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Meeting Minutes - PC

Town of Leicester
Leicester Planning Commission & Selectboard
Public Forum Meetings
Leicester Meeting House
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
** See subsequent minutes for any changes
Members Present: Peter Fjeld, Donna Swinington, Jeff McDonough, Bill Shouldice
Others Present:  Diane Benware, Ron Fiske, David Atherton, Cecile Todd, Sandra Trombley, Secretary
Meeting called to order at 5:35 p.m. with roll call.
#1 Reviewing Proposed Language Changes to Zoning By-laws Related To Commercial Activity in Town:
Explanations of Definitions:
There was discussion of the different classifications of businesses.  Home-based cottage industry and home-based occupation.  A home-based occupation would not need a permit.  Home-based cottage industry would need a conditional use permit.
In rural areas, some businesses start out as home-based occupations and then over time grow into a home-based business.  Peter explained that they need to put some guidelines in place to address these issues.
Diane stated that there are businesses in town that don’t conform and we need to find a way to bring them into compliance.  Once the zoning by-laws are adopted, people will need to follow the rules and go forward from there.
David asked if they are trying to make this retroactive.  Peter explained that they are talking about having conditional use permits with existing non-complying businesses that will step forward and deal with it and then there would be a level playing field.  The Board may set some conditions for some businesses, but can come to some resolutions.
Diane explained that a statute in 24 VSA gives the town the authority to bring those people into the fold.  There is the flexibility.  They want to help make them be more compliant.  They are looking for advice how to do this.
Peter explained they want to change the definitions to be clear.
Cecile asked about junk. 
Ron explained we have a junk ordinance.
Diane explained they recently had a conversation with the Sheriff’s Department.  The Sheriff’s Department is paid thru a grant to deal with junk and will enforce our junk ordinance.
Cecile gave a scenario about a home-based occupation for discussion.
Cecile asked if they were going to have more meetings.
Diane explained there will be two more public meetings; one on the development of slopes and the other on performance standards.  The Shoreland act may have an impact on the slopes; as well.
Cecile explained that she once did chair caning and had a little sign outside on the lawn.  This would be a home occupation.  The Board was in agreement that this was a home-based occupation.
Bill explained that the whole issue is to make life easier for the residents and stop the ability for someone to point the finger at the other guy for doing this or that without a permit; and we can say, “not anymore, so therefore, you need a permit”.
Peter explained that the person with a home office is not the issue; it’s the garage, factory business, maintenance business, excavation business.
David asked about whether we had an Economic Development Plan.  Peter mentioned in Brandon there are some spaces for development; in Leicester he doesn’t know of any other than old dairy barns.
The Town Zoning Map was reviewed.
There was discussion about the guidelines for the process of being in compliance.   
Diane highlighted some topics that came up for future discussions:
  • Do you need a permit to find that pamphlet

  • David will find out more information about using the State permit as our permit

  • Industry zone and incubator space

  • Preparing for abandoned dairy barns as business sites


    David feels he’s very personable. Suggestion to send out an informational letter to everyone in Leicester explaining what we are doing and why we are doing it; with an invitation to stop in and talk with David about their individual situations.


    Motion by Bill to adjourn Meeting #1 at 6:30 p.m.


    #2 Susan Warren of VT DEC to Provide Public Information Session Regarding Vermont Shoreland Protection Act and Its Impact on Lakes in Area:


    At 7:02 p.m. Susan Warren, DEC Program Manager was introduced by Diane. There were many lake residents attending.


    Susan provided handouts of The Vermont Shoreland Protection Act 172 Version 1.1 of the Handbook.


    Susan provided an overview and explained the purpose of the Bill:

  • Protect existing wooded shores

  • Protect water quality, habitat and bank stability

  • Promote lake friendly development & redevelopment

  • Clear and flexible standards for all parcels

  • Exempt any existing uses


    If someone is anticipating new building, new clearing they need to come in and see if they need a permit or not.


    Susan explained the lakeside zone and upland zone. The Act applies to all lakes > 10 acres. There are 4 main areas of the standards.

                1. The 20% Slope Standard: trying to keep development off from steep slopes

                            - Best Management Practices if > 20%

                2. The 20% Impervious Area Standard

                            - Best Management Practices if > 20%

                3. The 40% Cleared Area Standard

                            - Best Management Practices if > 40%

                4. The Vegetation Management Standards - Wooded Area Standard

                            - Counting Trees


    Susan stated that the Act does allow people to remove dead, dying or dangerous trees without a permit. It allows people to use the Vegetation Management Standard to identify trees for thinning within the lakeside area without a permit. It allows the pruning of the lower third of branches on trees.


    One gentleman asked about his property that has many trees, and the slope is such that it’s the big ones that block his view. The height is blocking the view.


    Susan stated that the Act doesn’t allow trees to be topped. She stated that since the Act allows any existing practices to continue, that he could continue if that is how it has been managed up to July 1st. Since they are allowing the maintenance of other vegetation management like lawns or gardens, cedar hedge, she is assuming he could continue with that practice where it’s going on right now. He would not need a permit. On new development, they would have to look at the situation.


    Susan showed a few examples of what the standards look like in practice.


    A question was asked by Lynne Peck about tearing down a camp and moving it farther back from the lake; whether you need a permit. Susan stated that if you are tearing down a camp, but moving it back from the lake, you still need a permit. If you are using the exact same footprint, you do not need a permit.


    If a septic system fails and a new system is designed and permitted, it would be an exemption.


    A question was asked if you have an existing camp or house and have traditionally pruned and trimmed then you are exempt. She is used to thinning out a certain area each year.


    Susan stated that the way she has been managing it prior to July 1st, she can continue doing that. Best practices can continue.


    A permit process called a registration allows two projects people can do once on the parcel. The State has 15 days to approve it.

  • Creation of less than or equal to 100 sq feet impervious surface, such as a gazebo or shed, located 25 feet back from mean water level
  • Less than or equal to 500 sq feet of new clearing or impervious surface at least 100 feet from the mean water level
    Permit is required for anything that is not exempt, things that don’t qualify for registration, any new clearing within 250 feet from the lakeshore.
    Bill asked Susan for clarification on roads that bisect properties.
    Susan explained the Act says that if your property is bisected by a state or town road, a public road, the standards only apply to the part of your property on the lakeside of the road. If your property is bisected by a private road or shared private road, that exemption does not apply. The surface of a shared private road does not count against you in terms of impervious area on your parcel.
    There are Shoreland Project Worksheets on the State’s web-site.   Google vtanr or vtdec. There are new links that will take you to the Shoreland permit process. Susan stated they would be glad to help anyone needing help. Milly Archer is another resource to call at their office.
    They are working toward a joint permit process. A municipality that has a functionally equivalent ordinance to the state standards can apply for a delegation agreement. The town could ask the department for help with enforcement. At any time, municipalities can adopt or improve their shoreland zoning in order to be eligible for delegation.
    Lynn Peck asked if Leicester was one of the towns that applied. Leicester is not one of the towns. Towns can change their mind at any time to apply for delegation or remove themselves from delegation.
    Lynne Peck asked about permit fees. The registration fee is $100. The Permit administrative fee is $125 and $0.50 per square foot of proposed impervious area. When they get a complete application it is put on a 30 day public notice; assuming no comments come in or any issues or concerns, they should be able to issue the permit shortly after/around 35-40 days.
    Vegetation under three feet cannot be cleared unless it is invasive or nuisance; such as poison ivy, nettles.
    There was discussion about who would be more restrictive; town or state. Susan encourages talking with them before completing the application process.
    Susan stated that if you have an existing approved permit or completed/submitted before July 1st, you can go ahead after July 1st without a shoreland permit.
    Motion by Peter to adjourn Meeting #2 at 8:09 p.m.
    Respectfully submitted,
    Sandra L. Trombley
    Leicester Town Secretary