Planning Commission emphasizes stormwater management in Form Based Code discussion

At their Feb. 26 meeting, the Planning Commission reviewed the proposed Sustainable Design and Development Site Performance Standards, paying careful attention to the Stormwater Best Practices section (1.6.4 B 3), drawing largely upon those detailed in the South Burlington Low Impact Development Guidance Manual. They also adopted a standard that “All buildings in the Form-Based Zoning Districts should strive to achieve a zero net energy goal of 100 percent through best practices in design and construction . . .”

Commissioner Ron Bouchard underscored the importance of signage standards in the district, suggesting that a special committee along the lines of the Historic Preservation and Design Review Commission be established to review proposed signage. Dan Burks, while agreeing that signs were a vitally important part of the streetscape along Route 7, argued against “adding another layer of bureaucracy” to the process. He recommended looking at South Burlington’s sign standards for more ideas. Chair Kate Lalley would like to see signage “inject a Shelburne identity” on the Route 7 corridor and perhaps include consistent decorative light poles and banners “to set the tone” together with displays of public art. Bouchard agreed to review the standards more closely and report his recommendations back to the commission before its March 26 meeting.

The commission moved on to Section 1.7 on Administrative Procedures, attempting to simplify the process for applicants by eliminating cases when a site plan needed review and allowing the Administrative Officer to make decisions in other instances so that fewer plans would require review by the Development Review Board (DRB).

Commission members had differences of opinion on when and whether deviations from the standards could be granted by the DRB; Commissioner Dick Elkins generally favored stringent adherence to the standards and limited allowable deviations.

The next meeting of the Planning Commission will be held Thursday, March 12 in the

Municipal Center. The agenda for the March 26 meeting will include final adoption of the Form Based Code and the continuation of the public hearing on a modification of the zoning bylaws to specify that the Vermont Significant Wetlands Inventory be used to identify wetlands in terms of “developable land.”