Planning Commission Minutes 12-18-2017






Members Present: Shannon Haggett-Chair, Mike Winslow-Vice Chair, John Coburn

Tim Cook

Members Absent: Cheryl Brinkman

Also Present: Mel Hawley, Zoning Administrator

Shannon called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. He asked if there were any proposed amendments to the agenda. No amendments were requested.

The minutes to the meeting of November 13, 2017 were reviewed. Mike moved to approve the minutes as presented. The motion was seconded by John with all voting in favor.

The Planning Commission re-convened the annual meeting to discuss and vote on proposed amendments to the Planning Commission Rules of Procedure. The two proposed amendments were to 1) change the schedule of the regular meeting from the fourth Monday of the month to the third Monday of the month or 2) change the schedule of the regular meeting from the fourth Monday of the month to the first Monday of the month. After discussing the potential benefits of either proposed amendment, Tim moved to change the schedule of the regular meeting from the fourth Monday of the month to the first Monday of the month, effective February, 2018. The motion was seconded by John with all voting in favor.

Mel stated the Zoning and Subdivision Permit Fee Structure was last updated in 2011. He explained that hard costs for planning and zoning include the salary of the Zoning Administrator/Planning Commission Clerk, stipends for the members of the Planning Commission and Development Review Board, the cost of publishing public notices, and occasional legal fees. Approximately half of the annual cost is expected to be funded from fees paid by applicants and the other half covered by the general fund operating budget. The rationale is everyone in the city benefits from the planning process, and applicants/developers should be expected to fund the development review process. After discussion, everyone agreed this is a sound guiding philosophy and should be continued. Mel added he had requested information from the Addison County Regional Planning Commission regarding the fee structures of other municipalities in the region. Once he receives the information, the Planning Commission will continue the discussion.

The potential changes of the zoning and subdivision regulations were reviewed to bring them into conformance with the newly adopted municipal development plan.

Shannon noted three items not previously discussed. He stated a need for a definition of “substantial completion” as Section 307 refers to the term. He provided draft language from the American Institute of Architects for “substantial completion”. Everyone agreed it should be added. Next he stated there was a need for a definition of “garage”. Everyone agreed to include the draft definition. Finally, he stated the need for language governing “electronic message centers”. Mel reported VUHS is in the process of purchasing and installing an electronic message center and through the process it was discovered the current regulations do not specifically address them. Shannon provided model language from a municipality that regulates electronic message centers. After lengthy discussion, it was agreed to propose the model language as part of the amendments.

The proposed amendments previously discussed using a “track-changes” WORD document of the regulations were reviewed. Items requiring additional changes include:

  • Section 1006.D.3 – place a limit on the density bonus for meeting/exceeding third-party energy efficiency standard certifications in a planned unit development. Tim will also research programs to ensure any cited in the regulation are requiring results above what is current standard building code/practices.
  • Section 1309.5 – add a clause that light level standards shall be measured at the property line.
  • Section 1408.C – change “unattached accessory dwelling unit” to “detached accessory dwelling unit”.
  • Section 1501.C.2 – remove the proposed subsection “Garage doors may not be located in the wall plane closest to the street.”
  • Section1604.D – dimensional standards in the Historic Neighborhood District. The members agreed to include a “call-out box” to explain graduated dimensional standards for coverage maximums.
  • Section 1606.D – after lengthy discussion, members agreed to retain the minimum lot size of 15,000 square feet for a one-family dwelling in the High Density Residential District.
  • Section 1617.H – members suggested that additional examples with different roof pitches to clarify what is and is not allowed in the Historic Neighborhood District.
  • Section 1617.I – add an illustrated guide to show a garage as a dominant feature and one which is not.

Tim moved to have Shannon make the proposed changes agreed upon and authorize Shannon and Mel to finalize the proposed amendments and schedule a public hearing for February 5, 2018. The motion was seconded by John with all voting in favor.

Next the Planning Commission heard items of interest updates:

  • Transportation items update – Shannon reported the Addison County Regional Planning Commission Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) met on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 to discuss truck traffic in Vergennes. Mel added the members of the TAC voted unanimously to recommend VTrans pursue a bypass for VT Route 22A/Main Street in Vergennes. Mel reported he attended the public hearing on December 13, 2017 held by the Addison County Regional Planning Commission regarding their re-write of the Transportation Section. Their second public hearing, originally planned for January 10, 2018, will likely be held on February 14, 2018.
  • Stormwater items update – Shannon reported Dana Allen from Watershed Consulting Associates, LLC released a report making recommendations for preferred sites to be select for 30% design plans and landscape renderings. Claire Tebbs from Addison County Regional Planning Commission is setting up a meeting in January to finalize the selection process. After the meeting Shannon, Mike and Mel will report back to the Planning Commission on the results. Shannon added he would send the link containing the report to everyone.
  • Materials Management items update – No update
  • Energy Planning items update – No update

No new business was discussed.

The meeting adjourned at 9:45 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Mel Hawley, Clerk