Planning Commission Minutes 03-27-2017





MONDAY, MARCH 27, 2017

Members Present: Shannon Haggett-Chair, Mike Winslow-Vice Chair, Cheryl Brinkman, Tim Cook, Jason Farrell

Members Absent: Morgan Kittredge, John Coburn

Also Present: Mel Hawley, Zoning Administrator; Mayor Michael Daniels

Shannon called the regular meeting to order at 7:15 p.m. He then asked if there were any amendments to the agenda. No amendments were requested.

Mayor Daniels addressed the Planning Commission. He commended them on the work they do for the City of Vergennes and added he would be in touch with members whose terms expire in 2017 to ask them to consider reappointment to the Planning Commission.

The minutes to the regular meeting of February 27, 2017 were reviewed. Cheryl moved to approve the minutes as presented. The motion was seconded by Mike with all voting in favor.

Cheryl, the City’s representative on the Addison County Regional Planning Commission’s Energy Committee informed everyone about a pilot program whereby the ACRPC would assist three municipalities in the county to develop an energy plan. She said there was a deadline of March 31, 2017 for municipalities to express interest in being chosen as one of the three. Shannon added he and Cheryl had discussed the program and thought it was not anything we would want to pursue at this time, but wanted to present it to everyone to get an overall opinion. Mike stated since we’ve already written our proposed energy plan and we’re not seeking substantial deference status from the Public Service Board it would be better if we continued on our own. Everyone agreed.

Mel informed everyone the proposed amendments to the municipal development plan including the boundary map of the downtown development district had been adopted by the City Council on February 28th. He said the Vermont Downtown Development Board held their monthly meeting on March 27th. He, Shannon and Amy Bodette Barr, Marketing and Development Coordinator for the Vergennes Partnership, spoke to the board about the close working relationship between City staff and the Vergennes Partnership, the continuing streetscape improvements, implementation of recommendations from the recently completed downtown-basin master plan, and efforts to market the downtown through an updated website. The renewal was unanimously approved by the board.

Shannon then stated the City Council also recommended further investigation of the Neighborhood Development Area designation as discussed at the February Planning Commission meeting. He added a pre-application meeting had been set for April 19th with Faith Ingulsrud, the state administrator for the program, Mel, Amy Bodette Barr, himself and others. An update will be provided to the Planning Commission at the April meeting.

The group then started a final review of proposed amendments to the municipal development plan. They agreed to change the title of “Solid Waste or Materials Management” to Solid Waste/Materials Management”. Shannon noted the addition of the outdoor classroom property to the table of parcels devoted to recreation and asked Mel for the acreage of the parcel so it can be updated on the table. Mel responded 8.13 acres. Shannon said he would update the table. In the goals and policies under Solid Waste/Materials Management, Mel said “Town Manager” should be changed to “City Manager”. Cheryl provided updated wording for the energy section and policies to include mention of performance standards discussed at the January meeting. Shannon added he would properly renumber the policies in the section. Jason asked that the abbreviation for the Solar Energy Overlay District (SEO) be included at the start of the section. Shannon noted he would prefer to obtain an updated land use map from ACRPC that includes the proposed re-designation of the properties in the southwest corner of the city from LDR to MDR; and to include the SEO district.

Shannon added he had recently attended a planning webinar hosted by the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. In the webinar there was a discussion of adoption by reference – meaning while key elements of the downtown-basin master plan have been included as proposed amendments to the municipal development plan, the entire downtown-basin master plan can be incorporated into the municipal development plan by being an appendix to the plan. This will aid the City with executing future projects.

The Planning Commission then discussed the timing of moving the proposed amendments to the municipal development plan to a public hearing. Mel informed everyone there is a required mailing that must occur 30 days before the Planning Commission’s public hearing and then two public hearings by the City Council prior to adoption. He added if the Planning Commission planned to move to public hearing at their April meeting, the 30 days would be on Memorial Day. He also noted the proposed amendments need to be final at the time of moving to public hearing as the document and report need to be sent to adjacent municipalities, ACRPC and the state at that time. Without the updated map, the document isn’t final. There was discussion amongst the group as to the need to finalize the proposed amendments as soon as possible or to delay. Mike moved to have Shannon make the changes already agreed upon and to obtain an updated land use map from ACRPC, and when finalized to empower Shannon and Mel to move the document to public hearing. The motion was seconded by Tim with all voting in favor.

Next the Planning Commission heard items of interest updates:

Transportation items update – Shannon mentioned that at the Annual City Meeting earlier in the month, State Representative Diane Lanpher stated she had introduced H.486 an act relating to motor truck traffic in downtown Vergennes. He provided a copy for everyone’s review and said the bill is in the House Transportation Committee. Jason and Mike added it was unlikely it would move forward on its own at this stage of the session, but it may be added to another bill.

Stormwater items update – No update was submitted. Shannon asked Mel if there was any news on the grant application from the Lake Champlain Basin Program. Mel responded there was no information yet. Tim asked Mel about infiltration in the City’s sewer line system. Mel responded new monitoring items have been put in place and we’re in the process of collecting data which will be used to determine the next steps.

Materials Management items update – No update.

No new business was proposed.

The meeting adjourned at 8:47 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Mel Hawley, Clerk