October 2, 2019 Planning Commission Minutes

October 8, 2019

SOUTH HERO PLANNING COMMISSION MINUTES                                       October 2, 2019


Members Present: D. Patterson (Chair); S. Gregg (Vice-Chair); D. Roy; B. Kerr; M. Gammal

Public Present: Suzanna Jaeger; Jim Brightwell; Anne Quinn; Tim Maxham; Jay Buermann; Bob Buermann; Jim Bond; Nate Hayward; Ross Brown; David Carter; Jeff Sikora; Taylor Newton (NRPC); Martha Taylor-Varney (ZA)


7PM – D. Patterson called the meeting to order. Introduction of the Board



Changes to the Agenda

There were none.


Public Input

There was none.


Public Hearing for Draft Amendments to the South Hero Development Regulations

  1. Patterson gave a brief background on the process of amending the Development Regulations. The Planning Commission was awarded a 2016 Municipal Planning Grant and engaged Taylor Newton and Greta Brunswick from Northwest Regional Planning Commission to assist. As part of the amendments, the Planning Commission decided to add 2 Village Zoning Districts and to consider form-based code in these new districts. Public forums included a walking tour of South Hero and Keeler Bay villages and a public meeting at which participants discussed various design elements that were preferred and completed a visual preference survey from which village district form preferences were considered. Since the beginning of the process, the Commission had over 50 meetings devoted to writing new regulations and amending/clarifying others. The approval process requires at least one Planning Commission public hearing and a Selectboard public hearing, after which the document is approved or not by either the Selectboard or, if they choose, by the Town voters. Taylor Newton was introduced to present the Final Draft and an overview of the changes.

Taylor explained the focus of the updated Regulations were on the 2 new Village Zoning Districts – Keeler Bay village and South Hero village – and the future development in these districts, applicability, removing repetitive language, and providing mandatory, enforceable language. The proposed boundaries of the 2 village zoning districts were presented, and new lot density, setback, and height requirements were discussed.

Clarifications in ‘Development Review’ (Article 3) include exemptions in zoning permit procedure, application requirement and standards, a discussion on the definition of “undue adverse effect”, and setback waivers in the Shoreland and Village Districts. Changes/additions to ‘Subdivision and Boundary Line Adjustment’ (Article 4) include waivers for some submission requirements for subdivisions of large lots, and a new review process for 2 and 3-lot subdivisions allowing for administrative review by the ZA rather than the current minimum 2-hearing review process. Administrative review is limited to only Minor Subdivisions. ‘General Regulations’ (Article 5) includes driveways and access to lots, non-conforming structures, parking, and performance standards. ‘Development Standards’ (Article 6) include landscaping and screening, public infrastructure, roads and pedestrian infrastructure, stormwater management, and the village form and design standards. Bob Buermann wanted to clarify that a driveway standard for single family dwellings are suggestions. Standards for all others are requirements. Jay Buermann questioned the 50-ft. minimum distance of a driveway from an intersection and asked the Commission to consider adding a waiver to areas outside the Village and Shoreland Districts. Taylor emphasized that form requirements do not apply to single family homes, but only for applications requiring reviews by the DRB. Jeff Sikora asked if the entrance orientations applied only to street-side entrances, since some main entrances are located at the side of structures. He felt the architectural details seemed subjective and would like to see better definitions. He felt the window placement should be “form follows function.” He also said that the examples sown in the Regulations looked like old designs and did not address renewables. Ross Brown asked if the designs were unique to South Hero. Would there be waivers to entrance, setback, and parking requirements due to septic/leach field design? (No). Would community septic be allowed or encouraged? The Commission suggested that Jeff Sikora work with David Roy to clarify the section on form.

‘Specific Uses and Structures’ (Article 7) clarify language for accessory structures, home businesses, lake access structures and marinas, conversion of seasonal dwellings, and telecom facilities. ‘Administration and Enforcement’ (Article 8) clarifies the ZA’s responsibilities in addition to the appeal process (to both the ZA’s decisions and the DRB’s), and zoning violations, including the option for civil enforcement. ‘Flood Hazard Area and River Corridor’ (Article 9) adds River Corridor regulations, allowing the Town to qualify for Emergency Relief and Disaster funds, to recoup a higher percentage of funds from damages to municipal facilities or roads from FEMA. ‘General Definitions’ (Article 10) added 71 definitions to the amended Regulations.

There were numerous questions/concerns by public who attended the meeting:

  1. Jay Buermann questioned the need for a traffic impact study for a parking lot for 25 cars or more (Sec. 605.C.3). He felt that 25 was a low limit. He also asked for a definition of “hammerhead” and questioned whether the 35-ft. exterior radius for a cul-du-sac in Figure 6.1 was too small for a delivery truck to turn around. He suggested 42 feet. Stormwater regulations in Sec. 606 requiring a stormwater plan for areas of 5000sf or more were too regulatory. He commented that Shore Stabilization was not cited specifically in Article 7 (specific Uses and Structures). He suggested that the DRB, Planning Commission, and Zoning Administrator do a ‘test run’ of a theoretical project to see how the new regulations apply.
  2. Jeff Sikora was concerned that the form requirements made the use of renewables on the roof or the side more difficult. Should there be an option for a waiver from form for innovative design? Doug Patterson suggested that Jeff Sikora work with David Roy to clarify the section on form.
  3. Tim Maxham had concerns regarding the looks of buildings. He felt that owners should be able to do what they want. He cited interim zoning and how it divided the Town. He stated that he does not like that there are no density requirements in the proposed village districts due to the requirements for septic.


8:37 PM – D. Patterson closed the hearing.


Meeting Minutes

  1. Gregg moved to approve the minutes from September 4, 2019, with corrections; B. Kerr second. All in favor.


New/Old Business

  1. Gregg asked what the advantages were for Form Base Design? This was followed by a discussion on character of the street.


Administrator’s Report

  1. The Planning Commission’s November 6, 2019 meeting will host the Northern Lake Champlain Basin Plan public forum. Location is still to be determined. The forum will be hosted by Amanda Holland of Northwest Regional Planning Commission.
  2. There will be a meeting on October 16, 2019 at UVM, hosted by Local Motion, featuring Jeff Speck, a walk/bike advocate and planner.




9PM – S. Gregg 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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