Ron Bouchard was unanimously elected as Planning Commission Chair at its meeting on April 9 and Jaime Heins was elected as Vice Chair. In assuming the chair, Bouchard noted that his father had served before him and he urged every Commissioner to take a turn as chair so that they could better understand the responsibilities of the office. He also thanked outgoing Chair Kate Lalley “for her work and tireless effort and foresight she has invested to make this a better town for all of us.” Commissioner Dick Elkins also thanked Lalley for tackling the Form Based Code project.
The Commission then turned its attention to the last section of the draft Form Based Code left for editing. Bouchard had expanded the original text to provide more clarity and more stringent standards. For example, signs, including sandwich boards, may not use plastic letters; no pennants or other moving or fluttering signs would be permitted; signs on parked vehicles except for food trucks, and inflatable figures as well as flashing or blinking signs would be prohibited. Limits on the size of signs and specifications for their placement are also included.
The Commission then agreed to propose that for a two year period, applicants would have the option of following the Form Based Code or the existing regulations. After that, the Form Based Code would apply in all cases. However, the Commission may decide at a later date to make certain sections of the Form Based Code, such as stormwater management, mandatory for all upon its initial adoption.
Town Planner Dean Pierce recommended postponing the public hearing on which wetlands inventory should be used to determine “developable land” until he could convene a panel of experts who could shed more light on the topic. The Commission agreed and continued the public hearing until May 15. They also asked Pierce to provide a comparison of wetland maps for the Northside Drive area.
The Commission also decided to postpone their review of the table summarizing residential permit activity contained in the Town’s Annual Report to their next meeting.
The Commission next addressed a request from Shelburne Baseball Incorporated which oversees the local Little League baseball program for a zoning change that would allow additional signs on the “snack shack” at the baseball field. The intent would be to have signs recognizing the Shelburne baseball teams who won the State Championship. Pierce conveyed the opinion to avoid specifying what type of message the signs could contain. However, the Commissioners chose to adopt an amendment to the draft proposal which would state that only signs acknowledging the success of Shelburne Baseball teams, their coaches and players, would be allowed. A revised draft reflecting this amendment will be considered by the Commission at their next meeting, and if adopted will be warned for a public hearing.
Pierce also reported that he had testified on renewable energy siting before a legislative committee and expects the Legislature to enact a law which may give towns more of a role in the Public Service Board process.
The next meeting of the Planning Commission will be held on Thursday, April 23 at 7pm in the Municipal Center.