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Meeting Minutes

Joint Meeting
Planning Commission & Selectboard
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
6:00 P.M.
** See subsequent minutes for any changes
Members Present: Chair Donna Swinington, Peter Fjeld, Diane Benware, Ron Fiske, Ken Young and Brad Lawes came later.
Members Absent: Bill Shouldice, Jeff McDonough, Tom Barker
Others Present: Sandra Trombley, Secretary and Mary Anne Sullivan came later.
Call to Order/Roll Call:
Meeting called to order at 6:08 p.m. by Chair of Selectboard.
No quorum for Planning Commission to approve July 14, 2015 minutes.
Diane turned the meeting over to Ron for the working session of zoning by-laws.
Working Session on Zoning By-Law Revisions:
Ron explained that what the Selectboard is looking for is clarity, legal issues and public understanding. The ZA has to interpret and enforce all the rules. The less complicated it is, the better.
Mary Anne and Ron went over the old zoning regulations last week to try to determine what the matter with it was and they didn’t come up with a whole lot. The worry about the Poultney zoning template is that is jumps you all around.
Peter didn’t think it jumps you around if someone owns a lot in a particular district.
Ron explained he was thinking about it; as Mary Anne has to apply it. If someone comes in and asks her a question, it jumps from this page, to this page. It gets complicated. They know what needs to be tweeked. Over the years, they go way back and they know what’s wrong with the zoning regulations. Ron feels they are throwing out our zoning.
Peter stated he wished they had come two years ago. They didn’t change the districts; they didn’t change the setbacks or the uses.
Donna stated that the current regulations don’t have the legal jargon that is necessary. There are a lot of areas we don’t have, that we need.
Donna stated that they have spent an exorbitant amount of time on this. They used this template because it had already been approved through Rutland Regional Planning and legal review.
Ron stated that it had been altered so much that it will need to go to legal review again. A lot was thrown out.
Diane brought up that in the section about the different zones that all the information was on one page whereas; in the new document there is information in different sections. Mary Anne was concerned that she would miss something. Some is content, but some is format and harder to use.
Ron mentioned that he and Mary Anne worked on definitions and Julie helped. The public needs to be able to understand the document.
Ken mentioned the PC has gone above and beyond, but was concerned about a 30-40 page zoning regulation document going to a 70-80 page zoning regulation document. He had concerns regarding some of the wording. He thought our current zoning had served the town well.
Donna mentioned that they had revised the Town Plan and the PC is supposed to do rules and regulations to follow the Town Plan.
Peter stated that they had spun their wheels for a whole year for several reasons.
Donna stated that every time the PC tried to do something else, and try to make progress, they were pulled back. So that is when they decided to find something that had already been approved and go over it.
Peter said there were a bunch of things that were undefined that will need to be defined.
Peter said they could just use the old plan, he doesn’t really care.
Donna asked why they went to all the time and energy and get grants.
Ron said the grant was primarily for the printing expenses.
Peter stated that if Ron and Mary Anne want to rewrite it again, feel free.
Donna stated that the PC is not involved. They have worked on this for two years now, night after night, 2-3 hours at a time.
Ron said it’s not just him that has concerns, but others; as well. He said they brought this up before.
Diane mentioned that no matter what document is used, that definitions need to be defined and clarified.
Ron mentioned that he used to be a real estate broker and you needed to have continuing education to be one. He has over 10 college credits in zoning law, planning and zoning theory.
Mary Anne arrived and was asked by Diane to give some background of what she and Ron have done.
Mary Anne was looking at the zoning regulations adopted in 2000; there were permitted uses, conditional uses and definitions. Many were dropped in the present regulations. The material we are working on often introduces them again as uses, but the definitions and specifics are not there, so it’s very difficult to get a grip on it.
Mary Anne talked about permitted uses and conditional uses, junk ordinance and town plan.
Mary Anne provided new and clarified definitions for review.
Donna commented that the PC has no direction right now. Right now they have spun their wheels for two years and they are not getting anywhere; and they get to this point, where the Selectboard doesn’t like any of this.
Ron wants to keep it clear and simple.
Ken said they didn’t disapprove all of it.
Donna stated that the Selectboard need to come right out and say that they are scrapping this or not. The PC has wasted their time, Julie’s time, Diane’s time. Donna stated she doesn’t have a PhD in zoning, but she owns her own land. She stated it is nonsense for her to come here two hours twice a month. She has more to do in her life than coming here and spinning their wheels.
Peter stated he is confused about some of the things they are saying are not there, but they are.
Ron stated that he and Tom Barker came to some of the first meetings and tried to say things, but no one wanted to listen.
Donna stated that from day one they stated that it does the PC no good; unless the Selectboard is going to approve it. Donna stated that they don’t have a quorum so there can be no decisions tonight.
Diane asked Mary Anne if the new definitions were in place in the current regulations, would it take care of the deficiencies that have been noted.
Mary Anne said yes and that it gives her the tool of clarity.
Diane mentioned that she thought Julie had reformatted the current regulations.
Mary Anne said that was true, but the changes here haven’t been incorporated and Mary Anne didn’t print them out yet. It is much easier to read in the new format.
The new formatting on a page makes everything much easier to read on a page.
Peter pointed out some things he thought were incorrect with lot coverage and changes need to be made.
Discussion of criteria for home-based business definitions, wetlands and maps.
Diane thanked the PC on behalf of the Selectboard for their long-term work and sitting through this session listening to concerns and hope they will stick it out until they have a document for public approval.
Mary Anne was asking questions on Certificate of Compliance, Title 24. Ron will research it a little more.
New Business:   None
Other Business: None
Public Comment: None
Motion by Ken and second by Brad to adjourn to meeting at 7:30 p.m. All in favor. So approved.
Respectfully submitted,
Sandra L. Trombley