CITY OF VERGENNES
MONDAY, AUGUST 28, 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 7:00 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 July 24, 2017 were reviewed. Cheryl moved to approve the minutes as presented. The motion was seconded by John with all voting in favor.
Shannon reported the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) which is affiliated with Addison County Regional Planning Commission had re-opened their 2017 transportation planning grant process to allow for additional applications to be submitted. Applications may be submitted until September 18, 2017 for consideration. He noted that Brent Rakowski, the delegate to the TAC for Vergennes had asked if the Planning Commission knew of any projects that might be submitted. The group brainstormed ideas including a pedestrian bridge over Otter Creek, sidewalk extension to the Ferrisburgh Park and Ride, roundabout or other traffic calming items at the intersection of West Main Street (Route 22A) and Panton Road, and a sidewalk extension on the north side of Main Street from the Bixby Library to the bridge. Ultimately the group determined there were no new studies that should be undertaken right now. The consensus was there are enough existing studies and pending projects that need to be prioritized and executed. However, in reviewing “parking lot” items of proposed amendments to the zoning and subdivision regulations, street standards for new development came up as a possible study area. This is an area where all members of the Planning Commission admitted not being able to provide clarity to the regulations without someone more informed being able to guide the process. At that point Mike asked if it would be appropriate to apply for a planning grant to hire an expert to help flesh out the infrastructure standards in our regulations. Shannon said he would contact Brent regarding the matter.
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.
- Section 1306.I: Sandwich board signs. Shannon reported at their meeting of August 22, 2017, the City Council agreed to explore whether or not to regulate sandwich board signs in the public right of way as it was not clearly a land use item under the purview of the Planning Commission. Mel added while the City Council would investigate signs in the public right of way, the Planning Commission should still address sandwich board signs on private property. Everyone agreed. After discussion the group agreed to propose the following language:
I. Sandwich board signs shall be permitted on private property as long as they:
- Do not obstruct or interfere with pedestrian travel and sidewalk functions
- Do not create a pedestrian or vehicular safety hazard
- Do not exceed six (6) square feet in area per sign
- Are only displayed during normal business hours
- Section 1613.C: Dimensional Standards in the Northern Gateway District. Shannon stated the tables for dimensional standards are somewhat confusing and he had seen where different people would come up with different answers when doing things such as calculating maximum residential density. He suggested it would be beneficial to reformat the dimensional standards in a more easy-to-use way to reduce the chance of incorrect calculations. John asked if this should be done for all districts. Everyone agreed. John volunteered to compile a database for the next meeting of all dimensional standards in all districts so the group could review them an clarify them.
- Definition of “Parking Space”. Mel asked whether an enclosed parking space, such as a garage could be counted as part of required off-street parking. After discussion, everyone agreed it could. The updated definition is proposed as “PARKING SPACE: Off-street enclosed or open space which is at least nine feet wide and eighteen feet long, not including any access driveway and having direct access to a street or alley used for the temporary location of one motor vehicle.
- Definition of “Bed and Breakfast” and “Boarding or Rooming House”. Mel asked for clarification on which use would be better suited for “Air B & B” or other short-term online rental classes of trade. After lengthy discussion the group determined they need more information to make a meaningful proposal. Shannon volunteered to investigate how other municipalities are handling and defining the use.
- Section 1604.F.11: Demolition in the Historic Neighborhood District. Mel asked if the section should be updated to include not just the demolition of any building, but also “a part of a building”. Everyone agreed it should. The proposed language is “Demolition of any building or part thereof which contributes to the historic….”
- Section 1403.1: Performance Standards. Mel raised a concern about the word “persistent” in the regulation. After discussion everyone agreed the section should remain unchanged.
- Section 1613.B: Conditional Uses in the Northern Gateway District. Mel asked if it would be appropriate to add “Hotel” as a conditional use for the district. Everyone thought this would be a good idea. Shannon asked if “Inn” should also be included. After discussion it was determined that “Inn” could not be added as the definition of “Inn” states an inn is associated with “a one-family or two-family dwelling unit” and those uses are not permitted in the Northern Gateway District.
- Section 1006.D.3: Density Bonus in PUDs. Cheryl provided the following draft language for the section and everyone agreed it should be proposed. She added the current section 1006.D.3 should be moved to 1006.D.4. Everyone agreed.
3. A Density bonus may also be granted by the Development Review Board for meeting third party certification standards for energy efficiency. Examples of current programs include but are not limited to the Vermont Energy Star Home designation or Efficiency Vermont’s Certification Levels or others as approved by the Development Review Board.
- Section 1006.J: Energy Conservation. Cheryl provided the following draft language for the section and everyone agreed it should be proposed.
J. Energy Conservation – Energy efficient site design and layout shall be encouraged and may be required where the Development Review Board deems appropriate. In order to promote energy conservation, to the extent practicable:
- Building locations shall be established that have southern, southeastern and southwestern orientation to enable passive and active solar access;
- Vegetation preservation and landscaping shall be effectively incorporated to provide wind barriers and to reduce heat loss or gain as appropriate;
- The siting of lots and buildings shall minimize road and driveway and utility construction; and
- Supporting infrastructure for alternative modes of transportation (e.g., interconnected bicycle and pedestrian paths, transit stops) will be incorporated into developments.
Next the Planning Commission heard items of interest updates:
- Transportation items update – No update.
- Stormwater items update – Tim asked how the trend of increased precipitation projected for the northeast over the next several years would impact stormwater and flood hazard regulations. Mike responded the Vermont Stormwater Manual refers to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to define storm events. In particular, for the flood protection standard they say, “site designers shall use rainfall values from NOAA Atlas 14, or its replacement” unless site specific data are available and approved by Department of Environmental Conservation. Once the new designs are set, that information will inform the regulation update process at federal, state and local levels.
- Materials Management items update – Cheryl said that Addison County Solid Waste Management District Board of Supervisors will be holding their annual retreat on September 21, 2017 and will be discuss district owned and operated recycling centers.
- Energy Planning items update – No update
No new business was presented.
The meeting adjourned at 9:12 p.m.
Mel Hawley, Clerk