Planning Commission revises height regulation

At the request of Wake Robin, the Planning Commission preliminarily approved changes in the zoning regulations concerning height restrictions at its meeting on Oct. 9. After discussions among the Shelburne Fire Chief and representatives of Wake Robin, a revised regulation was drafted to allow construction of a new 48 foot tall building containing 39 independent living units. Conditions for erecting buildings higher than 35 feet were included to ensure resident safety in the event of a fire and to ensure higher buildings are compatible with the surrounding area. A public hearing on the proposed change will be warned at the Commission’s next meeting.
In the Commissioner Questions and Comments item of the agenda, Commissioner Dick Elkins raised two issues that had recently come before the Development Review Board that might need clarification. One concerned whether in renovations of a property located in whole or in part within the setback in the lakeshore overlay district, the structure could be expanded to the closest point to the lake prior to renovation. The other was whether the definition of integrated agriculture needed to be coupled with a specific use. The Commission may discuss these issues further at a future meeting.
The Planning Commission also engaged in an extensive discussion of the pocket neighborhood concept, particularly in regard to the Fisher property on Falls Road. In general, Commissioners were favorable to the pocket neighborhood idea, but did not agree on the details of a proposed new zoning regulation allowing them in the Village Residential District. Commissioner Elkins voiced concerns about raising density and opposed putting such a development on the Fisher property because of increased traffic, safety risks to children, and changing the character of the neighborhood. Bill Posey, the advocate for developing a pocket neighborhood on the Fisher property, said that he would likely develop the property in the traditional manner because he had spent too much time and faced too many obstacles in trying this new approach. He added, however, that he would be willing to help the Commission in deciding where and how such developments might be built elsewhere in Shelburne.
Peter Frankenburg, the town’s Finance Director, gave a short presentation on the proposed Capital Budget and Program for the next six years. Frankenburg thanked the Commission for their hard work on the Town Plan that provided guidance in developing the budget. The budget includes 120 projects ranging in cost from $5,000 to $5 million over the next six years. None of the projects are set in stone and funding sources will include grants and bonds as well as expenditures from the town budget as approved by the town voters. Commissioners were asked to submit their comments either in advance of or at the special Selectboard meeting on the capital budget scheduled for Oct. 14.
Because of time constraints, the Commission deferred discussion on statutory requirements pertaining to the Village Center Designation and on Flood Resiliency and Fluvial Erosion, as well as further consideration of the form based code. The Commission did agree to meet at 6pm on Thursday, Nov. 6, however, to devote an hour to discussion of the form based code before considering other issues on their agenda.
Before the meeting adjourned, the Commission heard from Dick and Peg Meunier of 136 Southview Drive who would like to subdivide their 10-acre property into two 5-acre lots.  Because of a slope greater than 15 degrees on the property, they do not meet the definition of “developable land” that would allow them to do so.  Commissioners agreed to re-open the discussion of whether owners of smaller properties should be exempted from the “developable land” definition at a future meeting.
The next meeting of the Planning Commission will be held Thursday, Oct. 23 at 7pm.