SOUTH HERO PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES April 20, 2022
Members Present: Sandy Gregg (Chair); Michele Gammal (Vice-Chair); David Roy; George Harwood (via Zoom); Fred Bartle
Public Present: Kathy Magill; Emily Klofft (NRPC); Andy Julow (Champlain Islands Economic Development Corporation); David Hobbs; Joan Falcao; Tim Maxham; Martha Taylor-Varney (ZA).
6:00 PM – S. Gregg called the meeting to order.
Changes to the Agenda
There were none.
There was none.
VOREC (Vermont Outdoor Recreation) Grant Discussion
Andy Julow of Grand Isle County Economic Development Corporation explained to the Commission that a VOREC grant had been awarded to GICEDC in partnership with the South Hero Land Trust, Local Motion, and NRPC for $99,726. The objective of the grant is to plan pedestrian and bicycle routes. This could benefit businesses as well as provide advantages for residents and students in South Hero. The grant will also address user behavior and facilities as part of a comprehensive plan. The grant will include ideas for implementation in later grants. Public feedback will be sought during the first summer of the grant period. The feedback will be primarily local. D. Roy suggested that Andy talk with Nate Hayward to possibly coordinate re proposed Town Park facilities. S. Gregg suggested that the VOREC group attend the two 2023 Town Plan events scheduled for this summer (6/27 and 8/22) that will also include the Old Meeting House and Rec Commission to get public feedback. Andy agreed to attend. Andy explained that the plan for this grant will create a model in South Hero for others to use.
- Gregg asked that the need for re-painting of shoulders and crosswalks in South Hero by Memorial Day be included in the minutes.
VT AOT Bike and Pedestrian Program Grant
There will be a webinar on April 29 from 10 to 11:30 with information about the first phase (scoping). The Town’s goal for this grant application will be sidewalks, not bikes, in the Village Zoning Districts on both sides of the road on RT 2 and on South St. in South Hero Village district to the school. The grant application is due by the end of May. David Hobbs said he would be attending the webinar. G. Harwood asked if it was also worth focusing the application on RT 314. It is too late to include in the current work underway at RTs 2 and 314. If South Hero is awarded a grant, would NRPC take it over for the Town? Emily Klofft will check and let the Commission know. Will the Rec Commission’s Trail Committee be part of this? Not this grant. D. Hobbs suggested that multi-purpose trails may be appropriate for this. It was suggested that there be a grass strip between the road and the sidewalk to prevent plowed snow from covering the sidewalks in the winter. ZA Martha Taylor-Varney suggested that development along RT 2 and South St. require sidewalk easements I the Site Plan requirements to allow for construction of future sidewalks.
Continue 2023 Town Plan discussion – De-Brief Stakeholders’ discussions
Northwest Regional Planning Commission prepared notes from each stakeholders’ meeting (Village Streetscape/Complete Streets/Recreation and Trails; Housing and Transportation; Water Quality; and Equity and Inclusion. S. Gregg commented that she especially liked CIDER’s suggestion to use the term ‘community transportation’ rather than ‘public transportation.’ Sandy asked that the Commission members review the 4 reports and highlight terms that they feel are important to include in the Plan. Emily Klofft said that these will be used as guides to pull out potential themes for the Town’s vision in the Plan. M. Gammal asked if there had been enough public input for the Commission to start identifying themes ad preferred to wait until there was more public input after the June and August public events. D. Roy agreed. Sandy also asked that the Commission members note what may not have appeared in the NRPC note, which she could add as an addendum.
ARPA Committee Update
- Roy reported that the ARPA survey will go live on April 21st. It will be advertised in the Islander and on Front Porch Forum, as well as a link on the Town website. S. Gregg suggested that it be on both the home page and under the ARPA designation in Departments. Hard copies will be available at the Town Office and the Library. There was discussion about whether there were ways to prevent ‘ballot stuffing.’ Dave was unaware if there are any at this time.
Wastewater Planning and Assessment Committee Update
- Harwood told the Board that Otter Creek Associates had been chosen to conduct the study and had agreed to conduct up to 30% of the work before the contract was officially signed and the grant funds made available. It has been determined that there is very little land in the villages for septic systems – even multi-user systems. It has been difficult to find appropriate soils. A survey of landowners in the village areas only will be conducted for now. The surveys are included on the NRPC-sponsored website and also on the South Hero town website. The next meeting of the committee will be April 25th at 4:30. The meeting will be Zoom only.
- David Hobbs will send website information to Sandy for School Safety Zones. Should these be included as a goal in the Town Plan?
- The Champlain Islands Farmers Market sent a letter inviting the Town of South Hero to become a sponsor. A $100 donation will allow the Planning Commission to attend 3 times throughout the summer to garner public comment on the 2023 Plan.
- There was discussion about the questions to include in the Town Plan survey, being put together by S. Gregg, M. Gammal, and Joan Falcao. A draft will be sent to Commission members for comment before the next meeting. Additional discussion included whether to include a question about the lack of minimum lot sizes in the village zoning districts. Because of the recent Articles at Town Meeting requiring a vote for any changes to the Regulations, this requirement in the Regulations cannot be easily or quickly changed. M. Gammal expressed concerns that case specific questions should not be include in the survey. G. Harwood felt that there was nothing wrong with having no minimum lot sizes in the villages. There is a need to address room for growth and concentration of services. The minimum lot size and district size are appropriate questions. How would these be worded? D. Roy and M. Gammal both agreed that the survey be pared down and kept simple. The goal is to have no more than 10 questions and a comments section at the end. Joan Falcao asked if the survey should address housing for seasonal workers. Also, adding the question: if community (public) transportation were available, would it be used regularly? Sandy will prepare a clean copy for the Commission to review at the next meeting.
- Additional discussion included the definition of ‘light industry’ and suggestions of the types of businesses not currently in the Islands – car wash, pharmacy, funeral home.
- Bartle moved to approve the minutes from April 6, 2022, with corrections; M. Gammal second. All in favor.
Nothing at this time.
- Bartle moved to adjourn; D. Roy second. All in favor.
Martha Taylor-Varney, ZA
Signed: __________________________________________ Date: _______________________
For the Planning Commission
These minutes are unofficial until approved at the next regularly scheduled meeting. All motions were unanimous unless otherwise indicated.