Planning Commission discusses solar array standards

At its Sept. 25 meeting, the Planning Commission conversed via Skype with Rutland Town officials about their recently adopted solar facility siting standards. This interactive discussion was prompted by the proposed installation of a solar array at the Teddy Bear Factory.  Shelburne does not currently have standards on solar facilities and thus would have little legal basis to challenge the proposal before the Public Service Board. After reviewing the Rutland Town standards, Commissioner Hogan suggested that major portions of the standards be adapted for Shelburne. For example, she cited provisions that prohibited undue adverse visual impacts on adjacent properties, scenic corridors, and view sheds, and limited arrays on prime agricultural soil or on forest land or in a historic district. Town Planner Dean Pierce will prepare a draft for consideration at a subsequent Planning Commission meeting.
The Commission next discussed amending the Zoning bylaw to clarify the meaning of the term “fixed seats,” which is not defined. This became an issue in the Development Review Board’s (DRB) recent consideration of an application by Folino’s because the number of fixed seats is a major part of the formula used for determining how many parking spaces be provided for customers. The Commission reached consensus on removing the word “fixed” and amending the bylaw to clarify the requirement. Specific text will be presented at the next Commission meeting.
The remainder of the meeting was devoted to a discussion of the form based code proposal. Commission members requested that the consultants draft more extensive standards for signage, including suggestions on how to differentiate Shelburne from South Burlington through the use of distinctive lampposts, banners, plantings, street art, and the like. They also decided to remove the “gas backward station” from the list of possible building types because no additional gas stations are allowed in Shelburne. Commission Chair Kate Lalley and Commissioner Heins were in favor of making the form based code mandatory, while others argued that the choice of following existing regulations or the new code should be allowed at least for an interim period.  Commission members, though, were in agreement that certain provisions of the form based code such as stormwater and parking should be mandatory. The Commission will continue to review the form based code proposal over the course of their next five meetings.
During the questions and comment portion of the meeting, Commissioner Heins acknowledge Bill Stuono’s recent letter of resignation from the DRB and suggested that some of the points Stuono made might be worthy of further consideration by the Planning Commission given that the Commission has oversight responsibility for the DRB.
The next meeting of the Planning Commission will be held on Thursday, Oct. 9 at 7pm in the Municipal Center.