Planning Commission Minutes 02-27-2017






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

Members Absent: Morgan Kittredge

Also Present: Mel Hawley, Zoning Administrator; Kevin Rooney, Vergennes Partnership

Shannon called the regular meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. He proposed moving agenda item #5 to the beginning of the meeting as Kevin Rooney was in attendance to discuss the Neighborhood Development Area Designation. Everyone agreed. He then asked if there were any additional amendments to the agenda. No other amendments were proposed.

Kevin Rooney informed the Planning Commission about the Neighborhood Development Area Designation administered by the State of Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. This housing incentive program helps lower the cost to build housing in areas within easy walking distance of commercial centers. Eligible communities must have an existing designation downtown development district with adopted plans, policies and regulations that support housing and smart growth development. The designation may be applied for by municipalities or individual developers. Benefits of the designation include potential waiving of Act 250 review, reduced state fees for wastewater connection and limited risk of project appeal. Kevin reported he and other members of the Vergennes Partnership Economic Development Committee met with the former administrator of the program in 2016 and they were now interested in pursuing the designation and wanted to enlist the support of the Planning Commission.

Everyone agreed the designation could be another “tool in the toolbox” for the City to attract development. Mel pointed out the Planning Commission should be involved in the mapping of the area covered by the designation. Jason asked for more specifics on the potential limits on project appeal expressing concern for due process from citizens impacted by projects. Mel noted the Neighborhood Development Area Designation was listed as an agenda item for the City Council’s next meeting and if both the Planning Commission and the City Council agreed, a pre-application meeting would be scheduled with Faith Ingulsrud, the program administrator. Everyone agreed the designation should be applied for by the City instead of by an individual developer and a pre-application meeting is appropriate to determine next steps.

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

The Planning Commission began a review of Section 1604.F – Specific Standards in the Historic Neighborhood District. Mel asked the Planning Commission to review the details of a recent zoning permit application for a proposed new construction of a one-family dwelling in the Historic Neighborhood District. He asked everyone to look at the application from the perspective of the Zoning Administrator as he was seeking clarity as to whether the proposed construction fell under the jurisdiction of the Zoning Administrator or if it needed to go before the Development Review Board. And if review fell to the Zoning Administrator, would the proposed building meet the standards of the district. This request was two-fold. Mel knows the applicant personally and wanted additional feedback on the application and he wanted the Planning Commission to better understand the application process and how the regulations they develop become interpreted. After a lengthy discussion it was concluded the proposed building and its placement does not conform to the standards in subsections 2, 4, 7, and 8. Mel stated he would inform the applicant.

Shannon reported the City Council held their first public hearing on the proposed amendments to the municipal development plan on Tuesday, February 14, 2017 and no changes were proposed. The second hearing will be held on Tuesday, February 28, 2017 at 5:30 p.m. He added he hadn’t yet prepared a document showing the next set of proposed amendments but would have it for the March meeting. Once those amendments are finalized, the Planning Commission will move them to a public hearing.

Shannon reported the pedestrian safety task force met on February 1, 2017 at the Police Station meeting room. The group compiled a list of recommendations that will be presented to the City Council at their meeting scheduled for February 28, 2017.

Next the Planning Commission heard items of interest updates:

Transportation items update – No update.

Stormwater items update – No update.

Materials Management items update – Cheryl reported presented new state materials management rules and deadlines to the City Council at their regular meeting on January 24, 2017

Under new business

The meeting adjourned at 8:42 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Mel Hawley, Clerk