January 5, 2022 Planning Commission Minutes

SOUTH HERO PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES                                          January 5, 2022


Members/Staff Present: Doug Patterson (Chair); Sandy Gregg (Vice-Chair, via Zoom); David Roy; Michele Gammal (via Zoom); George Harwood (via Zoom); Martha Taylor-Varney (ZA).

Public Present: Greta Brunswick (NRPC); Bob Buermann; Bridget Kerr (via Zoom); Tim Maxham.


6:00 PM — D. Patterson called the meeting to order.


Changes to the Agenda

There were none.


Public Comment

There was none.


Accessibility Waiver

Bob Buermann and Doug Patterson offered language for an accessibility waiver to be added to local exemptions in Section 301.E.2.  This will waive the requirement for the access structure (usually a ramp) to meet zoning requirements and will be limited to structures less than 350sf in area.  The waiver is proposed only for residential dwellings. Bob also included a sample sketch showing the typical ramp footprint.  Martha will present to the Selectboard for consideration to approve.


2023 Town Plan – Next Steps

Greta Brunswick of NRPC presented the Commission with a work plan, including tasks and a total budget ($17,650), in addition to a draft form of a Roadmap including community outreach, public meetings, etc.  This will be finalized in February.  She explained that the Commission needs to identify 3 key themes for the report.  These themes can each include several related subjects.  NRPC will prepare a contract for the Selectboard to approve and sign.  Greta asked if the Planning Commission could prepare a presentation at Town Meeting as part of outreach? Greta also suggested considering a school project based on a 2019 Fairfield project that included school students as part of the community outreach.  Sandy agreed to assist Greta in considering a similar project at Folsum.

Sandy Gregg suggested posting the roadmap on the Town’s website. NRPC will create a project website.  Michele Gammal stressed that the Commission needs to publicize community involvement.  Public committees will be considered sub-committees of the Planning Commission. Would the Trails Committee be interested in taking part?


Finalize Update to Sec. 703 – Fences

The updated language simplified the section, clarified wording, and made the section more straightforward and less open to interpretation. The Commission decided to recommend Fences remain in the Regulations rather than as an Ordinance. The edits will include deleting Fences from local exemptions in Sec. 301.E.2.  There will be no changes to the fence definition in Article 10.  The final draft will be presented to the Selectboard with the recommendation that it be approved as a simple change to the Development Regulations.


Continue review of proposed minor correction to the Development Regulations

This is continued to the next meeting.


ARPA Committee update

The next meeting will be Jan. 6 at 7PM.  It was suggested to add the committee as a sub-committee of the PC to the Town website and to include the names of the committee members.


Wastewater Committee Update

George Harwood reported to the PC that Greta Brunswick is assisting the committee in applying for a State Resolving Fund Grant.  There is no deadline for application, although the committee wants to apply as soon as possible as funding is limited.  The next meeting of the committee is Monday, Jan 10, 2022 at 4:30.


Update 2022 Rules of Procedures

The Commission moved this to the July organizational meeting when new terms begin.


Meeting Minutes

David Roy moved to accept the minutes from December 15, 2021; Sandy Gregg second.  All in favor.


Administrator’s Report

  1. Martha Taylor-Varney discussed proposed Articles for Town Meeting that will require Australian ballot for the approval of any changes/amendments to the Development Regulations and for approval of future Town Plans.  The website supports voter approval for both Articles.  The website includes incorrect maps for proposed Village Zoning Districts identified in the 2015 Town Plan – the maps are instead of the Village Center Designations, which is a State designation created to increase eligibility for State grants.  There was concern from the Commission members that the information on this website presented as ‘fact’ could be misleading.  Sandy Gregg asked who created the website and is concerned about the lack of transparency. There are no names attached to the website.  There was also concern that the use of a photo of the South Hero Town Office on the website makes it appear to be an official Town website.
  2. The next Commission meeting is on January 19 at 6PM.



7:30 PM – Sandy Gregg moved to adjourn; Michele Gammal second.  All in favor.


Respectfully submitted,

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.