CITY OF VERGENNES
PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES
MONDAY, JANUARY 7, 2019
Members Present: Shannon Haggett-Chair, Mike Winslow-Vice Chair, Danelle Birong,
Cheryl Brinkman, Tim Cook, Christine Garrow, Carrie Macfarlane, John Coburn
Also Present: Kim Trombley
Shannon called the regular meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. He asked if there were any proposed amendments to the agenda. Shannon proposed switching agenda item #4 – “Discussion of redistricting request – 61 Main St.”, with item #3 – Approve Minutes to Regular Meeting of 12/03/2018”. Everyone agreed.
Shannon introduced Kim Trombley, whose family owns 61 Main Street. The parcel is currently located in the Commercial District and Ms. Trombley asked the Planning Commission to consider changes that could give her family more flexibility in potential uses in the future. While she had no clearly defined plans yet, Ms. Trombley is considering a mix of residential and business/commercial use for the property. Under existing regulations, residential uses are not permitted at 61 Main St. The group discussed a number of ideas including redistricting the parcel, and perhaps others, as Medium Density Residential, or Residential/Limited Business; and explored amending the zoning regulations in the Commercial District to permit some residential uses. Ultimately, the Planning Commission opted to table the discussion until February’s meeting to give everyone time to more fully consider the best course of action.
The minutes to the meeting of December 3, 2018 were reviewed. Cheryl moved to approve the minutes with non-substantive changes noted. The motion was seconded by Danelle with all voting in favor.
Next the Planning Commission discussed the process of easement waivers. Shannon reported Peter Garon, Zoning Administrator had asked him about the current process as Peter was unable to locate any relevant guidance in the current regulations. Cheryl suggested tabling discussion of this issue until a future meeting when Peter would be present. She added that in her discussions with Peter there were no immediate needs to address it. Everyone agreed.
The Planning Commission started their review of proposed amendments in Chapter Three of the Municipal Development Plan. This chapter is devoted to City services (Serving our Community). Cheryl and Tim provided brief overviews of the sub-sections they each worked on. Both reported they still needed input from several third-party sources to complete their proposed amendments. Christine asked if Chapter Three might be the most appropriate spot to include information regarding internet service. Everyone agreed.
The Plan review will continue next month with a more complete review of Section 3, (Serving Our Community). Carrie and Danelle will also have their chapters prepared for initial review. Danelle is working on Chapter Two focusing on housing, population and the economy and Carrie is working on Chapter Five covering transportation issues.
Next the Planning Commission heard items of interest updates:
- Transportation items update – Mike reported on the Main Street/Rt 22A paving project planned for 2020. He walked everyone through the initial plans as proposed by Stantec to be considered in the traffic study. Their proposal includes traffic calming solutions such as curb cuts, pedestrian islands, bump outs, and highlighted crosswalks. These enhancements are considered important for safety for pedestrians, and to enhance attractiveness of the downtown for visitors. He also briefly updated everyone on the progress of the Rt. 22A Truck Route study which should be completed in February with a public meeting tentatively planned for March.
Carrie updated everyone that the Department of Housing and Community Development had awarded a Municipal Planning Grant to the consortium group comprised of New Haven and Vergennes for their application to develop a master plan for the triangle-loop bike network. Mike added a steering group has been named for the project and they will hold a kick-off meeting later in January.
- Stormwater items update – Shannon reported Mike, Dana Allen from Watershed Associates, and he attended an Addison Northwest School District meeting in December. The group made a presentation on upgrades to the detention pond on the Vergennes Union High School property. Support is needed from the school board in pursuance of an Ecosystem Restoration Grant planning grant through DEC. The School District board voted to support the project. A similar presentation will be made to the City Council later in January to obtain City support as well. The grant application is due in March.
- Materials Management items update – earlier in the meeting Cheryl had reiterated her December update that R&L Trucking had taken over the five-town drop-off in Vergennes on a temporary basis. They are now handling trash and recycling. As of January 1, 2019, C&J and Casella are no longer present at the site. Drop offs are a fee for service with customers paying cash for trash and recycling. The five towns will no longer pay any fees from taxes related to this process. The ACSWD is still working on plans for a regional drop off.
- Energy Planning items update – There is no updated information.
Under new business, Carrie reported the State of Vermont is in the process of removing legislator’s home addresses from State websites and noted the City of Vergennes website includes the home addresses of City Council members as well as appointed volunteers such as members of the Planning Commission and the Development Review Board. She stated she was somewhat uncomfortable about having her home address listed publicly on the City’s website and asked how others felt about it. After discussing the pros and cons in more detail, most people felt that while they didn’t think it does any tangible harm to have the information on the website, there is a recognition of the potential erosion of privacy and sense of security by having the information there. Carrie said she would discuss the issue further with the City Manager.
Also under new business Shannon reported the Town of Waltham is exploring zoning regulation changes for their town that would potentially drive development on the northern edge of Waltham – in the vicinity of McKnight Lane. Any dense development in that area would require the cooperation of Vergennes as a sewer line extension would most likely be needed. He asked what everyone’s thoughts were of that possibility so that he could voice the collective opinion of the Planning Commission if asked. After discussion, the consensus was that it made sense to seek development in that area, but it was noted that such a sewer extension would require a city-wide vote.
No additional new business was presented.
The meeting adjourned at 8:57 p.m.
Shannon Haggett, Chair