January 3, 2018 PC Minutes

January 15, 2018

SOUTH HERO PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES                                       January 3, 2018


Members Present: D. Patterson, s. Gregg, R. Henry, B. Kerr

Members Absent: D. Roy

Public Present: Liza Kilcoyne, Bob Krebs, Jay Buermann, Jim Brightwell, Tim Maxham, Martha Taylor-Varney (ZA)


7:00 – D. Patterson called the meeting to order.


Changes to the Agenda

The planned discussion Development Regulations discussion of the Home Occupations section, reviewing the Planning Commission’s Rules of Procedure, and reviewing the Sign Ordinance draft were postponed to the January 17, 2018 meeting.


Jay Buermann and Bob Krebs – discussion on Village District boundaries

            Jay Buermann explained that the current State resource on the ANR website for potential wastewater soils in the areas of the South Hero and Keeler Bay villages is confusing and out of date (based on a 1957 survey).  He gave the Commission members new aerial photos of the 2 villages showing both hydric soils (wetlands and marshes) and hydrologic soils (pervious and impervious soils).  He emphasized that Grand Isle County is at least 25% wetlands.  He recommended not considering wastewater requirements when locating village boundaries – to be aware of the existence of wetlands but not to design projects based solely on their locations.  The technology exists to allow ww to be pumped to an appropriate site.

Bob Krebs stressed that now is the time to look at long-term planning and to consider a South Hero village district to include Hill Rd. and South St. to Landon Rd.  He recommended the district be uniform rather than following individual property boundaries, and to consider what would serve the Town’s needs in the next 30-40 years.  For Keeler Bay village, he recommended the district extend from Sunset View Rd. to the old Community Health building on RT 2, and up Ferry Rd.  He does not anticipate a community wastewater system and said the Town needs to develop a town-wide policy for wastewater location.  He stressed that it would be important to invite Sen. Mazza and Speaker Johnson here to enlist help from them in helping the Legislature to understand how 9L has affected the ability of South Hero to expand beyond its current Designated Village Districts.  S. Gregg stated that the Town needs to request expanding these boundaries.

Tim Maxham asked if there had been an inventory of septic soils in South Hero or in Grand Isle County.  Jay said there had only been educated guesses.  He again stressed that the availability of wastewater should not drive your vision.  It was suggested that the Commission consider creating ‘transitional zones’ to allow for an adjustment between commercial and residential development.  Bob suggested the Commission be flexible in its development standards, especially as it pertains to parking, septic, and form-based zoning.  D. Patterson recommended using as examples some current properties to see if form-based design would work – should we ask NRPC for an analysis?

  1. Henry asked about the proposed driveway standards and if either Jay or Bob agreed they were necessary. Bob felt they were not necessary for a driveway to a single home, and that the Town should stay out of it. Jay thinks it’s reasonable to allow a driveway width as narrow as 12 feet.  He said the proposed 10% grade average did not apply to some current drives in town, and that the B71 standard was overkill for driveways that serve 1 or 2 homes.  He supported a requirement for pull-offs vs. upgrading the entire driveway or road.  Bob felt the question here boiled down to individual rights vs. safety.

The discussion concluded with the question “What kind of development does South Hero want to encourage?  and, “Does the Town want to protect agricultural land as part of that plan?”


Presentation by Jim Brightwell – Proposal for PUD Incentives

            Jim Brightwell (DRB Alternate member) explained that there are no current incentives to develop Planned Unit Developments in South Hero to preserve open space.  He proposed the Town provide strong and clear incentives for small-scale development that would most likely occur in South Hero, to enable both the protection of open space and to meet the housing goals of the current Town Plan.  Jim stressed that it is cost-effective and cheaper to develop PUDs rather than traditional developments, due in part to the decrease in the number of roads and the construction community septic systems.  Incentives proposed include a density bonus and three categories of open space – private, common, and public. Benefits of developing PUDs would include: support for growth that would not reduce the tax base but would preserve open space; a density bonus could encourage the construction of affordable housing; the development of more efficient community septic systems; and maintaining the town’s  character while allowing for additional growth.  PUDs would not be required; the 1-unit to 1-acre option would still be available.  Jim asked if PUD incentives would be allowed under the current Act 250/9L review process?  Doug felt that, based on experience, the answer may be no.  Surrounding towns, including Grand Isle, North Hero, and Colchester have current PUD density incentives.



Meeting Minutes

  1. Gregg moved to accept the December 21, 2017 minutes; B. Kerr second. All in favor.


Public Input

There was none.  B. Kerr requested that, in the future, Public Input be moved to the top of the agenda to allow input without having to stay for the entire meeting.


New/Old Business

There was none.




Administrator’s Report

  1. Martha gave the Commission members information about a webinar on Act 171 – Land Use Planning to Address Forest Fragmentation. Webinar dates are January 19, 2018, February 12, 2018, or March 1, 2018.
  2. Martha gave the members a print-out on Criterion 9L of Act 250 explaining how it works, the benefits of it, and how it can affect (positively or negatively) various projects.
  3. The Commission had asked Martha to ask NRPC why ‘Incidental Structure’ (a type of accessory structure) had been left out of the draft regulations. It has been agreed that ‘Incidental Structures’ will be added back to Table 2.2 and Section 611.


9:15 – S. Gregg moved to adjourn; R. Henry second.  All in favor.



Respectfully submitted,

Martha Taylor-Varney, ZA



Signed: _____________________________________________ Date: ____________________

                        For the Planning Commission



These minutes are unofficial until approved at the next regularly-scheduled meeting.  All motions were unanimous unless otherwise indicated.


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