Planning Commission Minutes 09-25-2017






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

Members Absent: 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 August 28, 2017 were reviewed. Cheryl asked about the status of applying for a Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) grant to draft model language for street standards for new development. Shannon responded he had been in contact with Brent Rakowski, the TAC delegate for the City of Vergennes, who advised the project would not warrant a grant and he would present model language at a later date. Mike moved to approve the minutes as presented. The motion was seconded by Cheryl with all voting in favor.

Shannon reported to the group the intent to revise the City’s application to the Neighborhood Development Area program. During the pre-application process, Faith Ingulsrud from the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) had expressed concern the application may not be successful as the proposed boundary included areas outside the 0.5 mile planning area – most notably the Northern Gateway District. The City will revise the boundary to exclude the Northern Gateway District. Mike asked the purpose from ACCD’s standpoint to not allow areas outside the 0.5 mile planning area. Shannon responded the purpose is to limit the potential for sprawl. Mike expressed disappointment the Northern Gateway District would not be included as development in the district would actually help contain and reduce potential sprawl in the region. Mel added it would be better to submit a successful application now and to seek expansion of the boundary in the future. Everyone agreed. Shannon stated he would create new maps for the application and would forward them to Mel and to Amy Barr from the Vergennes Partnership so they could complete and submit the application.

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.

  • Definition of “Personal Service”. Shannon noted he found an email string from 2016 where Cheryl and Mel recommended replacing “beauty parlor” with “salon, spa”. Everyone agreed,
  • Definition of “Bed and Breakfast” and “Boarding or Rooming House”. Shannon reported he had researched how other municipalities are handling “Air BNB”. After a lengthy discussion, it was agreed the concept of “Air BNB” is more a method of rental and not a use. There was consensus the definition for “Bed and Breakfast” be updated to clarify “short-term rental” as being less than 30 days. The group could not decide if the current definition “Boarding or Rooming House” was substantially different from “Bed and Breakfast”. Shannon volunteered to investigate further and will bring draft language to the next meeting.
  • Section 1613.C: Dimensional Standards in the Northern Gateway District. John had sent Mel and Shannon tables containing the dimensional standards for all zoning districts for review. Shannon volunteered to make their format more consistent and easy-to-use and will bring draft tables to the October meeting for review.
  • Section 1511: Garages. Mel stated he may have granted permits in error as the regulation reads “Front-loading (entrance facing the street) garages shall not comprise more than forty percent (40%) of the total front façade.” He presented several examples where the linear feet of the attached garage was more than 40%. Mike noted the regulation mentions the façade, meaning the calculation should be made from the square footage of the garage’s façade in relation to the square footage of the house’s façade. Mel’s examples were in compliance with the regulations and no changes were needed to the language. However, Mel suggested the section should be moved to Section 1502 to be near the sections on accessory structures and temporary storage structures. Everyone agreed.
  • Section 1617: Illustrated Guidelines. Tim noted the existing illustrations for Massing, Scale and Rhythm are appropriate for the Central Business District, but less helpful for the Historic Neighborhood District. He volunteered to present examples which might help clarify the concept for the district.

Shannon informed everyone the Rules of Procedure dictate that any proposed amendments to those rules be made in writing provided that such amendment has been presented in writing to each member of the Planning Commission at least 48 hours preceding the meeting at which the vote is taken. As the rules are scheduled to be reviewed at the annual meeting in November, he wanted to alert everyone to submit any proposed amendments at the October meeting.

Next the Planning Commission heard items of interest updates:

  • Transportation items update – No update.
  • Stormwater items update – Mel reported the City was in the process of applying for a municipal planning grant through the Agency of Commerce and Community Development to develop a plan to improve performance of the Macdonough pump station. He stated this station appears to be the “weak link” in the system. The pumps are sized properly to handle the flow, but often are unable to do so because of debris such as flushable wipes impeding their operation. He said having something to pre-treat the flow and mitigate the debris would go a long way to solving overflow problems. He also reported hearing the potential scope of the project may be too narrow, but he felt this is worth pursuing. Mike added there may be monies available through the Army Corps of Engineers. He noted the match for those funds was 40% and it probably wouldn’t make sense to pursue funding from them unless it was a project over one million dollars. Everyone agreed the municipal planning grant should be pursued and the group authorized Shannon to write a letter of support from the Planning Commission if such a letter would help.
  • Materials Management items update – No update.
  • Energy Planning items update – No update

Under new business, Shannon reported the first hour of the October meeting on October 23, 2017 would be devoted to a design/mapping workshop to brainstorm potential places in Vergennes for future green infrastructure systems. The session will be led by Dana Allen and Andres Torizzo of Watershed Associates. They will eventually be prioritizing and detailing three, 30% design concepts as part of their current wastewater and stormwater assessments for Vergennes. Claire Tebbs from Addison County Regional Planning Commission will also be there to assist with public outreach for the project. Shannon encouraged the group to invite any potentially interested parties to attend. Mel suggested meeting in the Vergennes Fire Station meeting room to allow for greater public participation. Everyone agreed.

The meeting adjourned at 8:42 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Mel Hawley, Clerk