Planning Commission addresses adult business, other issues

Acting on an inquiry regarding the possible establishment of an adult business in Shelburne, the Planning Commission considered a draft Zoning Bylaw for such businesses at its Nov. 17 meeting.  No specific proposal or application has been filed, but because the Zoning Bylaws do not contain any provisions concerning adult businesses, the Commission wanted to proceed proactively.

Planning Director Dean Pierce noted that currently such a business might operate under the definition of a restaurant in the absence of any other regulations, and therefore recommended that the Commission consider a more broad-based regulation addressing the topic.  He stressed that the Town could not impose an outright ban on such businesses because they are constitutionally protected under Freedom of Speech, but that the Town may regulate them because of their secondary impacts on the community.  He provided summaries of land use studies relating to these secondary impacts based on examples from across the United States. In general, the studies found increased crime rates and declining property values in areas where such businesses operate.

Earlier in the meeting, the Commission heard from consultants Brandy Saxton of PlaceSense, Amy Macrellis of Stone Environmental, and Paul Simon of parkarchitecture.com.  These consultants were retained to refine the provisions of the Form Based Code, most specifically on multi-modal transportation, stormwater, infill development, architectural quality, signage, and public art. They asked for the Commissioners’ input on these issues and outlined their project schedule.  They anticipate preparing a technical memorandum for the Commission’s consideration and a meeting with them in late January.  They would then schedule a community workshop in mid—March to obtain input and feedback from the public, and present proposed amendments to the Commission by the end of June.

The Commission then turned its attention to proposed new requirements for sidewalks and paths.  Commissioner Kate Lalley submitted a chart differentiating the requirements for residential and mixed-use districts from those in rural areas.  The requirements would add both more specificity and flexibility in determining what type of sidewalk and path would be appropriate in each area.  The Commissioners will finalize their recommendations on this issue at their next meeting.

The Commission next reviewed the recommended actions in the Town Plan for the Rural District as part of its on-going consideration of possible changes in regulations for this district. Commissioner Dick Elkins wants to focus particularly on Rural Planned Unit Developments (PUDs), while Commissioner Lalley would also like to explore whether there needs to be some differentiation of areas with the Rural District due to their unique characteristics.

The Commission will hear a presentation from an expert on Rural Areas at their meeting on Dec. 8.  Members of the Natural Resources Committee as well as the general public will be invited to attend.

Town Planner Dean Pierce reported that Town Manager Joe Colangelo is taking steps to explore having the Town of Shelburne join South Burlington’s Stormwater Utility.  That decision will be made by the Selectboard, but Commission Chair Jamie Heins asked Pierce to convey the Commission’s support for that initiative.

Given the holidays next month, the Commission decided to hold their next meetings on Thursday, Dec. 8 as regularly scheduled and on Thursday, Dec. 15 in lieu of their usual date of Dec. 22.

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