Commissioners hear pocket neighborhood proposal

Bill Posey and Dave Marshall appeared before the Planning Commission at its meeting on May 22 to request specific changes in zoning which would allow for the construction of a “pocket neighborhood” at Wes and Falls Road. Posey explained that small one or two bedroom homes or cottages grouped around a common green are the wave of the future. Empty nesters are looking to downsize but want to live in a community near services. Posey would like to build an eight home neighborhood on the 2.8-acre property, and Marshall is helping with the design. They will be meeting shortly with the Historic Preservation and Design Review Commission to review their plans. In the meantime, they asked the Planning Commission to reduce the front and side yard setbacks, increase the allowable density for smaller single family and two family residences, increase the allowable building coverage, and reduce the front yard and side yard periphery buffer requirements in residential Planned Unit Developments (PUDs). Commission members seemed generally favorable to the idea but would like more time to consider the proposal.

In another zoning matter, Brian Precourt requested that the Development Review Board be given discretion to waive or alter setback and periphery buffer requirements and increase the amount of new construction allowed for PUDs in the Village Center District. His request was prompted by the planned expansion of the Rite Aid in the Shelburne Shopping Park. He explained that the undevelopable land behind the Shopping Park presents a natural periphery buffer, and he would like to be able to expand up to the rear property line; the current 25 percent limit on new construction severely limits his ability to expand the store even though there is sufficient land to do so. Commissioners agreed and will consider his request at a later meeting.

The Commission formally adopted a Policy on Towers and Telecommunication Facilities as an amendment to the Town Plan. They discussed the draft at a previous meeting, and the amendment will be warned for a public hearing in June. Town Planner Dean Pierce will continue to work with Professor Kurt Oughstun of the University of Vermont on mapping ideal or preferred sites for telecommunication towers.

The Commission discussed but did not act upon a proposed amendment to the Town Plan to include a definition of the Village Center and its boundaries. Town Planner Dean Pierce explained that the Village Center designation is not the same as a zoning or planning district, but rather a mechanism that allows property owners within the Center to take advantage of certain tax advantages. Commissioners decided that adding yet another map would be confusing and deferred further consideration until a later date.

The next meeting of the Planning Commission will be held on Thursday, June 12 at 7pm in the Municipal Center.