Planning Commission Minutes 11-13-2017






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 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 October 23, 2017 were reviewed. Mike moved to approve the minutes as presented. The motion was seconded by Cheryl with all voting in favor.

The Planning Commission Rules of Procedure requires that a reorganization meeting be held annually in November. The rules require the election of officers. Cheryl moved that the current slate of Officers, Shannon Haggett as Chair, Mike Winslow as Vice Chair and Mel Hawley as Clerk be re-elected. The motion was seconded by John with all voting in favor.

The rules also require that the Planning Commission Rules of Procedure be subject to re-adoption at the annual meeting in November. Mike moved that the Planning Commission Rules of Procedure be adopted with proposed amendments as discussed during the October meeting. The motion was seconded by Cheryl with all voting in favor. Shannon stated the date for the December regular meeting falls on Christmas and said he would cancel the regular meeting and warn a special meeting for Monday, December 18, 2017. The group then discussed the possibility of changing the regular meeting night from the fourth Monday of the month back to the third Monday of the month. Shannon noted that any proposed amendments to the Rules of Procedure be presented in writing to each member of the Planning Commission at least 48 hours preceding the meeting at which the vote is taken. He offered the amendment could be voted upon at the December special meeting. Mike moved that the annual meeting be recessed until the December special meeting when the proposed amendment may be presented, discussed and voted upon. The motion was seconded by Cheryl with all voting in favor.

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.

John provided everyone with consolidated tables of dimensional standards for each district sorted by standard. The group agreed to propose amendments to make the dimensional standards more consistent throughout the districts. For example, in the Northern Gateway District there is a dimensional standard named “Building Height Limit” and in other districts the standard is named “Building Height Maximum”. The group also agreed to list the same set of standards in every district even if the standard is not applicable in that district. In this way, anyone can look up the dimensional standards in each district and more clearly understand what is regulated. The group discussed at length coverage maximum standards in the Historic Neighborhood District. Tim suggested using a call-out box to more clearly explain the graduated dimensional standards where a certain percentage is allowed for the first 5,000 square feet of lot size and a different percentage is allowed for the next incremental amount of square footage. It was also agreed to change the first increment from 50% of the first 5,000 square feet of lot size to 50% of the first 7,000 square feet of lot size. The group discussed possibly decreasing the minimum lot size for a one-family dwelling in the High Density Residential District from 15,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet. The potential benefit would be to incent development in the district. Another possible benefit is the district would become eligible to participate in the Neighborhood Development Area program. No decision was made for this proposed amendment. In the interest of time, Shannon asked that everyone review the rest of the dimensional standards in advance of the December meeting and to be prepared to discuss any standards proposed for amendment.

Tim asked if the group would revisit Section 1604.F.2 and Section 1511. Tim proposed adding a sentence in 1604.F.2 to include roof size and pitch. Shannon noted other subsections cover the concept of mass, form and scale to include roofs (e.g. Section 1604.F.6 and Section 1604.F.7). Mel suggested updating Section 1617 – illustrated guidelines, to include more examples of what is allowed and what is not allowed to help clarify Tim’s proposal. Tim will work on preliminary illustrations to be included. For Section 1511, Tim proposed including a sentence to read, “Garage doors may not be located in the wall plane closest to the street.” After lengthy discussion, the group agreed to include the language and to move Section 1511 to 1501.C and to include language to authorize the Development Review Board to approve attached or detached garages not in conformance with the regulations as they currently do for accessory structures.

Shannon said he would take all the proposed amendments discussed thus far and produce a “track-changes” word document of the regulations so they can be reviewed at the December meeting.

Next the group reviewed a draft sandwich board and temporary sign use policy. Mel stated the policy was drafted by Alderman Renny Perry for review by the City Council and Mayor Daniels and Alderman Perry wanted the Planning Commission to comment on the draft policy. The group’s comments included:

  • In the duration of posting section, there is an “X days prior to” start date for the sign, but no end date.
  • Is there a definition or clarification on what would constitute an “event”?
  • Real estate and rental signs are regulated elsewhere (Section 1302.3) and should only be displayed on private property and not in the public right of way.
  • Political and campaign signs should only be displayed on private property and not in the public right of way.

Next the Planning Commission heard items of interest updates:

  • Transportation items update – Shannon reported the Addison Regional Planning Commission Transportation Advisory Committee is meeting on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 at 7 p.m. to discuss truck traffic in Vergennes and members of City government and VTrans will be in attendance. He added the meeting is open to the public and encouraged anyone interested to attend.
  • Stormwater items update – No update
  • Materials Management items update – No update
  • Energy Planning items update – No update

Under new business, Shannon reported Peter Garon, Chair of the Development Review Board, recently attended a planning workshop hosted by the Vermont League of Cities and Towns regarding Act 250 and the Environmental Court. Peter has copies of the presentations from the workshop and has shared them with Shannon. Shannon offered to send copies to anyone who would like to see them.

The meeting adjourned at 9:27 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Mel Hawley, Clerk