SOUTH HERO PLANNING COMMISSION April 7, 2021
(Meeting via Zoom)
Members Present: Doug Patterson (Chair); Sandy Gregg (Vice-Chair); David Roy; Michele Gammal
Public Present: Ruth McGowan; Mark Sarrano (AmeriCorps/NRPC); Greta Brunswick (NRPC); Bob Fireovid; Emily Klofft (NRPC); Bridget Kerr; Martha Taylor-Varney (ZA)
6:00 PM – D. Patterson called the meeting to order.
Changes to the Agenda
There were none.
Bridget Kerr asked how the Commission members defined ‘Industrial’ and how the Development Regulations (Table 2.1 – Allowed Uses) had been changed to allow industrial uses in the South Hero Village District with Conditional Use and Site Plan review. She felt this was a big change. The Town website does not have the most recent (3/31/20) final draft of the Regulations posted. Greta Brunswick explained that all changes must go through the public hearing process – Planning Commission and Selectboard. The Planning Commission will decide a hearing schedule at upcoming meetings.
Discussion with NRPC on the 2023 Town Plan
As part of the Town’s contract with NRPC, there must be 2 consultations with the Town within the (now) 8-year period between Town Plan updates. Greta Brunswick considered this planning discussion for the 2023 Plan to be the second of those consultations. She had reviewed the current Town Plan (2015) for strengths, weaknesses, and where the focus needs to be. She suggested strengthening the sections on economic development, education, housing, accessory dwellings, accessory on-farm businesses, adding an enhanced energy plan, and reformatting the plan to make it shorter and easier to digest. She also recommended adding Community Health and Community Resilience to the Implementation section by including access to recreation and healthcare, promoting active lifestyles, community connectivity and walkability. D. Roy suggested considering studies for improved infrastructure and energy sustainability. Greta asked if the Commission wanted a simple update of the current Town Plan or a more comprehensive update with outside assistance. NRPC could provide some assistance for a smaller in-house update. A more comprehensive update would require a municipal planning grant. D. Patterson asked Greta for a budget from NRPC for both a minor and more comprehensive update. Greta agreed.
Options for American Recovery Act Funds
Emily Klofft reported that they haven’t received much detail yet about the Recovery Act funds but that the duration of the grant gave applicants a longer period of time than usual – until 2024 – to use any awarded funds. More guidance should be coming soon.
Accessory On-Farm Businesses
Emily Klofft discussed Act 143, which was passed by the Legislature in 2018. This Act allows municipalities to regulate accessory on-farm businesses (AOFBs) only through site plan review and the use of performance standards. Pre-existing non-conforming uses can continue. Emily recommended that the 2023 Town Plan include AOFB language. NRPC has funding to help Towns implement a model plan. Is South Hero interested in this assistance?
- Gregg moved that the South Hero Planning Commission is interested in assistance from NRPC in implementing a model AOFB plan; D. Roy second. All in favor.
Act 179, signed by the Governor on October 12, 2020, makes multiple changes to the State’s zoning laws related to accessory dwellings. This is an effort to further encourage accessory dwelling units for affordable housing and housing choice. Accessory Dwellings may now have more than 1 bedroom if there is sufficient wastewater capacity, and may not exceed 30% of the total habitable floor area of the single-family dwelling, or 900 square feet (whichever is greater). Additional changes include language about restrictions to developing smaller lots, review standards for dwellings consisting of four or fewer units, and the regulation of short-term rentals. The first 3 changes went into effect upon passage and supersede existing local regulations. However, these required changes to the Bylaws must still follow amendment procedures, requiring Planning Commission and Selectboard public hearings before the document can reflect the new language [go figure]. D. Patterson asked NRPC to clarify parking requirements for primary and accessory dwelling units.
Regulating Private Airfields and Heliports
Greta told the Commission that this is on NRPC’s radar and that simple language may be available soon. The State will not have any land use regulations related to private airfields and heliports, so the only land use regs will be on the municipal level.
- Gregg moved to accept the minutes from the March 17 meeting; M. Gammal second. All in favor.
- Gregg reported that the ‘pocket parks’ proposed for the Old White Meeting House and the Worthen Library will include community art projects supported by the Folsum School art teachers and local residents. She also told the Commission that the Old White Meeting House committee had applied for a $15 million grant through the Welch Community Project Fund. She invited the public to the next OWMH committee meeting to be held via Zoom at 4PM on April 22nd.
The Planning Commission agreed to continue meeting on Zoom on a month-to-month basis. The next meeting will be April 21, 2021. M. Gammal will be unable to attend. D. Patterson will be out of town but thinks he’ll be able to attend.
7:55PM – S. Gregg 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.