SOUTH HERO PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES July 1, 2020
Meeting held via Zoom
Members Present: Doug Patterson (Chair); Sandy Gregg (Vice-Chair); David Roy; Michele Gammal; Jonathan Shaw
Public Present: Tom and Mary Evslin; Bill Rowe; Brigitte Barrette; Larry Dubin; Peter and Bari Dreissigacker; Gareth Hunt; Matthew Reed; The Islander (Tonya Poutry); Mike Donoghue; Bridget Kerr; Martha Taylor-Varney (ZA)
6PM: Doug Patterson called the meeting to order.
Changes to the Agenda
There were none.
Public Hearing – Does South Hero Need a Junk Ordinance?
Doug Patterson explained that the Planning Commission is doing something new by bringing ideas before the public for comment and feedback to help the Commission determine if there are proposals for regulations or ordinances that may need further consideration or study. The issue for discussion at this evening’s meeting is a junk ordinance. He explained that the discussion at this meeting would not be about specific instances or situations, but whether there is a need for a junk ordinance or not.
Sandy Gregg said she thought the Town needs to be proactive, to have something in place before it is needed. David Roy agreed but, although there had not been many terrible situations in South Hero, there was a need to prepare for what may happen down the road. Michele Gammal felt that having an ordinance would give the Town something in place should it be needed in the future. Jonathan Shaw said that the Selectboard’s stand on the issue was that if there was no problem then there should be no ordinance. Complaints up to this point have been dealt with by the State. A junk ordinance would be hard to apply equally and could create an economic bias. The best way to deal with a junk situation is to talk with the person involved. The Town needs to avoid the risk of lawsuits. Doug Patterson felt there needed to be something in place that is enforceable.
- Tom and Mary Evslin felt there should be an ordinance. What should it cover? Mary remarked that VSA 24 [State statute] does not eliminate small junkyards. She invited the Planning Commission to visit their property. She was also concerned about the effect junk can have on the water/wetlands, and that it could be a fire hazard. The road they live on is difficult for emergency services vehicles to access.
- Bill Rowe was in favor of something enforceable. It should be done carefully.
- Peter and Bari Dreissigacker have googled other VT towns’ ordinances and wondered how to enforce them. She said the State is reluctant to get involved with small issues. The definition of ‘junk’ needs to be addressed.
- Gareth Hunt said an ordinance needs to be considered where the State or neighbors’ intervention has not worked. There needs to be some form of enforcement. The costs are low when a junk issue is small but there is a high cost of correcting a larger problem that affects neighborhoods. The Town must be able to do respond, but it doesn’t have the means currently. If the Town could act sooner, the problem would not be able to get large and out of hand.
- Larry Dubin said he is in full support for an ordinance for the same reasons as Gareth. Enforcement may be an issue. Need to be able to act when the problem is small to avoid the larger one.
- Brigitte Barrette asked what the definition of junk is. She had to get rid of junk on her property after she bought it. She was concerned about the effect of junk on the environment. She is in favor of a junk ordinance.
- Matt Reed said he was in favor of a junk ordinance. The issue may be to keep it out of sight. He doesn’t want to restrict all things, but perhaps keeping it behind a fence rather than forcing removal could be considered.
Doug Patterson thanked the public for their input. The Planning Commission will continue to review this issue and it will appear on future agendas. He thanked the public for their participation.
Continue Discussion on Definition of “Industrial”
Michele Gammal gave the Commission members 2 printouts – Industrial Building Types Matrix, and the Dictionary of Real Estate Appraisal (Industrial) — with definitions of Industry. In the Matrix, David Roy liked the definition under ‘General Purpose Flex’ – R&D, Cold Storage, Office, Lab, Light Manufacturing, High-tech, Data or Call Center. He said that currently Table 2.1 (allowed Uses) does not allow industry in the Village Zoning Districts. But considerations need to include scale. Should the DRB be able to review whether a proposal would be an allowed use? He felt Flex Industry opportunities should be considered. Doug Patterson does not want to ban small industry. He feels ‘Industry’ needs to be better defined. Jonathan Shaw was concerned that some existing businesses within the South Hero Zoning District might meet the current definition of industry because they could be considered manufacturing. Sandy Gregg emphasized the need to consider scale. Jonathan Shaw asked what the objection was to a larger building? The size of the lot should be factored in when considering the size of the building. David Roy agreed and felt that this should be part of a DRB review. Doug Patterson felt that the goal was not to set strict limits but to provide guidance to the ZA and the DRB. Jonathan Shaw said they needed to be careful that the regulations do not preclude something that is needed in the Village Districts (i.e. infrastructure). Bridget Kerr said that, as a resident of the Village District, she wants to live in a place that is in human scale and would enhance the village.
Additional discussion included the definition of ‘storage facility’ and ‘Accessory Uses.’ ‘Accessory Uses’ is in Table 2.1 under the designation for Commercial Uses. The Table shows Accessory Uses to be permitted (P) with a zoning permit in all zoning districts. The Commission agreed that this should be conditionally permitted with site plan review (C/S).
Sandy Gregg moved to request the Selectboard approve a change of review requirements for ‘Accessory Uses’ in Table 2.1 from P to C/S; David Roy second. All in favor.
David Roy moved to approve the minutes from June 17, 2020; Michele second. All in favor.
There was none.
- Martha reminded the Commission members that the June 29, 2020 NRPC newsletter has 2 surveys (Transportation and Northern VT Economic Development Goals) that they are requesting members to fill out.
- The July 15th PC meeting will include the annual reorganization meeting for the Commission and an update to the Rules of Procedure that will include the new meeting hours approved earlier this year.
- The Commission will discuss the rest of the summer meeting schedule at the July 15 meeting.
7:26PM – Sandy Gregg moved to adjourn; Michele Gammal second. All in favor.
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.