is everyone in the city benefits from the planning process, and applicants/developers should be expected to fund the development review process. After discussion, everyone agreed this is a sound guiding philosophy and should be continued. Mel added he had requested information from the Addison County Regional Planning Commission regarding the fee structures of other municipalities in the region. Once he receives the information, the Planning Commission will continue the discussion.

The potential changes of the zoning and subdivision regulations were reviewed to bring them into conformance with the newly adopted municipal development plan.

Shannon noted three items not previously discussed. He stated a need for a definition of “substantial completion” as Section 307 refers to the term. He provided draft language from the American Institute of Architects for “substantial completion”. Everyone agreed it should be added. Next he stated there was a need for a definition of “garage”. Everyone agreed to include the draft definition. Finally, he stated the need for language governing “electronic message centers”. Mel reported VUHS is in the process of purchasing and installing an electronic message center and through the process it was discovered the current regulations do not specifically address them. Shannon provided model language from a municipality that regulates electronic message centers. After lengthy discussion, it was agreed to propose the model language as part of the amendments.

The proposed amendments previously discussed using a “track-changes” WORD document of the regulations were reviewed. Items requiring additional changes include:

  • Section 1006.D.3 – place a limit on the density bonus for meeting/exceeding third-party energy efficiency standard certifications in a planned unit development. Tim will also research programs to ensure any cited in the regulation are requiring results above what is current standard building code/practices.
  • Section 1309.5 – add a clause that light level standards shall be measured at the property line.
  • Section 1408.C – change “unattached accessory dwelling unit” to “detached accessory dwelling unit”.
  • Section 1501.C.2 – remove the proposed subsection “Garage doors may not be located in the wall plane closest to the street.”
  • Section1604.D – dimensional standards in the Historic Neighborhood District. The members agreed to include a “call-out box” to explain graduated dimensional standards for coverage maximums.
  • Section 1606.D – after lengthy discussion, members agreed to retain the minimum lot size of 15,000 square feet for a one-family dwelling in the High Density Residential District.
  • Section 1617.H – members suggested that additional examples with different roof pitches to clarify what is and is not allowed in the Historic Neighborhood District.
  • Section 1617.I – add an illustrated guide to show a garage as a dominant feature and one which is not.

Tim moved to have Shannon make the proposed changes agreed upon and authorize Shannon and Mel to finalize the proposed amendments and schedule a public hearing for February 5, 2018. The motion was seconded by John with all voting in favor.

Next the Planning Commission heard items of interest updates:

  • Transportation items update – Shannon reported the Addison County Regional Planning Commission Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) met on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 to discuss truck traffic in Vergennes. Mel added the members of the TAC voted unanimously to recommend VTrans pursue a bypass for VT Route 22A/Main Street in Vergennes. Mel reported he attended the public hearing on December 13, 2017 held by the Addison County Regional Planning Commission regarding their re-write of the Transportation Section. Their second public hearing, originally planned for January 10, 2018, will likely be held on February 14, 2018.
  • Stormwater items update – Shannon reported Dana Allen from Watershed Consulting Associates, LLC released a report making recommendations for preferred sites to be select for 30% design plans and landscape renderings. Claire Tebbs from Addison County Regional Planning Commission is setting up a meeting in January to finalize the selection process. After the meeting Shannon, Mike and Mel will report back to the Planning Commission on the results. Shannon added he would send the link containing the report to everyone.
  • Materials Management items update – No update
  • Energy Planning items update – No update

No new business was discussed.

The meeting adjourned at 9:45 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Mel Hawley, Clerk

Planning Commission Minutes 11-13-2017

CITY OF VERGENNES

PLANNING COMMISSION

MINUTES

SPECIAL MEETING AND ANNUAL MEETING

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2017

Members Present: Shannon Haggett-Chair, Mike Winslow-Vice Chair, Cheryl Brinkman, Tim Cook, John Coburn

Also Present: Mel Hawley, Zoning Administrator

Shannon called the regular meeting to order at 7 p.m. He then asked if there were any proposed amendments to the agenda. No amendments were requested.

The minutes to the regular meeting of October 23, 2017 were reviewed. Mike moved to approve the minutes as presented. The motion was seconded by Cheryl with all voting in favor.

The Planning Commission Rules of Procedure requires that a reorganization meeting be held annually in November. The rules require the election of officers. Cheryl moved that the current slate of Officers, Shannon Haggett as Chair, Mike Winslow as Vice Chair and Mel Hawley as Clerk be re-elected. The motion was seconded by John with all voting in favor.

The rules also require that the Planning Commission Rules of Procedure be subject to re-adoption at the annual meeting in November. Mike moved that the Planning Commission Rules of Procedure be adopted with proposed amendments as discussed during the October meeting. The motion was seconded by Cheryl with all voting in favor. Shannon stated the date for the December regular meeting falls on Christmas and said he would cancel the regular meeting and warn a special meeting for Monday, December 18, 2017. The group then discussed the possibility of changing the regular meeting night from the fourth Monday of the month back to the third Monday of the month. Shannon noted that any proposed amendments to the Rules of Procedure be presented in writing to each member of the Planning Commission at least 48 hours preceding the meeting at which the vote is taken. He offered the amendment could be voted upon at the December special meeting. Mike moved that the annual meeting be recessed until the December special meeting when the proposed amendment may be presented, discussed and voted upon. The motion was seconded by Cheryl with all voting in favor.

The group next began to review potential changes of the zoning and subdivision regulations to bring them into conformance with the newly adopted municipal development plan.

John provided everyone with consolidated tables of dimensional standards for each district sorted by standard. The group agreed to propose amendments to make the dimensional standards more consistent throughout the districts. For example, in the Northern Gateway District there is a dimensional standard named “Building Height Limit” and in other districts the standard is named “Building Height Maximum”. The group also agreed to list the same set of standards in every district even if the standard is not applicable in that district. In this way, anyone can look up the dimensional standards in each district and more clearly understand what is regulated. The group discussed at length coverage maximum standards in the Historic Neighborhood District. Tim suggested using a call-out box to more clearly explain the graduated dimensional standards where a certain percentage is allowed for the first 5,000 square feet of lot size and a different percentage is allowed for the next incremental amount of square footage. It was also agreed to change the first increment from 50% of the first 5,000 square feet of lot size to 50% of the first 7,000 square feet of lot size. The group discussed possibly decreasing the minimum lot size for a one-family dwelling in the High Density Residential District from 15,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet. The potential benefit would be to incent development in the district. Another possible benefit is the district would become eligible to participate in the Neighborhood Development Area program. No decision was made for this proposed amendment. In the interest of time, Shannon asked that everyone review the rest of the dimensional standards in advance of the December meeting and to be prepared to discuss any standards proposed for amendment.

Tim asked if the group would revisit Section 1604.F.2 and Section 1511. Tim proposed adding a sentence in 1604.F.2 to include roof size and pitch. Shannon noted other subsections cover the concept of mass, form and scale to include roofs (e.g. Section 1604.F.6 and Section 1604.F.7). Mel suggested updating Section 1617 – illustrated guidelines, to include more examples of what is allowed and what is not allowed to help clarify Tim’s proposal. Tim will work on preliminary illustrations to be included. For Section 1511, Tim proposed including a sentence to read, “Garage doors may not be located in the wall plane closest to the street.” After lengthy discussion, the group agreed to include the language and to move Section 1511 to 1501.C and to include language to authorize the Development Review Board to approve attached or detached garages not in conformance with the regulations as they currently do for accessory structures.

Shannon said he would take all the proposed amendments discussed thus far and produce a “track-changes” word document of the regulations so they can be reviewed at the December meeting.

Next the group reviewed a draft sandwich board and temporary sign use policy. Mel stated the policy was drafted by Alderman Renny Perry for review by the City Council and Mayor Daniels and Alderman Perry wanted the Planning Commission to comment on the draft policy. The group’s comments included:

  • In the duration of posting section, there is an “X days prior to” start date for the sign, but no end date.
  • Is there a definition or clarification on what would constitute an “event”?
  • Real estate and rental signs are regulated elsewhere (Section 1302.3) and should only be displayed on private property and not in the public right of way.
  • Political and campaign signs should only be displayed on private property and not in the public right of way.

Next the Planning Commission heard items of interest updates:

  • Transportation items update – Shannon reported the Addison Regional Planning Commission Transportation Advisory Committee is meeting on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 at 7 p.m. to discuss truck traffic in Vergennes and members of City government and VTrans will be in attendance. He added the meeting is open to the public and encouraged anyone interested to attend.
  • Stormwater items update – No update
  • Materials Management items update – No update
  • Energy Planning items update – No update

Under new business, Shannon reported Peter Garon, Chair of the Development Review Board, recently attended a planning workshop hosted by the Vermont League of Cities and Towns regarding Act 250 and the Environmental Court. Peter has copies of the presentations from the workshop and has shared them with Shannon. Shannon offered to send copies to anyone who would like to see them.

The meeting adjourned at 9:27 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Mel Hawley, Clerk