Options for Southern Gateway Project presented to Planning Commission

The Planning Commission’s Oct. 27 meeting featured a presentation by Lucy Gibson of Dubois & King, an engineering consulting firm hired by the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission. The firm was charged with studying the U.S. Route 7 corridor south of the Marsett Road-Bostwick Road intersection; Gibson presented the results of the study and three proposed alternatives to enhance pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

Dubois & King’s recommendations include reducing the speed limit from 40 to 35 mph from the Marsett Road and Bostwick Road intersection to an area south of Shelburne Green, installing rectangular flashing beacons and/or a raised median for a crosswalk from Shelburne Vineyard to Folino’s with a sidewalk connecting to Shelburne Green, and a multiuse path on the west side of U.S. Route 7 from Bostwick Road to Shelburne Vineyards. The Town would have to make a request to the Vermont Transportation Department for speed limit reduction and median construction.

The alternatives presented were: (1) construction of an off-road path connecting the existing sidewalk fragments from Marsett Road south and provide a walkway or multiuse path through private property south to South Park Road; (2) a sidewalk on the east side of U.S. Route 7 from Marsett Road south to just beyond the Countryside Motel; or (3) a shared-use path on the west side of U.S. Route 7 from Bostwick Road to Shelburne Vineyard and from Vermont Teddy Bear to Ridgefield Road.

Gibson explained that steep slopes and wetlands on the east side of U.S. Route 7 south of Shelburne Green would make sidewalk construction difficult and costly, and that the off-road pedestrian or multiuse path might be preferable. She noted that informal discussions with property owners indicated willingness to provide easements on their land for such a path.
The commission plans to have further conversations with landowners and stakeholders, and to create a final proposal that includes cost estimates, permit details, and utility relocations  and maintenance costs. The final recommendations and implementation strategy would be presented to the Selectboard in early 2017, together with potential funding opportunities to offset some of the implementation costs.

Ron Bouchard, former Planning Commission chair and now the chair of its Housing Subcommittee, updated the Commission on the Subcommittee’s work. The Subcommittee is preparing a booklet that will include historical and current statistics on housing in Shelburne. Bouchard presented an interactive map of Shelburne homes.

The map continues to be updated and will soon be available on the town’s website. An overview of Shelburne’s affordable housing stock, prepared by Leslie Black-Plumeau of the Vermont Housing Finance Agency, and materials from Building Homes Together, a joint project of Champlain Housing Trust, Housing Vermont, and the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, were provided to Planning Commission members as well.

The Commission next reviewed a preliminary revised energy siting map prepared by Town Planner Dean Pierce in response to decisions made at the last meeting. Melanie Needle of the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission is developing a final version.

Pierce also reported that funding opportunities are available from the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission for the town to conduct a study of current energy uses that would provide necessary data to set targets for energy conservation and renewable energy projects in the future. These targets are required by the Vermont Department of Public Service. The Commission urged Pierce to pursue funding for this project.

The Commission next addressed how it would tackle the issue of zoning changes in the Rural District, agreeing to look at a build-out analysis to determine whether the outcomes under existing bylaws are consistent with the goals included in the Town Plan, and to focus especially on the Rural Planned Unit Development regulations.

The Commission decided that in the future they would consider amending the integrated agricultural regulation as requested at their previous meeting.

The Commission decided to meet only once in November due to Thanksgiving, with the meeting scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 17 at 7pm in the Municipal Center. The Commission tentatively decided to change the December meeting dates to the first and 15th because of the holiday season, rather than meet as usual on the second and fourth Thursdays.

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