SOUTH HERO PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES December 21, 2022
Members Present: Sandy Gregg (Chair); Michele Gammal (Vice-Chair); David Roy; George Harwood.
Member Absent: Fred Bartle
Others Present: Joan Falcao; Bob Fireovid; Tim Maxham; (the following via Zoom) Anne Zolotas; Don Bedard; Mike Domenic; Cynthia Kelly; Bridgett Kerr; Bob Pekar; Greta Brunswick (NRPC); Nate Hayward; Martha Taylor-Varney (ZA).
6:00 PM – S. Gregg called the meeting to order.
Changes to the Agenda
There were none.
Public Comment on Anything Not on the Agenda
Joan Falcao presented the Commission with the complete survey that had been conducted door-to-door in the 2 Village Zoning Districts. Joan told the Commission members that the survey was conducted by herself, Bob Fireovid, Anne Quinn, and Phil Reynolds. Fifty-seven residents responded. Joan said that 65% of those responding did not know that the Development Regulations related to the villages had changed in 2020; 87% were not happy that there were no longer minimum lot sizes in the 2 new village districts. She said they preferred to return to the previous 1-acre minimum lot size in the villages and the ¾-acre minimum lot size in the areas of the villages that used to be in the Shoreland District [NOTE: the minimum lot size in the Shoreland District was never ¾ acre prior to the update of the Regulation in 2020. The minimum lot sizes there also were 1 acre. Zoning Administrator M. Taylor-Varney asked if that had been stated on the survey, because it was incorrect. A copy of the survey confirmed that this incorrect information had been included.] Joan also said that 92% of respondents wanted the setbacks distances to revert to those prior to 2020 (25 ft. for primary structures and 15 feet for accessory structures). In addition, there were concerns about building heights and green space. D. Roy reminded her that there had been public hearings and regular Planning Commission meetings at which the public was encouraged and welcome to be part of the process. Meetings are warned on the Town website and posted, and the public hearings had been well attended.
Draft Maps and Descriptions of Proposed Land Use in the Village Zoning Districts by NRPC
Greta Brunswick, of Northwest Regional Planning Commission, presented draft potential land use maps. She told the Commission members that these resulted from public input from the Village Vision Workshop held at the Worthen Library on September 7, 2022, and subsequent discussions. The draft changes include the size and scale of the existing village districts and the history of village center planning in both villages. The maps showed the districts further divided into “Village Core”, “Village Neighborhood”, and “areas under consideration”. The Village Core is proposed to be mixed-use; Village Neighborhood is proposed to be primarily residential, but with a higher density than the Rural Residential zoning district to allow for more housing; areas of the 2 village districts that had previously been in the Shoreland zoning district will revert to Shoreland. Greta stressed that this is a draft map that is open for discussion. [The maps and draft descriptions of Village Core and Village Neighborhood Planning Areas will be added as attachments to the minutes when posted on the Town website].
- Roy said that the maps addressed some of the concerns from the September Village Vision Workshop. He felt they create a better definition of the village zoning districts and that he was in favor of them. S. Gregg likes that they clearly delineate the village neighborhoods from the rural residential zoning districts. She still wants to look at minimum lot sizes in the village core area and is proposing ¼ acre. D. Roy stressed that septic capacity limits the impact of additional development within the villages. G. Harwood agreed with the proposal for ¼ acre minimum lot sizes in the village core. He’s concerned about light or low-impact industrial use. M. Gammal suggested referencing the performance standards [Sec. 508] to address the impact of light industrial uses within the village cores.
Additional discussion included the boundaries of the proposed Shoreland Districts and Village Core/Neighborhood Districts and how to delineate them, and whether minor adjustments are needed — how far up RT 314 should a Village Neighborhood district extend?; are there different visions for each village?; and parking standards.
Open to the Public
Joan Falcao stated that the Planning Commission must respond to the results of public feedback. S. Gregg responded that the proposals presented that evening by NRPC had done just that. Minimum lot sizes in the villages are now under discussion and the Commission is considering mailing a survey to all village residents and landowners. M. Gammal asked why, if so many village residents have been affected by the Development Regulations, they do not attend meetings? Joan said that pushback from the Board had been discouraging and again said that ¼ acre is too small in the village districts. She prefers that it revert to the original 1-acre minimum lot size. G. Harwood said that a survey must address the question of lot sizes to allow for greater density in commercial and residential areas, and to create a vibrant village. He reminded everyone that everything is limited by wastewater capacity.
Discussion will continue at the next PC Meeting.
- ARPA Committee update – Roy told the Commission that there was no update at this time.
- Wastewater Planning and Assessment Committee – Harwood had no update.
- South Hero Meeting House – Gregg reported that the cost estimates for renovating the Meeting House were much larger than anticipated.
- Open seat on Planning Commission – PC member Fred Bartle will be unavailable to attend meetings after February. Because he was unable to attend tonight, the Commission moved this discussion to the next meeting.
- Petition to greatly reduce the size of the Village Zoning Districts: presented by Bob Fireovid – The petition is asking that the village zoning districts be reduced in size to that of the current Village Center Designations. Gregg explained that, because of Articles approved at last year’s Town Meeting, the question goes to the voters. She reminded the public that the Regulations must reflect the Town Plan and asked why a change in Regulations would be requested at the same time the 2023 Town Plan was up for public vote? She asked Bob to reconsider the petition since the issues were already being addressed. D. Roy stated that the villages are going to change and need to be walkable. The Regulations are meant to foster smart village development — a walkable village that provides many of the needs of the community (shopping/post office/
recreation/employment/etc.). Joan Falcao responded that residents don’t want additional density in the villages.
- Harwood moved to accept the minutes of December 6, 2022; M. Gammal second. All in favor.
ZA Martha Taylor-Varney told the Commission that she had attended a grants management symposium in Montpelier with Treasurer Kim Julow on December 8th. There was discussion about when the recently awarded sidewalk scoping study grant would begin. The grant was awarded in October 2022 and would continue until October 2024. S. Gregg will contact Ashley Andrews, the VTrans coordinator for the grant, to ask when the first project meeting can be scheduled.
The next meeting of the Planning Commission will be January 4, 2023 at 6PM, to be held at the Town Office and via Zoom.
7:39PM – D. Roy moved to adjourn; G. Harwood 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.
**For a link to a recording of the full meeting, contact Martha Taylor-Varney at [email protected] or 372-4841