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Meeting Minutes - PC

Planning Commission Meeting
Tuesday, September 8, 2015
6:00 P.M.
** See subsequent minutes for any changes
Members Present: Donna Swinington, Chair, Peter Fjeld, Jeff McDonough, Bill Shouldice
Others Present: Diane Benware, Julie Delphia, Sandra Trombley, Secretary
Call to Order/Roll Call:
Meeting called to order at 6:07 p.m. by Chair and roll call.
Review Agenda: Agenda reviewed. Added Julie & Diane to agenda.
Approve minutes of August 11, 2015:
Motion by Jeff and second by Peter to approve minutes of August 11, 2015. All in favor. So approved.
Donna welcomed Julie and Diane.
Julie explained that she was there to say to the Planning Commission the same thing she said to the Selectboard on Monday night and to give a little background. After the last meeting that she attended where they talked about rearranging a bunch of chapters in the Poultney plan, she came to the Selectboard because the amount of work to get that done is rather significant. Julie got the feeling that there wasn’t complete support of the Selectboard for the Poultney plan and that Mary Anne was also very uncomfortable with the Poultney plan as it was when we were discussing it. Julie state that when they did the Town Plan and they all sat around the table and hashed it out, she thought it was a great thing. It was very collaborative and they came up with something at the end that everybody was happy with and it flew through the process to get approved.
Julie explained that what she said at the Selectboard meeting was she didn’t want to put anymore time into something that wasn’t going to make it through and that she would prefer that the Selectboard come to the Planning Commission meeting and try to figure out how to move forward and work together to get some sort of by-laws that everybody can buy into and that will go through and they won’t have things going back and forth and put all this effort into it and not making it through.
Julie reported that one of the things the Selectboard had talked about at that meeting was the old regulations. Julie explained some are still very attached to the old regulations. One of the things they had asked Julie to do was to take the current green book and undo all the columniation and fix some of the formatting issues and make some changes to some definitions. Julie’s understanding at the last meeting of the Selectboard was that they would present to the Planning Commission some ideas.
Donna responded that was not what happened. She stated that she and Peter were the only two members of the Planning Commission at the joint meeting.
Julie stated that her intent did not come to fruition, but in fact went terribly wrong and created a confrontation rather than collaboration. What Ron and Mary Anne were supposed to show you at that meeting was just an idea of what the old regulations would look like, because Mary Anne seemed quite concerned about the layout of having everything separate as the Poultney plan is.
Julie stated she doesn’t really care which plan they choose; as long as it something positive for the town and everybody can feel good about.
Julie explained that there is now this absolute feeling of frustration on everyone’s part and that is not what the whole idea was about. Julie feels somewhat responsible for this because she stated that the board’s needed to get together and hash this out. Doing the by-laws is completely in the Planning Commission’s possession and then they go to the Selectboard and then the Selectboard can send them back. What is going on now, is not what she intended. As always, she is willing to help. Julie stated that everybody’s goal is the same exact thing. The way of the Town Plan worked much better.
Donna stated they appreciated Julie’s time and effort; as well as, Diane’s.
Peter stated that they had no different intent than Julie. The question was asked before when Jim Carroll was here, does this make sense to do this? They would really value Jim’s opinion and he thought they had already done that in the meeting with Jim Carroll. The goal was to get everything up-to-date.
Donna said it wasn’t until that meeting that they were told that they didn’t listen.
Julie thinks the answer falls somewhere in between the current regulations and the Poultney plan. Somewhere in the middle lie by-laws that are easy to understand, allowable for our ZA to enforce and protect the town from legal action.
Donna said they were always thankful for the input. The last meeting came as a complete surprise to her and Peter.
Bill said he wasn’t at the last meeting, but he could see it coming. There are such strong feelings about changing this stuff. They have to understand the world is changing and if you don’t change, you fall back. It seems to Bill that if they do not want to collaborate with the PC, he doesn’t know how to get anything done.
Julie said that where they thought everything was done, it wasn’t as ready as everyone thought.
Bill explained his frustrations about the process.
Peter said that when he went through Julie’s notes, he felt he could answer 80% of the questions, leaving only 20% to resolve.
Diane explained that she stated to everyone that it cannot be about what someone personally likes or doesn’t like. They can’t just bring definitions to the PC and say you’re done with it.
Diane came tonight to explain that Jim Carroll said it is the PC that is charged with writing the by-laws. Jim Carroll did offer to come to clarify the process. There needs to be an opportunity for citizen input before going too far.
Donna explained that it doesn’t do any good to do these by-laws if the Selectboard is not going to agree to them. She explained the reason they went with the Poultney plan was that Jim Carroll felt it was a pretty good plan; it had been approved by RCRP. Saying there is too many pages isn’t enough; things have become complicated in this world. Donna stated that to tell them they didn’t listen to him, she is still so overwhelmed by that, she can’t move on.
Bill stated we don’t have to listen. They come in and treat us like kids that are being taken to the wood shed. Bill stated, he doesn’t need it.
Peter thinks there was a misunderstanding where they were at in the process.
Peter is still looking for an opinion from Jim; if it is easier to beef up the current plan or trim down the Poultney plan.
Julie left a revised copy of the current plan and the municipal by-law preparation timeline.
Diane asked Bill about Duncan Rollanson and whether he was interested in both boards. Bill has not heard anything, but it sounded like he was interested.
Diane and Julie were thanked for their time.
Discussion of Next Steps on Zoning By-Law Revisions:
There was further discussion on the revisions.
Bill was upset that concerns are being brought directly to the Selectboard instead of coming to the PC.
Peter wants Diane to contact Jim Carroll for his opinion; whether it is better to beef up the current regulations or trim down the Poultney plan before they decide to move forward.
Other Business: None
New Business:   None
Public Comment: None
Motion by Jeff and second by Peter to adjourn at 6:56 p.m. All in favor. So approved.
Respectfully submitted,
Sandra L. Trombley, Secretary