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Meeting Minutes - ZBA & PC

Town of Leicester
Selectboard Meeting Minutes
Monday, March 16, 2015
** See subsequent minutes for any changes
Members Present: Diane Benware, Tom Barker, Ron Fiske, Brad Lawes
Members Absent: Ken Young
Others Present: Julie Delphia, Arlan Pidgeon, John Chandler, Jim Carroll, Bill Shouldice, Donna Swinington, Peter Fjeld, Sandra Trombley, Secretary
Call to Order: Meeting called to order at 6:30 p.m. by Chair.
Review of Agenda:
Addition of the Humane Society Contract to the agenda.
Moved the interview with candidate for Animal Control Officer to the beginning of meeting.
Tom would like to speak about cemetery.
Interview with candidate for Animal Control Officer:
John Chandler had submitted a letter of interest at the Board’s last meeting and was invited to come and meet with the Board.
Introductions were made. The Board went over their expectations; understanding it is a part time position, calls require prompt attention and immediate contact with the Board.
John asked about what type of animals he was responsible for. Board explained that it is usually just dogs. Wild animals would be reported to the game warden. Board explained that sometimes he might need to be a mediator with family situations.
Once appointed, when there is a dog bite in Leicester, the hospital would call John and Diane as Health Officer. Vicious dog situations require an immediate special meeting of the Board; so prompt attention is required.
A dog census is needed once a year; which could be done nights and weekends. There are between 200-250 dogs in town.
John asked about the tools for handling the animals. He has leashes and a crate.
The Town has a dog crate; a stick, a badge and vehicle signs coming; as well. The Board will purchase a catch pole.
Motion by Tom and second by Brad to appoint John Chandler as the new Animal Control Officer. All in favor. So approved.
Julie will provide a copy of the Ordinance.   Julie will provide a packet with all necessary information and the key to Homeward Bound in Middlebury. Julie will make John some small business cards.
John was invited back for the April 6th meeting to make sure John has all he needs and answer any questions that might come up.
Approval of Minutes of March 9, 2015:
Motion by Tom and second by Ron to approve minutes of March 9, 2015 as written. All in favor. So approved.
Reports from Town Officials, Committees:
Road Foreman: No report.
Town Clerk/Treasurer:
Julie reported that delinquent taxes are at $108,500.
Julie went through 54 VT Gas Pipeline Survey postcards that she received. 30% were in favor, 61% were against and 9% didn’t know. Julie anticipates receiving more postcards.
Julie asked for confirmation on what type of pole lights were needed for the building. They would need just a flexible light to put light on the table.
Julie mentioned that there was frost under the pavement outside the Town Office. She noticed that where she parks her car, it has scrunched up the siding on the building. Julie has put a sign out by the entrance for people to watch their step; especially going out, not so much coming in. Hopefully, all will resolve itself when the temperature warms up.
Tom mentioned that the plow had gone off the gravel driveway onto the grass. The grass had been dug up and there are ruts in the grass where cars were turning around. Next season they will put up stakes and mark the driveway to prevent this from happening.
Julie commented that folks that asked for access to the cemetery were very grateful that it was plowed.
Weight Permits:
There were six weight permits United Natural Foods Inc, Weston Pulpwood Sales, Hendy Bros, Champlain Construction/Bear Dog Enterprises, Barrett Trucking, Livingston Farm Landscape Products. Arlan reviewed and Brad signed.
Review/Authorization to Pay Bills:
Motion by Tom and second by Brad to authorize Treasurer to pay the bills. All in favor. So approved.
Humane Society Contract:
Chair signed the 2015 Humane Society contract $550 per year.
Review of DRB model: Pros/Cons with Town Counsel/Joint Meeting with ZBA/Planning Commission:
Introductions to Jim Carroll were made. Explanation of the ZBA/Planning membership given.
Jim provided a handout and packet of information to all in order to have an informal conversation about issues to address going to a Development Review Board (DRB) vs. Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA).
Jim asked questions about where the Board was at in the process.
The Board is about done and is now at the decision time as to whether to go with a DRB or stay with ZBA.
Jim started with a basic understanding of how the various bodies are intended to work under Title 24; to make sure everyone has a baseline understanding of how it is set up with the enabling legislation. Before a Selectboard can act, before a Planning Commission can act, or a DRB/ZBA can act, you have to have enabling authority. There is no body of authority for a town to act on its own independent of what the legislature has told the town what it can do. The power comes from the State down to the municipality.
Jim explained the way Title 24 sets up the basic concept of zoning is with the 3-part system of government; the legislative branch (PC), judicial branch (ZBA) and administrative branch (ZA).
Jim explained that the function of a Development Review Board (DRB) is functionally the same thing as a ZBA with a different name. Statutorily, the DRB can hear all of the quasi-judicial determinations that come out of a set of zoning regulations instead of leaving some of those to the PC; as in sub-divisions, site plan review, waivers. It tends to streamline the process.
Peter commented that in Leicester the ZBA/PC are pretty much the same. The DRB might be easier for the PC who wouldn’t have to have a judicial role and it might be something people might be more interested in serving on. We have had no sub-divisions recently.
Peter asked about record keeping.
Jim explained there are a four or five things to consider before determining if you would like to go to a DRB model.
Jim explained that a consideration is whether you would want a standard of record review on an appeal at E-Court as opposed to de novo review. De novo is that the E-Court judge is hearing the trial/testimony all over again and judge applies his or her own discretion. The Record Review basically is heard at the DRB/ZBA level, all of which is recorded, all exhibits need to be gathered, marked, kept, issue a decision and Findings of Fact and Conclusion completed for appellant review. If it goes to appeal, the E-Court will read all the record and exhibits and will only reverse the decision if the law has been interpreted incorrectly or there is absolutely no basis to the decision. It is a heavy burden on the DRB to run the meeting in a rigid way. You must have a digital recording device in order to be able to send a copy as the primary evidence in an appeal.
Jim mentioned there were 12 towns that went to on-the-record review. A couple towns that went to the record review went back to de novo. It was just too difficult to put the record together to satisfy a record in appellant review. There are a lot of procedural arguments that get raised with record review.
You can have a DRB without going to on-the-record review. There are options.
Most towns re-doing their zoning regulations are going to a DRB form. They are doing the quasi-judicial determinations and hearing. Jim mentioned the open meeting laws and executive sessions.
Even if the hearings are de novo, there must be adequate findings and conclusions because decisions could be sent back from E-Court if appealed if records are not adequate.
Jim stated that it makes sense to have a DRB if you are considering a Unified Development Bylaws. He encourages having Unified Development Bylaws.
Statutorily a DRB has to have 5 members and 3 for a quorum. Less than 5 can cause possible problems with open meeting laws, etc. You would need to decide how many common members would be allowed. Shall there be one or more members of the DRB to sit on the PC.
Jim provided a form resolution template in the packet.
In a transition from ZBA to DRB, there would need to be a cutoff date accepting application under the ZBA. The DRB and ZBA could both be meeting during the transition period.
If the town stands with de novo, they do not have to adopt MAPA. But, MAPA can be adopted independently for all quasi-judicial proceedings. Lawyers recommend using MAPA; even if you haven’t adopted MAPA, for anything covering property interests.
If towns adopt a DRB format, there is enabling legislation that allows that DRB to sit locally as the Act 250 Environment Board to consider local criteria for Act 250. Most towns have not gone with the ACT 250 at the local level. You would need to adopt MAPA to do this. It is a very stringent appellant standard.
Bill mentioned that because of the economy that all the ZBA has been hearing are edges, fences, lake setbacks and such.
Brad asked what would trigger an Act 250 process.
Jim answered that the number of lots is usually the biggest trigger, 10 or more. There also would have to be a zoning permit. The Act 250 application should come in to the district office. The district office would refer the matter to the local DRB. The DRB could consider the zoning permit application right along with the local level Act 250. The project could be reported to the town in a number of ways. Sometimes it’s a bank, a lawyer, local ZA.
Jim stated that the Planning Commission needs to finish their plan, hold public meetings, write a report of what the PC did and why, present the report and plan to Selectboard. You need to hold at least one open public meeting before the Selectboard adopts. The Selectboard could adopt your DRB resolution at the same time they adopt the plan; should they choose to do so.
The Board thanked Jim for his clarifying information.
Public Opinion: None
Executive Session: None
Next Meeting: April 6, 2015
Motion by Tom and second by Ron to adjourn at 8:37 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,
Sandra L. Trombley
Selectboard Secretary