Progress in town planning deliberations

The Planning Commission made progress in its deliberations on the form-based code proposal at its meeting on Oct. 8. Most of the discussion centered on how best to integrate into the proposal comments made by the Historic Preservation and Design Review Commission for protecting historic resources in the Route 7 corridor.

Historic Preservation Commission member David Webster proposed adding a design review step before the sketch plan stage for properties that include historic sites. Another commission member, Dorothea Penar, pointed out that in some instances, such as the Dutch Mill property, the site itself, as well as actual structures, need to be preserved in some manner. The commission discussed the option of providing incentives—such as an increased density bonus to property owners for incorporating historic structures in any redevelopment project—as one possible method of achieving the goal.

Commission Chair Ron Bouchard asked the Historic Preservation Commission to work with Director of Planning and Zoning Dean Pierce in drafting a specific proposal for the commission’s consideration at their next meeting.

Also in relation to the form-based code proposal, Pierce reported that Natural Resources Committee member Don Rendall had withdrawn the comments he had previously submitted regarding stormwater revisions after he had read the latest draft of the proposal and concluded that they had been adequately addressed.

Pierce also proposed possible changes in the definitions of “subdivision,” “minor subdivision,” “major subdivision” and “redevelopment” to conform to new state laws and a recent Supreme Court decision.

Tod Whitaker appeared before the commission to ask that they consider changes in signage regulations to allow the Shelburne Farmers Market to install a sign from Memorial Day to Columbus Day on the village parade ground. This would replace the banner that must be hung every Saturday during the farmers market season. Bouchard promised that they would work on making such a change.

Mark Sammut, chair of the Development Review Board, along with board members Jeff Pauza and Jerry Storey, met with the commission to discuss in more detail a list of 21 zoning regulations they would like the commission to modify or clarify. The commission agreed to consider them in the coming months.

Commissioner Dan Burks then presented a business update to the commission, displaying and explaining recent data on population growth, economic indicators, energy costs and renewable energy goals. In summary, he stated that Vermont, like other New England states, is unsustainable because it is not attracting business due in large part to high tax rates and energy costs and the out-migration of young workers.

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