October 16, 2019 PC Minutes

October 20, 2019

SOUTH HERO PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES                           October 16, 2019


Members Present: D. Patterson (Chair); D. Roy; B. Kerr; M. Gammal

Members Absent: S. Gregg

Public Present: Jonathan Shaw; Jeff Sikora; Mike Gammal; Tim Maxham; Martha Taylor-Varney (ZA)


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


Changes to the Agenda

There were none.


Public Input

There was none.


Discussion of Comments/Suggestions from Oct. 2 Development Regulations Amendments Public Hearing

Jonathan Shaw told the Board that he had concerns regarding the enforceability of the proposed amendments and the process for approval:

  1. Sec 203 – Village District: What is the “majority”? and should the word “shall” be used?   The language here is not well defined. Should the regulations include introductions that already appear in the Town Plan?
  2. 204.B(2) – No waivers or variances for land uses that are not specifically identified. Is this intentional?
  3. Table 2.3 – Dimensional Standards. Height limits for structures in the proposed Village Zoning Districts raised to a maximum of 40 feet? Setback distances from boundaries too restrictive. Roy commented that the intention is to have structures closer to the road. D. Patterson reminded that there will be setback waivers of up to 50% allowed (Sec. 305). Should this be eliminated?
  4. Section 502.A – Abandonment. Does this apply to residences that have been abandoned/unoccupied for several years? Martha explained that any wastewater system that has been unused for more than 2 years is required by statute to be either replaced per State permit or certified by the State to be continued.
  5. 503.C – Are the number of parking spaces at a B&B determined by the number of bedrooms? Are these counted as separate dwelling units? No.
  6. 506.B – Outdoor lighting. Language defining ‘intent’ should not be in the Regulations. Hard to interpret. ‘Intended use’ is subjective but necessary.
  7. 508 – Performance Standards. Difficult to enforce.
  8. 602 – Landscaping and Screening. Needs to be more specific. The screening language is obscure and perhaps too strict.
  9. 608 – Village District Form and Design Standards. Jonathan does not like this section. D. Roy said the drawings were bad examples. Jeff Sikora felt the requirements squash creativity. They’re too restrictive. D. Roy said that form encourages walkable streets and downtowns, keeps orientations and scale, and keeps the focus on elements and not what they look like. Jeff said that is difficult in Vermont. Jonathan said it seems like a good idea but doesn’t work here. D. Patterson asked Jonathan if the section on Form is the biggest obstacle the Selectboard may have with the amendments. Jonathan agreed. Is it worth it for D. Roy and Jeff to review? The ‘farmhouse’ examples are not good. The formulas are good but the drawings give the impression that that is the required design. The section on Form is at the end of Article 6, making it easy to remove? Remove it from the document and re-introduce at a later date?
  10. 701.B(1)b – Accessory Dwellings. Accessory dwelling’s size limited 30% of total floor area of the primary structure could be too limiting for a small house.
  11. Seasonal dwelling definition – used no more than 6 months of the year? How is this enforced?


  1. Kerr asked Jonathan how the Selectboard felt about the Village Zoning Districts. Jonathan said it was hard to have 2 sets of rules.


Jonathan feels that the approval process will require that the question go to the voters, and he feels that it will pass. D. Patterson responded that the public has had the chance to participate and that the Selectboard should be able to make the decision. Jonathan responded that if the turnout for the Selectboard hearing is low, the Board may make a decision whether to approve or not, but it may have to go to the voters.


Concerns brought up at the October 2nd Planning Commission public hearing by Jay Buermann included the requirement for a traffic study for parking for more than 25 cars. He felt the threshold was low. Tim Maxham asked if a traffic study should be required in South Hero.


  1. Patterson passed to the members a re-sized diagram for cul-de-sac in Figure 6.1 to answer concerns raised at the Oct. 2 hearing. The Board agreed to increase the area of impervious surface from 5000sf to 11,000sf for standards requirements for major developments. Need to add ‘Shoreland Stabilization’ to Table 2.1 (Allowed Uses) under Village Districts and Shoreland District with the notation ‘P’. In 503.B(3) – Accessibility for Emergency Vehicles for single-household dwelling driveways – the word “shall” will be replaced with “should.”


Review of Minutes

  1. Roy moved to accept the minutes from October 2, 2019; M. Gammal second. All in favor.

Discussion on Meeting Decorum

  1. Kerr suggested tabling the discussion to a later meeting. All agreed.


Administrator’s Report

  1. The Planning Commission will host the Northern Lake Champlain Tactical Basin Study at their November 6 meeting. The meeting will be at 7PM at the Worthen Library.
  2. The VLCT Fall Planning and Zoning Forum will be held on October 23rd in South Burlington.
  3. There will be a PC meeting on November 20 since Thanksgiving is late this year.


9:15PM – M. Gammal moved to adjourn; D. Roy 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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