SOUTH HERO PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES November 16, 2022
This meeting was only held via Zoom, due to weather.
Members Present: Sandy Gregg (Chair); George Harwood; Fred Bartle
Members Absent: Michele Gammal (Vice-Chair); David Roy
Others present: Martha Taylor-Varney (ZA); Anne Zolotas; Donald Bedard; Phil Reynolds; Joan Falcao; Bob Fireovid; Russ Stratton; Anne Quinn.
6:11 PM – S. Gregg opened the meeting.
Changes to the Agenda
There were none.
Joan Falcao told the Board that the Planning Commission’s survey in Summer 2022 hadn’t been specific enough regarding the village zoning districts. She presented the results of a survey she conducted in the South Hero and Keeler Bay Village Zoning Districts. She told the commission members that there were concerns about density, reduced setbacks, increases in allowed building heights, and the lack of greenspace requirements. S. Gregg reminded her that village greenspace percentages are calculated by the DRB as part of conditional use review, per Sec. 206.D in the Development Regulations. Survey statements about the lack of required greenspace in the village zoning districts were incorrect. The survey was conducted door-to-door, and they received responses from 57 people. Additional comments from the survey included that South St. should remain residential, to keep the town small, that the vision for the villages should be that they remain residential, and that the Town should have voted on the Regulations rather than the Selectboard. She said that the Town Plan should reflect these concerns. Bridget Kerr commented that the survey received more responses than the Commission’s online survey this past summer. Fred Bartle said that he felt the Town Plan is meant to be a broad overview of the Town rather than specifics that are more applicable to the Development Regulations. He was curious as to why more people responded to this survey than to the Commission’s. He said it is good that people shared their concerns, but the Selectboard is elected to represent the interests of the Town, and people with concerns should make those know to the Selectboard so its vote can reflect them. Now all changes to the Regulations and approval of the Town Plan must be voted on by the Town. Those voters will be more than just Village residents. Joan Falcao said that she thought it was appropriate to include in the Town Plan that the Village residents don’t like the changes in the Regulations related to density in the village zoning districts. S. Gregg said that the Town Plan can include a statement that there are concerns about the Development Regulations as they relate to the Village Zoning Districts. Donald Bedard commented that requiring the voters to approve the Town Plan and any changes to the Regulations is going to be slow and will confuse people. [The full survey and detailed results are included as an attachment at the end of the meeting minutes on the Town website.]
Continue 2023 Town Plan Discussion
- Schedule: NRPC has indicated that they prefer to present the complete document draft to the Board for its review rather than sections at a time. The attending commission members expressed that they’d rather be able to review the draft chapter by chapter, as they are ready, but agreed to wait until the next meeting when all members are present before deciding. Gregg commented that the end date for completion and adoption of the Plan has remained unchanged and she doesn’t want any delay beyond August. If not adopted by August 2023, the current Plan will continue, but until a new Plan is adopted – requiring yet another Town vote — the Town will not be eligible for any planning grants. This could be a financial hit to the town. The schedule indicates review of the entire document in March, and the first public hearing is scheduled for May 17. S. Gregg encouraged members of the public to participate in these reviews.
- The Selectboard will be discussing the procedure, scheduling requirements, and costs of a special election for the Town Plan at their November 28 meeting.
- Resource List: A resource section with links will be added to the Plan and will also be included on the Town website. Harwood stated that the United Way does a good job identifying organizations and he recommended that the Commission consult their list for additional links that might not have been considered. S. Gregg recommended looking at Housingdata.org for great information on housing statistics.
- Table of Contents: No changes to previous list.
- Photos: Gregg put a notice on Front Porch Forum asking for photos to include in the Plan. Joan Falcao said she had sent some of the July 4th parade.
- ARPA – The Selectboard is evaluating recommendations presented to them by PC member David Roy.
- Wastewater Assessment Committee – Harwood reported that engineers working for the committee, accompanied by Tim Maxham and Bob Krebs, have identified 8 possible locations for septic. Letters have been sent to landowners to weigh possible interest in selling or donating the parcels (although donation is not anticipated). Test pits can be dug as soon as permission is granted. George explained that these would be small community (shared) systems and that there would be no discharge into the lake. The plan is to prioritize both replacing failed systems and reducing the number of systems in a particular area.
- Meeting House committee – Gregg told the commission that the Selectboard will be including an article for Town Meeting to apply for a $1.2 million bond for the complete renovation of the meeting house. The taxpayer impact is anticipated to be $15 per every $100,000 in valuation. It will be a 20-year bond. Sandy said it would be a considerable saving to do the work all at once, rather than in parts. The South Hero Foundation is also still looking for additional donors.
There was none.
- Harwood moved to approve the minutes from October 19, 2022; F. Bartle second. All in favor.
- Does the Board want to meet on December 21st? The Commission will decide at their first meeting in December.
- NRPC will be hosting another forum on Housing on Thursday, November 17, from 5:30 to 7:30PM. The meeting will be at the St. Albans City Hall, but a Zoom option is available. ZA Martha Taylor-Varney is unable to attend, but Gregg and G. Harwood asked that the link to the meeting be forwarded to them.
The next meeting will be December 7, 2022 at 6PM.
7:29 PM – G. Harwood moved to adjourn; F. Bartle 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.