Welcome to Leicester, VT

A Great Place to Live

Meeting Minutes - PC

Town of Leicester
 Planning Commission Meeting
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
** See subsequent minutes for any changes
Members Present:  Peter Fjeld, Sue Stroud-Speyers, Jeff McDonough, Lynn Bisbee
Absent:  Donna Swinington, Bill Shouldice
Others Present:  Kate Briggs, ZA, Jim Ellefson, Leslie Wright, Andrew Menkart, Suki Fredericks, Diane Benware, Catlin Fox & Sandra Trombley, Secretary
Meeting called to order at 6:37 p.m. with roll call. 
Zoning Regulation Revisions:
Kate talked about the core of Leicester’s zoning regulations and provided the regulations to everyone.  Article II talks about the zoning district, setbacks, and uses and is scrambled around and hard to read.  It needs to be reformatted.  Kate is working on charts.
For our next meeting in June, Kate would like to chart what we have and then chart what we suggest as changes.  This is really the heart and soul of the zoning regulations.  Definitions need to be better defined.
Kate brought the board up-to-date on the environment court issue regarding the boat house.
Public Comment:
Express Concerns of Gas Line Issue & Town Plan:
Kate recommended that citizens come to express their concerns directly about possible revisions to our Town Plan to protect our organic farming and infrastructure.
Jim Ellefson spoke that he was at this meeting because he is not happy about the gas pipeline.  He stated he was fearful of this incredibly polluting; toxic monster is going to come through the town.  He bought the Cerf property about five years ago.
Lynn Bisbee stated she needs to hear about the concerns to take back to ACRP.
Peter’s concern is that we should be sure we have appropriate wording in the plan that is useful and can be used.
Suki Fredericks stated that the VT Gas people specifically said they try to accommodate what they can in town plans.  It is a great guideline of what you can put into your town plan to have a protective format if there is a situation in town.
Peter stated it is his understanding that the current location of the pipeline is now in the Town of Cornwall.
Diane responded that VT Gas made their selection of that route, but that doesn’t mean that Cornwall will accept it.  It can still default down here.  Phase III does go through Leicester.  There are three different routes for Leicester.
Suki stated that the hope was that we could tweak the Town Plan to include some language about 300’ setbacks within homes and wells, not taking down existing trees without prior permission, language about organic farms, sensitive lands like our wetlands.  The other piece is no imminent domain.  The hope was to just tweak it and add some sensible, protective language to infrastructure and not do a full reform.
Lynn thinks putting something in the Town Plan now is a very good idea.
Andrew Menkart spoke that there are so many burdens the town can take on by having the pipeline.  Safety is a big burden.  He explained a scenario of one of his neighbors from Pittsburgh where there was a gas explosion.  It lit up the night sky.  People from far away tried to come to see what it was, people close by tried to get away.  It caused gridlock.  None of the first responders could get there to fight the fire or shut off the valves.  He could see that happening here.  Leicester has a limited number of roads.  He asked who our first responders would be.  Would it be Salisbury Fire Department, Brandon Fire Department?  He wondered if it would be like the fertilizer explosion in East Texas where the first responders are unprepared.  They get killed, bravely trying to fight the fire.  It’s all the burdens Leicester would take on, with no benefit.  The businesses here are farms and they are not going to benefit from the gas; and potentially losing organic certification. 
Leslie Wright stated that it’s very hard to measure how it would affect property values.
There is a proposed PIG Station (pressure station) in Leicester Junction.  Suki was told by someone who deals with this on a regular basis in other states, that Leicester does not want a pressure station in town. 
Lynn talked about mysterious cancers in South Carolina that traced back to the gas pipeline.
Suki had case studies.
Kate asked how to focus and come up with very specific language or proposal relevant to the Town Plan. 
Peter thinks Cornwall’s Town Plan is pretty well written and if everybody had the same thing, it would be a pretty powerful document.
Organic farming could go under agricultural resources and economic development.  It’s additional leverage for the town.
Suki will submit the piece to Kate.  Kate will work on this with Board direction.  We could get maps from ACRP of buffer zones and organic properties.  Edits and proposals to Kate by June 5th.
Catlin Fox spoke that if it wasn’t for the organic market, they would dry up and blow away.  He has been feeling particularly vulnerable lately by the fact that it is beyond his control.  He is delighted to hear that this is being discussed in the Town Plan.  As far as the pipeline goes, he would love to know that the town is on his side.  His son is in college now and he wants to farm in a grander way than his parents and whether he could realize his ambition in Leicester, he doesn’t know.  It’s yet to be seen.  If he does, I would like to know that the town likes the idea.
Kate spoke that this should be addressed in the Town Plan and was an oversight.  If agriculture does have a future in Leicester, it is organic farming.
Next meeting is June 12, 2013.
Motion by Jeff and second by Lynn to adjourn at 7:26 p.m.  All in favor.  So approved.
Respectfully submitted,
Sandra L. Trombley, PC Secretary